Another great question came in to Ask Gardenerd:
“I don’t understand what the difference is between organic seeds and
regular seed packets. Are there any benefits of purchasing organic
seeds? Can I buy regular seeds and just grow them organically with the
The short answer to your question is yes, you can essentially get the same results with regular seeds as with organically grown seeds. Here, for the record, is the difference:
Organic seeds are just that – organically grown. In other words, they are grown using sustainable methods from start to finish. No pesticides, no chemical fertilizers, all on land that has been cultivated for at least 3 years using the standards established for Certified Organic farming. Farmers grow flowers and veggies in this fashion and then let the plants “go to seed”, which produces the seeds that come to us in packets.
Regular seeds have been grown and harvested from plants that were treated with pesticides and fertilizers on land that was not necessarily cultivated in a sustainable way, and therefore have an environmental impact as such.
The bottom line is that it’s really up to you. In our world, it’s really hard to be completely sustainable without a lot of effort, but there are things we can do to lighten our load. A lot of people buy organic produce, or purchase carbon offsets for vacation trips. Others bring canvas bags to the grocery store or buy recycled products. Buying organic seeds is just one more way of supporting sustainable practices at production level.
That said, sometimes companies can’t afford the organic certification, but they usually state in the opening pages of their seed catalogues that they grow seed without chemical pesticides or fertilizers. I will back these companies just as I would a certified organic company. I’ll go so far as to say that as long as a seed company has a holistic approach to providing seed (small family farms are most often good for this), then you probably can’t lose.
I hope this helps clear up the confusion. Thanks for writing in. Happy gardening!