Monday, June 22, 2009

Seeds of survival

Most preppers are familiar with the link I'm about to add but for anyone new to the concept of prepping these will be useful links.
survival seed vault -
Overview - Heirloom Organics/Survival Seed Vault. This company sells buckets of garden seeds for long term storage. Also included are planting instruction and 'seed resources'.
Cost comparison: I pay roughly $2.75 on average for a packet of non-hybrid, high quality garden seeds. The basic package sold by SSV is $99, has 22 varieties of vegetable seeds and a nice storage bucket. Some quick math says 22x2.75= 60.50 + $5 for the bucket= $65.50. This is operating on the assumption that you are only getting one packets worth of each sort of seed and that all the seeds cost roughly the same price per package. Additionally, SSV has done all the research for you and has collected the very best seeds (which could reasonable be valued at more than the going price for regular non-hybrid seed packets). They've also taken the time to properly package them for storage, and everyone deserves to be paid for their time. Overall I consider this to be a very reasonable price for what you are getting. because A. you are getting the best quality seeds B. someone else has done all the work for you and C. They are processed for long term storage whereas storebought seeds are not. The quote below is directly from their site:
Heirloom Organics Non-Hybrid Seed Packs are processed for long-term storage, increasing the shelf-life of our seeds by many years. We use the methods developed and approved by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) for processing and packaging seeds for long-term storage. Heirloom Organics is the only supplier of seeds that has studied and implemented these methods developed by the USDA. No other seeds available today incorporate these advanced methods for seed packaging and storage. Heirloom Organics Seed Packs are truly the food source of tomorrow, packaged with advanced storage methods today.

If you just can't afford $99 all at once you can create a similar survival seed collection yourself with a small food safe bucket and packets of seeds, after a little research. Your storage methods will probably not produce as good results as SSV's but it's better than not having any seeds stored.
  1. The most important point is that you want to ensure that you are storing foods that will grow in your area. This is of particular importance the farther North you go. Nearly everything that grows in New England will grow elsewhere in the country but many things that grow in Florida and other warmer climates will not grow here.
  2. Second in importance is that they be NON-Hybrid (or open pollinated) seeds. Most seeds sold in the US today are hybrids. This is a crucial point of importance because in tough times you will want to be able to save seeds from one season to use in the next. Hybrid seeds are notoriously unreliable because they are... well hybrids. Most hybrids will not produce viable seeds and, if the do, the plant you get from a saved hybrid seed will most likely be very different from the plant it came from. These are fine and acceptable for a single season of gardening (higher quality ones might be good for even two or three seasons) but for long term security you want to stick with something you can count on.
  3. The final attribute to consider is that you want high quality seeds. Most non-hybrids ARE high quality which is why I put this at the bottom of the list. Higher quality seeds have better germination rates so you need to use fewer seeds to get a good crop. Thus, a single packet of seeds will last much longer. They also store longer (because they have better germination rates). In my limited experience I've been able to get equally good germination the second year I used a package as I had the first year. I've never saved seed packets for three years.
Because I live in Vermont I have chosen High Mowing Seeds for most of my seed storage. They are local, sell mostly open pollinated seed, and are excellent quality so I have a high degree of confidence in them. I also have a couple years experience with their seeds and can attest that any I didn't use last year sprouted this year, which will be an important quality in any seed purchased for storage. They do sell organic hybrid seeds that don't use GMO technology.

Drawbacks: The $99 special from SSV is almost all vegetable seeds (though I know it includes oats, wheat, and melons) and I know there are several varieties that my family doesn't eat. They also suggest that this is adequate for 2 people for one year. In theory this would mean that we would need to purchase three of these vaults for our family of 6 or buy the next higher size - the family pack which has more than twice as much seed but only costs 50% more at $149. I feel that the quantity of seeds in the basic vault would be a great starter pack even for a family as large as mine. They also offer fruit, legume, herb and grain seed packs if you want to add variety to your collection. These packets are reasonably affordable and range in price from $34-59. Concerning varieties you don't use - you can either trade the seeds or the veggies for things you DO need.
Though I have not had the opportunity to test the SSV myself I feel quite comfortable recommending it.

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