Not vouching for any company, but here are some sources for heirloom and open pollinated seeds.
The advantages of these varieties is, they are not genetically engineered, they are not patented, they often have better taste, compared to new varieties. They have long histories, sometimes hundreds of years. They grow true from seed - assuming you are not growing them near other varieties of the same species.
The disadvantage is that some hybrids may grow faster or better, and hybrids are more widely adapted. Some hybrids are developed for their shipping qualities, or purely for appearance, so are not as tasty. But some hybrids are excellent. Examples, Sungold Tomato, and Lemon Boy Tomato.
I grow both. I want to save more of my own seeds, and by using open pollinated varieties, that can be done. It can not be done with hybrids.
I've bought from SeedSaver's Exchange and Territorial Seed Company, and was happy with both.
There are others - here listed on Treehugger.com
Comments / additions / discussion welcome.
Sentient, thanks for the references. Some new ones here for me. We have a lot to look forward to, getting ready for next year's crops. Happy seed searching.
Joan, thanks. I've been looking at the varieties anticipating what next years' garden will be like. Exciting!
Sentient, what happens if you collect seeds from hybrid plants and plant them the next year?
Spud (I like that name) - the result will be unpredictable. Most likely, inferior to the original hybrid, but not consistent.
For example, I have a hibiscus which is lavender with a red star in the center, ruffled flowers. I planted seeds from that plant a few years ago, for no particular reason. Not having much room, I only let one grow to bloom. That one has smaller, white flowers, with a red star in the center. No lavender at all. The flowers are also not as ruffled as the original plant.
If I planted a hundred of the seeds, some might have been lavender, some white, some ?, some with larger and some with smaller flowers, some more ruffled and some less.
To apply that to a vegetable, it depends on what the parents were like, and we don't have that info. The results will usually be highly variable, and no two progeny exactly the same. Plant their seeds, and the genetic mixture will reshuffle again. The possibilities are almost endless. It's part of how new strains are developed. I've had tomatoes that grew from my compost, probably from store-bought or possibly, tomatoes I missed in the garden, or left overs, possibly / probably hybrids. They bore perfectly acceptable tomatoes, in a variety of shapes colors and sizes.
I read somewhere that out of every 1000 apple seeds planted, one or 2 will be a great variety, most average or mediocre, and some will be awful. Since we don't usually have space or time for all of those progeny, the average gardener is usually left with buying seeds or plants. The exception is nonhybrid plants, usually labeled as open pollinated or if old, "heritage" or "heirloom". Those are genetically stable, and can be saved for generation after generation.
This year I saved seeds from hybrid irises that I pollinated myself with other hybrids, just for fun. It will probably take 2 or 3 years to see what they look like, if they grow. Also some dayilies, but with deer eating daylilies I may never see the result. Also some plums, which may take a decade to fruit, so who knows? I have room to grow them so it doesn't matter much.
Sentient, you are so fortunate to have space to do that kind of experimenting. Every inch of my garden is full, but I do experiments in clay pots and that works in a pinch.
Sentient, thanks for the great information. I may have read most of it before but forgotten it because I do remember that about planting seeds from fruit trees.
I'm glad you like Spud. I started using it 40 years ago when I used it as my handle on the CB radio which I briefly used when traveling back & forth from California to Idaho. I don't remember using it again until a few years ago when I started communicating on the internet.
That reminds me: Joan, I notice you and Steph call me Idaho Spud and I've been wondering why. It sounds very formal to my ear. I wonder if you prefer to be called by your full name. If so, I will do that.
Personally, I prefer to be called Spud. Some people on Life After Mormonism called me Spud, some called me Idaho, and some IS. I didn't like IS because of the confusion between that and the word "is", which often got capitalized for emphasis.
However, Joan, you can call me whatever you're comfortable with.
Spud, thanks for the information. Of course I will call you what you want to be called. Some people prefer not to have their actual given and/or sir name on the internet and so I honor that. In order to be clear about to whom I address my comments, I usually just copy and past the internet name. I shall very happily call you Spud and please forgive me if I slip up.
I don't like using initials for the same reason as you. Somebody sent me a message signed with initials and I had no idea who it was. I googled the initials and come up with something over 20 possible meanings, none of them referred to an individual. So, whoever wrote me, sorry, I don't know who you are.
@Sentient Biped, what name do you prefer when we respond to you? I will happily comply? @Booklover, I ask the same question?
Anyone else have a preference on their names?
Joan, I"m happy with Sentient. After coming up with the screen name Sentient Biped, I've grown to like it.
I like it, too. It implies a conscious being. Which you are in spades.
So far, I've been looking around the Territorial Seed site and got the urge to buy some seeds from them. Definitely want Watermelon seeds. Watermelon is one of my favorite taste treats, but the stores charge a limb or two for them and most of the time, they are not the proper ripeness.
I grew some this year, but only got one, and it didn't get fully ripe because I planted too many things too close to each other and I let them get shaded. Next year I'm going to plant some in the best spot, on the south side of the white storage shed where they get reflected light from the shed. I will also retrain or cut-back any other plant that threatens to cover even one leaf of the watermelon plants, so they get every photon of light possible.
Territorial has an interesting variety I've not seen before called Moon and Stars Watermelon. They take 100 days, but I think I'll try them as well as an 80 day variety. Here's a picture of them:
Keep in mind, watermellon loves to grow in piles of barn straw soaked in animal excretions, which means it likes to eat, and they need a lot of water to be juicy and delicious. If you have a compost pile you want to go undisturbed for the summer throw a bucket of soil on top and plant the seeds in there. Extra watering won't hurt the compost process and your watermelons will reward you.
This is the way my grandparents grew theirs, outside the barn door where they shoveled out the barn waste.
Check with your county extension agent for suggested varieties for your area, or local gardeners.
You have four possible zones so check with locals to find out. Also check out Sunset Magazine for their hardiness zone. I Googled for it but Pocatello isn't on the map I found in Sunset. Perhaps someone else can help.
Let me know what you find out.
Thanks Joan. According to the map you pointed me to, I live in zone 5b, but I'm warmer than most of that zone. The temperature here is usually 80-100 for 90 days without many clouds, and almost never any temperatures below 45 at night (if I remember correctly).
Several years ago I put a lot of manure compost I bought from my local nursery on the spot I mentioned on the south side of the shed as well as the south side of the house. I don't know how many nutrients from that is left, so I'll take your advice and put more on. I have quite a bit of composted steer manure in bags that I'll use, as well as my compost.
I didn't know that watermelon like to eat and needed a lot of water. I don't know how much food is left in my soil, but I started giving everything more water this year when I saw the cucumbers wilting. Everything seemed to appreciate the extra water except perhaps the tomatoes. A lot of them split before becoming fully tasty. I don't know much about tomatoes, so I don't know what the cause was.