How to prepare your family to survive and thrive in todays uncertain world

Survival Seed Banks – Good or Bad?

Well, I know based on my schedule I announced, today should be a podcast day. But, well, I ran into some technical difficulties, so the podcast should be tomorrow.

Since I burned most of my writing time with trying to get this whole podcast thing to work right, I’m going to keep today short and talk about a garden related topic.

Now I’m betting you’ve all seen those ‘survival seed banks’ that you can get from various places. They talk about having tens of thousands of seeds and being a garden in a can.

Sounds great, right?

Well, not so fast. There’s two major problems with these things.

First off, the advertising is rather deceptive. Sure, you get 30,000 seeds, which sounds like quite a few. Until you realize that most common vegetables have hundreds of seeds per packet. An average packet of lettuce seeds has anywhere from one to two THOUSAND seeds.

Suddenly, that doesn’t look like quite as many seeds.

Second, these survival seed banks are a one size fits all solution. They will have stuff you like, and stuff you don’t like. They’ll have stuff you can grow, and stuff you can’t grow in your area. And they probably won’t have some of the cooler rare items that make your garden unique.

So what do you do instead? Make your own!

Get catalogs from your favorite nurseries and seed vendors, and choose several variants of plants that you know are a fit for both your location and your family. Make sure you have a couple different kinds, and variants that grow in different seasons.

Then put some aside (don’t vacuum seal them, a baggy is fine as long as it’s dry and dark … seeds are alive and need a bit of oxygen) and plant the rest.

Learn how to save seeds, and every fall make your own seed bank for the next few years.

Before you know it you’ll have seeds coming out your ears!

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2 Responses to Survival Seed Banks – Good or Bad?

  1. That’s a great idea, Rudy! I know you’ve mentioned this before, but it’s worth a reminder: If you want to save seed from your own plants from one year to the next, make sure you buy open-pollinated or heirloom varieties to start with. Seed saved from hybrids is unpredictable: it may not germinate, it may germinate and grow a plant without fruit, or it may produce something other than what you’re expecting. Also, different varieties of the same plant family often need to be grown some distance apart to avoid cross pollination. This may or may not be important. For instance, I have grown two varieties of mustard side by side when I don’t really care what the next year’s mustard looks like. But I don’t want my sweet corn and popcorn to cross pollinate.

  2. I always laugh when I read ads for the “survival seed banks.” Clearly these folks are catering to the ignorant and panicked. I’m all in favor of capitalism, but sheesh, how about a little ethics, too?

    I second Granny’s comments, but also recommend Mel Bartholomew’s Square Foot Gardening method to use only a minimum of seeds per season. I find that buying only a single packet of seeds will yield more than enough plants for at least 3 seasons. With proper care, the germination rates do not decline as much as one would think. Saved commercial seed can be supplemented with one’s own home-saved seeds, too.

    In the typical home garden, there is not enough space to prevent cross pollination of related plants. I would recommend planting one variety per season rather than attempting to segregate plants if one is looking to save “pure” specimens.