As I sit here writing this, I am looking at no less than seven different seed catalogs that have come in the mail during the month of December. For me, January is seed-purchasing time. Sometimes the terminology that describes seed can be confusing to a new gardener, especially one lacking a bachelor of science degree. Here are some simple definitions for common terms used in most catalogs to describe the breeding of the seed or its heritage. This can be of importance when choosing seed best suited to your needs.
Heirloom Seed: This refers to an old or traditional variety still grown in gardens today. Often, it is a variety not suited for large-scale commercial production and is seed that is kept from year to year and passed on from person to person. Heirloom seeds are open pollinated — see next definition!