What You Should Know About Non-Hybrid Vegetable Seed

non hybrid garden seed

How does your garden grow?

At the beginning of the growing season most gardeners, simply head to their nearest garden center, and pickup whatever seed packets that are being displayed on the shelf that year, or they skip the seeds and their germination altogether by purchasing seedlings and transplanting those directly into their garden.

And why this works well (sometimes) during “good times” when you can still rely on going back and getting new seed for planting a new crop each year, if you’re thinking in terms of long-term survival or saving your own seed from year to year, then you need to consider buying and stockpiling Non-Hybrid (Heirloom) vegetable seeds.

According to the good folks at Heirloom Organics:

Non-Hybrid or Open-Pollinated seeds allow the gardener to collect seeds from a crop for future planting. Hybrid seeds do not. Heirloom Organics Seed Packs are 100% Non-Hybrid and Non-GMO (genetically modified) and specially sealed for long term storage. Use now AND save for emergency. All from the same hermetically sealed pack!

And while this is true in most cases, saving seed from year-to-year that grows true, without negative genetic changes is a little more complicated than that. Some plant species, such as corn, okra, and spinach for example must “cross-pollinate” each year to remain strong and to be productive.

Constant inbreeding of cross-pollinating plans, even if they are of the non-hybrid variety will result in weak, non-productive plans after the first couple of years. So even if you start with pure non-hybrid, heirloom seed you can’t save the seed of cross pollinating species, indefinitely without a negative change in the resulting offspring at some point, due to inbreeding of the plants.

The solution to this problem is to simply, buy enough seed to last several years, and store in optimal conditions to ensure germination, or buy several different Non-Hybrid, Non-GMO varieties and cross-pollinate each year.

And now the good news, self-pollinating plant species such as bean, pepper, tomato, eggplant, garlic and pea can be grown and the seeds saved year-after-year with little or no genetic change in growth, health or overall production. Allowing you to continually feed your family, now and during hard-times.

Over the years I’ve seen a lot of folks express concerns about the germination rate of seeds that have been packaged for long-term storage, such as the Non-Hybrid vegetable seeds that are packaged and sold by Heirloom Organics and other seed vendors.

The main concern seems to be that the process and conditions of storing the seed long-term will somehow cause the seed to not germinate (sprout) when planted. After having tested these seeds and their germination rates myself over the past several years, and others have done the same with similar results, I can assure you that germination rates remain just as good or better than seeds stored in a traditional fashion.

Putting back a supply of non-hybrid vegetable seed should be on the to-do-list of every, gardener and that applies ten-fold for the “prepper” because we don’t know what will happen, the result or how long the duration.  We can only store so much food, and after it’s gone you’ll have to produce your own or starve.

Just how important is storing seeds for your long-term survival?

If we consider the fact that Monsanto, Bill Gates and other super wealthy contributors have set-up a huge seed bank in what is known as the “Doomsday Seed Vault” who’s stated goal is to protect those seeds stored inside against pole-shifts, asteroid collisions, nuclear war, earthquakes, floods and cross-pollination from genetically modified plant life, then the need becomes obvious, because these people have all of the resources and probably inside sources that keep them informed about what is going to happen and how to prepare for it…

Doomsday Seed Vault, SkyNews

Controlling the seeds (and thus the world’s food) will allow them to control the world and you.

Further Reading

About M.D. Creekmore

M.D. Creekmore is the owner and editor of TheSurvivalistBlog.net. He is the author of four prepper related books and is regarded as one of the nations top survival and emergency preparedness experts. Read more about him here.


  1. Very good article M.D. I learn something new from you everyday. Great work!

  2. Mystery Guest says:

    This great that you pointed out some very needful things and that the long term packages of seeds.
    Thank you for the information.

  3. One point often forgotten with heirloom seeds is that those seeds flourished in the specific area grown, and if we, in other areas, start buying/saving seeds from areas slightly different from our own then we’ll be disappointed with the results. Where I live, we get hot dry summers and I thought a similar variety of leek from France (known for hot, dry summers) would do fine here. It didn’t. Turned out it was a smaller variety of leek for quick market garden turnover, not winter keeping. There was no packet info on this, I had to ask someone from France about it. If you’re fully dependent on growing your own food, that is not the time to experiment or be dependent on ‘interesting’ varieties.

    Further on ‘foreign’ seed varieties. They are so area specific that the French in any part of France will not buy/grow seeds from 50 miles away because the heirloom seeds are so adapted to the terrain and weather they originate from. Same with their garden tools, designed for specific land needs. Taken out of their area of origin, it’s like asking a lamb to ‘moo’.

    Another point about obtaining local heirloom seeds is that they grow to current weather conditions. What if weather patterns start to change over the years? The plant may not adapt fast enough to keep us in food if we depend on a specific set of seeds. It would be handy with some fussier plants like tomatoes, pepppers, melons, etc to have cooler and warmer varieties of those seeds on hand. If the weather doesn’t change, then you’ve lost nothing. If it does, then you’ll stay a step ahead of others. I found this out with the tomatoes and melons I normally grow – hot, dry weather plants that bombed in this year’s cold, wet weather. And we’re due a repeat next year. I usually grow enough to carry me for two years, but not three.

