OrganicTexasMama
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Organic seeds necessary for organic gardening?

I am considering direct sowing some Diva cucumbers to replace the starts that have (almost) all died. Another user in my region suggested the problems I've had might be averted by doing this.

But, the starts I bought were organic; the only seeds I can find are not.

What does the organic status of the seeds affect? If I am raising the plants organically, will there be any issues with the conventional origin? Am I missing the place that does carry organic Divas?

Thanks!
OTM
~ OrganicTexasMama, newly entering the world of organic container gardening

Bobberman
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I really think organic seeds are just a money maker and nothing else! I see no advantage to organic seeds but thats only my opinion!
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cynthia_h
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Reputable sellers of organic seeds take a LOT of time to ensure that their seeds qualify for the "organic" labelling. This means a lot of labor-intensive practices, practices which are undertaken by machines on the conventional, large-scale seed-harvesting farms. People need to be paid; machines don't. THAT is why organic seeds cost more.

If organic seeds for the particular variety you want aren't available, then of course purchase conventional seeds and raise the plants organically. You'll then be able to save your own (organic) seed for next year, and you won't have to face this problem again.

That is, assuming the variety you're planting is a true-to-type variety rather than a hybrid. Seeds from hybrids (we all remember from high school biology and Gregor Mendel's peas) will look like a parent variety but not the variety you planted.

For more help on container planting and for a good general orientation to the field, have you read [url=https://www.powells.com/biblio/1-9780761116233-0]The Bountiful Container[/url] by McGee & Stuckey?

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OrganicTexasMama
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Thank you! The Diva is a hybrid, I believe, which perhaps accounts for the lack of organic seed?

https://www.parkseed.com/gardening/PD/5516/

I think I'll go with these if there's no major harm in using the conventional seed. I suppose my "organic" start was started with the same sort of seed if no organics exist and it's a hybrid that can't have seeds saved. :?
~ OrganicTexasMama, newly entering the world of organic container gardening

cynthia_h
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Diva is described as "parthenocarpic" and was an All-American Selection in 2002, so yes a hybrid.

Cynthia

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I've always wondered about the difference as well. Someone explained that organic seeds will have been grown in the absence of artificial fertiliser and pesticides and so hopefully the progeny will be better able to cope with those same conditions growing organically than conventional seed.
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DoubleDogFarm
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This means a lot of labor-intensive practices, practices which are undertaken by machines on the conventional, large-scale seed-harvesting farms. People need to be paid; machines don't. THAT is why organic seeds cost more.
Cynthia, Are you saying machinery is not allowed in Organic Farming. Can you show me a site that backs this up.

Machines may not collect a pay check, but maintenance is high.
Someone explained that organic seeds will have been grown in the absence of artificial fertilizer and pesticides and so hopefully the progeny will be better able to cope with those same conditions growing organically than conventional seed.
David, I'm not sure I believe that. I pretty sure if you did a side by side test, their would be no genetic difference. I've also read that if you save your own seed they will acclimate / acclimatize to your growing conditions. It may take a few growing cycles / years, but I'm a little skeptical here also.

Eric

cynthia_h
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Good and righteous question, DDF. I've spoken with [url=https://www.ccof.org/]CCOF[/url] (California Certified Organic Farmers) members at local farmers' markets over the years--not an interrogation, but casual conversations as time goes by.

The tenor of our conversations is that, due to the need for non-chemical pest control, non-chemical weed suppression, and the like, it was often a close financial call between the high costs of an organically acceptable (to the certifying organization) insecticide/fungicide/whatever was needed and/or herbicide--if any such even existed at the time--and paying something over minimum wage to people who would take care of the plants.

In either case, people would be needed, either to apply the organically approved substances *or* to do the work of removing pests/weeds themselves. And, of course, the end users (us) of the produce/seeds would see this additional expense reflected in the purchase price.

Not one of these organic farmers said that s/he was prohibited from using machinery, but almost all of them used phrases to the effect of "unlike large farms, we..." when referring to sending tractors down the rows to disc out weeds, etc. It was my impression that, given the smaller size of the organic farms (maybe now they're a little larger, but surely not like corn/grain agribusinesses in the Midwest), such machinery was a financial sink, not source.

Cynthia
Last edited by cynthia_h on Sun May 22, 2011 5:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.

tomc
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It has looked to me for many years that there was (at least) two schools of thought. I dunno if I want to promote one or the other.

Seed is seed, is seed:
Growers cover most of the world. Organic culture to many means the practice in the field. It has much more to do with Indore proccess, and whole lot less to do with organic certifcation. (see foot note)

Its organic, or its something less:
Like a good vegan. There are organic growers who won't use or buy anything not organic. Up to and including the jeans they wear to garden in.

Foot note
What this does not cover and are sometimes confusing to new gardeners are the following side issues.

Open pollinated, F1-hybrid, GMO seed stocks.

The simplest way I can generalize open pollinated seed, is in seed cataloges it either gets no copyright or other disclaimer, other than an occasional (and compleatly misleading "heirloom" provinance). By habbit open pollinated seed will reproduce an identical plant from its seed.

