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The differences between organic, conventional, non-GMO and heirloom seeds 

Diving into the world of growing microgreens brings with it some terms which may be unfamiliar for you. Some of those terms involve the type of seeds you choose and the nature of your cultivation. This guide will give you a better understanding of the differences between organic, conventional, non-GMO (genetically modified organisms), and heirloom seeds, as well as the pros and cons of each. 


Organic Seeds 

Organic seeds are harvested from plants grown under organic farming condition. These conditions adhere to strict standards that forbid the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers. 

Pros: Purity, environmental impact, health benefits

Organic seeds are free from synthetic chemicals, ensuring a pure start for your microgreens. This type of seed is considered healthier due to the absence of harmful chemical residues. Organic farming practices enhance soil health and biodiversity. 

Cons: Cost and availability

Organic seeds typically cost more and might not be as readily available as conventional seeds. 

Success tips: Make sure that your growing medium and fertilizers are also organic, and pay attention to seed certifications to guarantee authenticity. Maintain a controlled environment to prevent disease, since you will not be using synthetic pesticides.


Conventional Seeds 

Conventional seeds are produced in standard agricultural settings, often using synthetic chemicals and fertilizers. They might include GMOs unless the producer specifies otherwise. 

Pros: Cost-effective, accessible, consistent

Conventional seeds typically are less expensive than organic seeds and more readily available. Designed for uniform growth, they provide consistent results. 

Cons: Chemical usage and environmental concerns

Conventional seeds are likely to be exposed to synthetic chemicals at some point in the process. This can have a negative impact on the environment. 

Success tips: Wash your microgreens thoroughly to remove possible chemical residue. Monitor your microgreens closely for disease or pest issues, since they may be more susceptible when grown without chemicals. Most microgreens suppliers recommend using a fresh growing medium for each crop.


Non-GMO Seeds 

As the name implies, non-GMO (genetically modified organisms) seeds have not been genetically modified. They are produced without the use of genetic engineering techniques. 

Pros: Natural genetics, safer, high market demand

Non-GMO seeds are experiencing increasing demand as growers and consumers seek plants that feature traditional characteristics. They address concerns that people have regarding the long-term effects of consuming GMOs. 

Cons: May not be pesticide-free and lacks resistance to disease and pests

Non-GMO seeds can be grown using conventional farming methods, including the use of synthetic chemicals. They may lack the genetically engineered resistance to pests and diseases. 

Success tips: Be vigilant about the nutrients you make available for your microgreens, as non-GMO varieties might have different requirements than GMO varieties. Implement natural pest control methods and look for non-GMO labeling for assurance.


Heirloom Seeds

 Heirloom seeds are traditional varieties that have been passed down through generations. They are known for their genetic stability and open pollination. 

Pros: Flavor, variety, adaptability

Heirloom seeds are known for their exceptional taste and diverse varieties. Their genetic diversity often makes then more adaptable to varying growing conditions. 

Cons: Inconsistent yields, sensitive to disease, limited availability

Heirloom seeds are relatively fragile when it comes to susceptibility to diseases and producing consistent yields. Some varieties also can be hard to find. 

Success tips: Experiment with different heirloom varieties to find those best suited to your growing environment. A variety of heirloom seeds enables you to enjoy a range of flavors and textures in your microgreens. Have patience, as you may need to go through a learning curve in successfully cultivating their varieties.



Choosing the right type of seed for you is a foundational step in your microgreens journey. Each comes with its own set of characteristics, with some matching well with your level of tolerance when it comes to the use of chemicals and genetic engineering. Understanding the differences will give you a stronger level of confidence and enhance your growing success.


To your health and happiness!

Bonnie Groessl