Organically grown seed may be worth planting
Organically grown vegetables are increasingly popular because people don’t want to eat foods sprayed with pesticides. Nowadays you can even buy organically grown seeds, for planting. Because these seeds are for planting, not eating, some people question whether they are worth buying.And rightly so — if you believe that organically grown seeds are seeds that have not been dipped in pesticide before being put into a packet. You know those seeds, the ones whose hot pink color serves as warning that they are only for planting, not eating. After all, some seeds — sunflowers, beans, and peas, for example — are as commonly eaten as planted.Somewhere on the packet, a statement is made to the effect that the seeds have been treated, so are never to be used for food or feed.You might want to avoid treated seeds because you don’t want to put pesticide into your soil and because they take the fun out of planting. These are seeds that children should not touch. The pesticide does lessen chances of seed rot, but good soil and timely planting do the same thing.But “organically grown seed” really means something else. Such seeds are harvested from organically grown plants. Those pink seeds mentioned above were treated with fungicide after they were harvested. Most seeds offered for sale have not been grown organically, but also have not been treated after harvest with a fungicide.Any pesticides or fertilizers used on conventionally grown — that is, nonorganically grown — seeds probably have little effect on the seeds themselves. Seeds ripen within a husk or fruit and few pesticides move within plants. Likewise, how a plant is fertilized generally does not dramatically change nutrients within its seeds.Still, there is some merit to planting organically grown seeds. After several years of being grown and collected without help from pesticides and heavy fertilization, organically grown seeds may tolerate stress better than pampered seeds. Then again, seeds are generally grown in climates more congenial and free from stress than those in your garden.The most compelling reason to plant organically grown seeds is philosophical rather than practical.In using such seeds, you are supporting organic agriculture, a system that is both environmentally friendly and sustainable. The most important difference between planting a conventional seed and an organically grown seed is not so much what pesticides they might or might not bring to your garden, but how much pesticide or other environmental insults our planet sustained in the growing of that seed.
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