If you read gardening magazines or catalogs, you have probably seen words like heirloom, open pollinated and hybrid, just to name a few. You may have scratched your head and thought to yourself "What does that mean?".
Here are a few of the words and what they mean to you, the gardener.
Heirloom - An heirloom is a variety of plant that has been in cultivation for more than 50 years. It is open pollinated (OP) by bees, birds and other insects and is passed down from generation to generation.
Open Pollinated or OP - A seed that produces offspring just like the parent plant. The plant is pollinated by bees, wind or insects. The plant produce seed that will come true year after year.
Cross Pollinated - Cross pollination is the transfer of pollen from one plant to a different plant of the same species. This process can be done by insects, humans, wind or birds.
Organic - Crops that are grown without the use of fertilizers or pesticides.
Genetic Modified Organism or GMO - A plant whose genetic material has been changed using genetic engineering techniques.
Hybrid - A hybrid is created when humans intentionally cross-pollinate two different varieties or species to produce an offspring containing the best traits of the two parent plants. Traits could be flavor, size, shape, color, disease resistance or more. This is not a GMO plant. Hybrid plants are not true to type or better said, don't save the seed because you will not get the plant you had before. If you see F1, it is a hybrid.
Self Pollination - These are plants that have perfect flowers. Self pollination is the transfer of pollen from the anther to the stigma of the same flower. They do not need help from bees, birds, insects or humans for pollination.
Annual - A plant that completes it's life cycle, starting from seed to seed in one growing season.
Perennial - A plant that lives from year to year.
Hope that this helps to explain those terms when picking your seed for your garden.