First of all, “bargain bin” seeds are no bargain. If you see packets of vegetable seed marked down to a ridiculously low price, ask yourself why they’re marked down. It might be that the retailer is trying to get rid of seeds that didn’t sell well (maybe rutabagas aren’t all that popular in your area and the retailer bought too many wholesale, for instance)…but chances are, they’re old seeds that may or may not germinate when planted. Look at the date on the seed packet, and if it’s last year, don’t buy them. Only buy seeds that are meant to be planted this year.
Organic vs. Conventional Seeds
If you want to grow truly organic produce from seed to harvest, go with the organic seeds. They have been taken from plants that have been grown with natural fertilizers and pesticides, if any. Conventional seeds, on the other hand, have been taken from plants that have been grown with synthetic fertilizers and pesticides.
You’re going to a great deal of effort to plan your garden and prepare your soil and battle pests in a natural way, so why then plant conventional seeds? True, you’ll be growing them in an organic manner, but you will not be growing truly organic produce if you start with conventional seeds.
If you would like to harvest your own seeds from year to year, heirloom seeds are the best way to begin. They have neither been grown with synthetic chemicals, nor have they been hybridized (genetically modified). Many genetically modified (GMO) crops are sterile. They cannot reproduce themselves. A boon for big agribusiness, as it keeps farmers coming back for more seeds every year. Disposable seeds for an increasingly disposable world.
Heirloom seeds have been open (naturally) pollinated, which means they will reproduce, providing you with seeds with which to start next year’s garden. Even if you don’t choose to harvest your own seeds each year, by purchasing heirloom seeds you are, at the very least, supporting independent farming and natural food growth…and not contributing to big agribusiness and its increasing control of the world’s food supply.