Lots of vegetables will have signs saying they are hybrids or heirlooms. What does that mean? Which is best and why? Lets find out!
Hybrids are created when breeders intentionally cross two different varieties of something in an attempt to create an offspring that has positive traits from both parents. For example, puggles are a hybrid dog made by breeding a beagle and a pug.
Modern plant hybrids are the result of years of work to get things just right. Hybrids are often bred to be more disease resistant and reliable producers of large consistent crops of fruit that look just like the ones you buy in the store. In fact, most of the vegetables that you buy in grocery stores are hybrids. Growers prefer them for their disease resistance and reliable performance. Examples include favorites like Big Boy tomato and its even further improved more naturally disease resistant offspring, Better Boy
Heirloom varieties are typically over 50 years old. They are the result of local breeding and seed saving from communities that selected them for their unusual shapes, colors and flavors. This explosion of variability comes with the cost of slightly lower and more variable harvests. Examples are the super flavorful Brandywine and the exotically colored Black Krim.
Which should you grow? All of them! Some people favor the advantages of hybrids with their improved disease resistance and larger more consistent yields.. Other people enjoy the novelty of shapes, colors and unique flavors offered by heirlooms. Whichever you choose, get out there and grow something!