F1 hybrid: Should be noted as such in seed cataloges. There is nothing inherently unsafe in growing them, other than they may not grow true to type, from the next generation-so you get to keep on buying them. F1's do have very uniform growth and ripening habits; which are a desirable habit for commercial growers.

GMO's: are not offered in retail quantity. of any type I am aware of.

In summation; is it absolutely nesisary to grow organically with only organic seed? To some it is...
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EatandLiveGreen
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tomc wrote:The simplest way I can generalize open pollinated seed, is in seed cataloges it either gets no copyright or other disclaimer, other than an occasional (and compleatly misleading "heirloom" provinance). By habbit open pollinated seed will reproduce an identical plant from its seed.
Can you give more details on the "misleading 'heirloom' provenance"? To understand it correctly, an heirloom would simply be a seed that has never been grown commercially or on a large scale. It would be those varieties that are simply grown on small scale farms or homesteads correct? Would the misleading part be that seeds being sold as 'heirlooms' really in fact may not be?
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DoubleDogFarm
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If I understand it correctly, it's based on time and maybe popularity.

Like a twenty year old car is a classic and over 45 is an antique.


Eric

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It seems that everyone is in agreement that an "Heirloom" must be an open pollinated (not hybrid) variety.
There is some dispute over the time requirement. Some say varieties from prior to 1950 are heirlooms, and others say an heirloom must be at least 100 years old.

tomc
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Can you give more details on the "misleading 'heirloom' provenance"? To understand it correctly, an heirloom would simply be a seed that has never been grown commercially or on a large scale. It would be those varieties that are simply grown on small scale farms or homesteads correct? Would the misleading part be that seeds being sold as 'heirlooms' really in fact may not be?
There is nothing by way of horticultural practice (or via USDA) that forbads seed houses from claiming most any open pollinated seed as an heirloom.

If you croud one of the matriarchs of OP tomato growing (like Carolyn Male), you'll get what amounts to the old newsletter standard of +50 years old open pollinated cultivars as the 'standard'. its ok by me if she calls 'em that.

Seedhouses can and have listed OP tomato as recently developed as Traveler, as an heirloom. solely because it permits a higher retail price.

I won't go into fuzzy headed mythology of which goose bean seed was taken from.

Please don't take this as an agrument against growing open pollinated plants. They are nearly my entire inventory.

Also please don't take my reluctance to grow F1 hybrid as a compelling reason not to grow those either. F1's utility for commercial growing and disease resistance for them that need it should be reason enough to grow them.

Muddling all together with GMO's is a disservice that I credit to Jere Gettle, and Dave Belanger. It does not help the new gardener find their own way to a full pantry.

I'm growing again this year, Burpee's Long Keeper a favorite of mine. Its a fine OP tomato for my early winter plate as a fresh tomato. Burpee stopped selling seed a number of years ago. Saving seed of them is all there now is for my gardening option.

We are getting far afield from; does seed need to be certified as organic ? To be grown as organic; again I'll repeat, to some it does.
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One detail that I don't think has been covered so far is that most seed suppliers who are legitimate? genuine? about providing organic seeds will clearly state that their organic seeds are not "treated" with fungicides or other chemicals. I have inferred from this that "conventional" seeds are sometimes (always? often?) fumigated to prevent pests that may eat them in storage or to keep the seeds from molding and dying in storage or in cold wet soil before they can germinate.

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Re: Organic seeds necessary for organic gardening?

Back to the original question. If you want to be certified organic then all inputs must be organic from fertilizer to pesticides, to seeds and starts.

Seeds to be certified organic must also be grown organically.

Diva is a hybrid and it is also parthenocarpic so, it requires two different parents. As far as I know, it was developed through old fashioned hybridization.
Hybrid seeds can be organic if they are grown organically.

So, if the Diva seeds were grown organically, it should still be organic.

Some places do grow seeds organically, but are just not certified. If they are selling seed they cannot label it organic unless they meet the criteria for the labeling.
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tomc
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Re: Organic seeds necessary for organic gardening?

For my limited needs. I want to be told if the seed I'm buying is treated with fungicide.

its up to me to get the plants in my field the temperature they need. I don't want my seeds viability to come from an inedible chemical that will accumulate in my ground.
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imafan26
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Re: Organic seeds necessary for organic gardening?

Usually treated seeds are labeled as treated and would not be organic. Treated seeds are usually colored pink or green or some other color and the package usually will say it has been treated because they don't want anyone eating the treated seeds.

Most seeds are treated with Captan. It usually says captan treated seeds on the label. The captan is useful for certain seeds that are susceptible to seed borne diseases, rots, and dampening off.
Captan does not have a long residual. the half life is someting like 2-20 days. It has been used as a seed treatment for many years.

It is toxic, but normally people and animals don't eat it. It can be an eye irritant and can cause eye damage so if you are using the dust you should take precautions stated on the label.

https://npic.orst.edu/factsheets/captantech.pdf
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