Hundreds of bags of different varieties from various manufacturers hang in sometimes huge seed shelves. The prices for the same carrot sometimes differ considerably. We explain why this is so.
Common seed is selected by conventional breeding and is produced in large quantities in special seed farms, also abroad. Like all seed, it is subject to the Seed Marketing Act. This means, for example, that high germination capacity or varietal purity must be guaranteed. Older and proven varieties are often cheap. New varieties are usually offered in small portions at a high price. Conventionally bred varieties fall true. This means that the offspring resemble the parents as much as possible, unless of course cross-pollination by another variety has taken place.
Organic seed is produced under strictly controlled conditions. During cultivation, the mother plants must not have been treated with mineral fertilisers or synthetic pesticides. Depending on the growers’ association (Bioland, Demeter), the conditions vary in stringency. Due to lower seed yields and more frequent pest infestations, as well as higher operating costs, the seed is usually raised at a high price, but with minimal environmental impact. Organic seed must meet the same quality standards as ordinary seed. F1 hybrids are also sometimes offered as organic seed.
What is special about F1 hybrids
F1 hybrids are created by crossing two seed-true and very pure-bred varieties. The abbreviation F1 denotes the first generation after crossing. The “F” comes from Filia, daughter generation. The hybrids are characterised by particular vitality and high yield, but do not fall true. If they have arisen from very different parent varieties, the offspring, the F2 generation, can also have very different characteristics. This can be attractive in flowers, but in vegetables this splitting is not desirable. The vitality typical of F1 hybrids decreases over the generations. Because of the complex crossing, F1 seeds are expensive, especially for new varieties.” Sowing in the greenhouse
Pill seeds are usually fine seed grains that are coated in a mass. This makes them easier to grasp and sow individually. The coating disintegrates quickly in moist soil.
Seeds from your own garden
Home-grown seeds are available free of charge, but the seed-bearing plants sometimes block the bed for months. If you want to propagate cross-pollinated varieties such as cucumber or fire bean yourself, you have to make sure that other varieties are at least 100 m away.
The safest way is a gauze tent that keeps flower visitors away. Seed for several years can usually be obtained from a single mother plant, except for peas and bush beans, for example. Let them dry well and store them in a cool place. Seeds will then keep optimally. Mark the best plants as seed bearers already during the season.