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What does F1 on our seed bags mean?

Vegetable seeds that have been bred for certain traits are called F1 hybrids. These varieties have certain desired traits and don't have certain undesirable ones.
Klimcourgette Black Forest F1
Our climbing zucchini: the Black Forest F1
You'll sometimes see F1 next to the species name on a bag of seeds. That means they are hybrid seeds: from a plant species that has been bred into existence by growers.

Another name for this continued cultivation is called breeding. Breeders do this for different reasons: to get more beautiful fruits or to make them more resistant to certain diseases, for example.

Take our climbing zucchini. Zucchinis take up a lot of space: easily 1m2. The Black Forest F1 climbing zucchini has been cultivated for a longer stem. The longer stem makes it possible to guide the whole plant up a trellis.

So, these improved plant varieties arent scary or unnatural. Growers who work exclusively organically also develop them.

Why do growers breed seeds?

Seed growers do this to enhance certain characteristics of a species and weaken others.

Think of better performance in warmer, colder, drier, or wetter weather. Or a more uniform appearance, a higher yield per plant, or a better taste.

By endlessly crossing and selecting varieties, the growers strengthen what they consider to be the positive traits and limit the negative characteristics as much as possible.

Which F1 hybrids do you sell and why?

Since we use grow bags and vegetable garden boxes, we're looking for varieties that are suitable for this kind of growing. Species that are compact, fast-growing, and yield a lot.

Climbing zucchini Black Forest F1

I already mentioned our climbing zucchini. A normal zucchini plant doesn't fit in a vegetable garden box: it would take over all the other patches and grow over the sides in no time.

But the Black Forest F1 will do just fine. You tie its long stem to a trellis. So it only needs one square patch for the roots. The rest grows upward.

Snack cucumber: Iznik F1
Snackkomkommer Iznik Makkelijke Moestuin
Our Iznik snack cucumber
This snack cucumber has been bred for several traits:
  • the cucumbers won't get bitter
  • they have a smooth and uniform appearance,
  • the plant yields a lot of fruits, and
  • it does well both indoors and outdoors.
Bok choi F1

Most bok choi varieties can only be sown in summer because they bolt quickly in spring. So we chose this variety: it grows quickly, stays compact, and you can sow it both in spring and late summer.
Our bok choi
Deep Purple F1

This purple carrot is specially developed for the anti-oxidant that gives the carrots their deep purple color. It's also good for the heart and blood vessels and also reduces cholesterol. So, in addition to looking beautiful, it is also extra healthy.
Our purple carrot

Are there any downsides to F1 hybrids?

Sure. Like anything else.

F1 seeds are always more expensive.

That's because the breeding process takes a long time and is done by specialized companies.

The higher price is easy to see in our zucchini and snack cucumber. The prices are per seed. But since they're hybrids, they also perform better and yield more. So you get more out of it.

You can't harvest the seeds yourself

If you harvest the seeds of an F1 species yourself and use them to sow again, there's a chance the resulting plants will look different and have different characteristics. Or they may also grow just like the last generation you grew.

Some hybrid species are bred so they won't have any seeds at all. Take the Iznik for example - it hardly produces any seeds.

F1 hybrids can't reproduce themselves. At least, they can't reproduce exactly the same results. That's not a problem for us, but for farmers in poor countries, that's not helpful.

Where do these scary stories about F1 hybrids come from?

Partly they exist because you can't propagate hybrids yourself.

But some people are skeptical because they only know about F1s that are specially bred for intensive cultivation with help from artificial fertilizers, herbicides, and insecticides.

These kinds of varieties aren't affected by Roundup (by Monsanto) for example, while the other plants around them die. The genetic material was often changed and that's how GMOs came to be: genetically modified organisms. We now know this kind of cultivation is disastrous for the environment and threatens biodiversity.

In some countries - like India - Monsanto pushed these kinds of seeds so hard that all other varieties disappeared. This made the farmers highly dependent on the company and left them with no alternative. Not great news.

There are also many positive F1 hybrid varieties

Hybrid plant varieties also help a lot of poor countries. Like species that can handle drought better, or saltier water.

They are also used for less harmful ways of growing: on a smaller scale and with less environmental impact.

In short

If you sow vegetable seeds marked F1, you are growing a variety that has been bred for certain traits.

At Planty Gardening, we only choose F1 hybrids if they are improved in a way that works better with our growing system. These species are more expensive than seeds that are not F1.

Most of our seeds aren't hybrids. We always choose species that meet our criteria.
All of our seeds can be found in the shop.
Have fun sowing!

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