    One final point about seeds in general is that some varieties may not like the soil you have and will flat out refuse to yield properly or even grow. Every seed variety you’ve set aside for ‘the future’ must be tested asap, along with fertilization needs, best type of feed, water needs, space needs, and local pest problems. If they don’t do well then eliminate them asap and find a better variety. There’s a simple rule I live by: never assume anything.

    • excellent! thanks, gloria.

    • I recently had the problem of a poor performing heirloom with some corn i planted, germinated well, grew fairly well, good silk good tops from all appearances should have been a decent harvest, was about a 1/4 acre plot, while the pollination was solid the kernels did not develop properly, ears never gained size or girth, even after 30 days the ears never matured, was sold as an heirloom open pollenated variety, but like the article said i think kept too pure thus the decline in performance. In the same field, 30′ away i grew another variety with excellent results, with planting offset by 1 month so know it wasnt environmental.

  4. On the 99% level, OP are the ONLY seeds that I buy.

  5. Great info. I had no idea about the long term effects of inbreeding seeds. Can you imagine how many hungry people could eat if they were given a few packages of seeds and some good soil. The tiny initial investment would feed them for years…

  6. thanks, gloria.

  7. David Pollard says:

    I think Gloria nailed it. Growing food is a difficult and evolving process. Many folks think having a can of “survival” seeds will cover their needs. You have to get dirty and experiment with what works and what doesn’t. I have a heck of a time growing squash and cucs w/o pesticides or at least thuricide. You have to know what grows well in your area, be familiar with weather patterns, and know your soil.

  8. I have a couple of “seed vaults” I maintain just in case. I don’t mind buying hybrid seeds for the garden as they are certainly cheap enough to store as well. You just have to realize what you have. One of the most important things that matter most is maintaining the garden space from year to year. A little ground work to include composting and fertilizing gets overlooked in the importance scale. I don’t just walk away in the fall. I am constantly adding coffee grounds, egg shells and other household “gems” that make my garden space happy from year to year. I also turn the chickens loose in the space for a week in the fall so they can do what they do and assist with the fertilization process.

  9. No offense to anyone, but growing your own food is not difficult, it is as simple as putting seed in the ground, water and keeping the weeds out and watching it grow, if your talking gardening here. I wouldn’t have a clue what it takes to manage a farm. This whole theatre of food production gets so complicated by the endless info coming over the web. They create a problem and then provide you with the solution, usually requiring at monetary vehicle. Seed are Seed and they will provide you with life if you will just put them in the ground, provide water, keep the weeds out and let them grow. During teotwawki here is some good life saving advice we learned from the locals in third world countries. Almost all vegetaable can be eaten as soon as they break above ground. Jusst pick the leaves stems and stalks and enjoy. Peas and beans will usually provide you with a good meal within five days of planting. Once you have tried this you may never allow plants to grow to maturity for they are very tasty and extemely nutritious during this phase of their young lives. There are virtually no insect problems, requires lots less water, lots less growing time, and provides instantaneous gratification. One draw back, no seeds, you are continually having to replenish your seed bank unless you let some of them mature. Hey, Christ bless and have a great day.

    • I fully agree with you. And, to further your line of thinking, I’ve found that seed saving and keeping your lines true isn’t nearly as difficult as this article would have people think.

      This article contains a lot of links where they are getting paid if people take their advice to store up lots of no-GMO heirloom seeds. That seems to be the thrust of the article.

      • Thanks for the thumbs up, and isn’t it truly sad that we have allowed the complication of the simplicity our grandparents taught us. They just did it all with whatever they had, truly blessed, and sharing their bounty freely. We desperately need a back to the basics movement among us preppers. Make no mistake, it is a movement and movement requires propulsion, not anchors. God bless.

  10. Chuck Findlay says:

    Does anyone know of a good book in going out in the feild and identifying wild herbs and harvesting them? Color pictures would be a plus.

    Not just a book on herbs as I have several of these, but a good book on finding them in the wild.

    • Chuck, the best ones for edibles are specific to your state, or your area of the country. For general use, I like the Audubon Society field guides to wild flowers (or trees or….) – they include most edible and useful wild plants with good photos and descriptions, although they don’t give info on gathering or use.

      • Chuck Findlay says:

        Tina thank’s for the info on Audubon Society field guides. I have 2 of them I found at The Good Will Store, one on trees and one on birds. I never thought to look at the tree one. I bought them and put them in the book shelf. I will dig out the tree one tomorrow and give it a look to see if it’s got any of the info I want.

        I’m also going to Barns & Nobel book store on Saturday and am going to look to see what they have.

  11. Chuck Findlay says:

    Field not feild.

  12. I am trying to learn to garden, and I’ve found I need to try several different varieties of a vegetable to see which one performs best for me. Local feed stores will often have seed in bulk that grows well in your area, for a lot cheaper than buying it in packets, but I also like to try varieties from the seed catalogues too. Another thing about OP seed is that over time if you save your own seed, you will develop what they call a “land race” of that item – a variety specialized for your location, soil and weather. Look up “landrace gardening” to learn more.

Before commenting, please read my Comments Policy - thanks!