A bit more on saving seed from You Grow Girl site.
- Open-pollinated, Heirloom and Hybrid
- Before you decide to save the seeds from a particular plant you will need to know whether they are Open-pollinated, Heirloom or Hybrid. Open-pollinated plants are those pollinated--naturally or through human intervention--by the same species of plant. Heirlooms are older plant varieties that have maintained relatively unchanged in a particular region for several generations, and all are open-pollinated. Hybrids are plants that have been cross-pollinated using two different species of the same genus of plant. They are bred professionally under controlled conditions, to produce certain desirable traits. Grocery store produce is usually hybridized and often bred for mass production or large-scale farming. Many of the characteristics that are bred into these plants, such as thick skins for transport, or high water content for size, are not desirable for small-scale gardening. This is one reason why you may not want to save seeds from store bought produce. Seed packaged for the home gardener by seed companies may also be hybridized. These plants are bred to contain traits that are desirable to the small scale gardener such as colour and taste. However, seeds produced by these hybrids doesn't guarantee that those desirable traits will be carried over to the next generation. In most cases the such traits may actually disappear entirely after a few generations. Or the seeds may be sterile and won't produce fruit anyway. Either way, growing seeds from hybrids is a gamble. Checking the seed packet or catalogue of the grower is one way to find out whether seed are hybrids. Packets will often say F1 to indicate hybrids or OP to indicate open-pollinated.