I’m pretty sure you’ve heard about Survival Seeds, right? There are various companies that sell seeds for survival packed in cans or mylar bags or PVC tubes or some other long term storage set up. They are named such things as “survival seed vault”, “survival seed bank”, or just “survival seeds”. They are usually a collection of non-hybrid seeds put together as a package to grow an entire garden and sold with the assumption that you can store them with your food storage and pull them out and plant them when there is an emergency of sufficient significance as to require you to grow your own food indefinitely.
Well, it sounds like a pretty good deal, right? Who wouldn’t want a pre-packaged garden that they didn’t have to plan and could just keep and plant when it’s needed? Well, actually, I don’t. And here’s why.
1. False security. Do you really think you’ll be able to pull out the seeds and plant a garden if you’ve never done it before? After about 15 years of having my own garden, I can tell you that it is a skill that takes practice. I still have things I’m learning and I’m not gardening with the knowledge that my family’s lives depend on what I can produce. You wouldn’t purchase a shotgun and stick it in your storage intending to use it just in an emergency. You’d want to get trained on how to use it and get some practice with it so you could use it properly if you ever really needed to. Same with your garden seeds. Don’t think your garden will produce amazing amounts of food if you’ve never planted a seed in the ground before.
2. Seeds don’t store forever. Some of these companies will be upfront and tell you that the seeds have a shelf life of just a few years. But you probably didn’t pay attention to that when your bought your seeds and set them on the shelf or buried them in your survival cache. Some seeds store very well and still germinate after long periods in storage. Others don’t. So if you want your garden to only grow about half of what was included, go ahead and store it 10 years or so before planting anything. I did, and it didn’t work out very well.
3. You don’t always get what you pay for. I have purchased three different survival seed packages from different companies. Some of these places actually sell you a lot of seeds for a fair price, others don’t. And 1,000 seeds of lettuce or whatever they’re advertising may sound like a lot of lettuce seeds, but you can probably pick up a packet of lettuce with the same amount of seeds in it from the store or Gurneys or even Baker Creek seeds for a fraction of the cost of what they’re charging you for it. Just make sure you’re getting seeds that are labeled as heirloom, open pollinated, or non-hybrid. One company I was very pleased with the amount of seed I received was Hometown Seeds. So if you do want to purchase the survival seeds, that’s one place that had a fair price for the amount of seed you get–and there may be others as well–I haven’t tested everybody’s seed banks out.
4. The varieties are all chosen for you. I live in an area with a slightly shorter than average growing season. Most seeds will grow here. However, if you are in the south or higher elevation or farther north where your growing seasons are other than average, some varieties in the can may not work for you. And what if I don’t like Butternut squash or Bulgarian Carrot peppers? And right now I prefer bush beans to pole beans, they just work better in my garden plot. Well, I don’t get a choice of the varieties that are included in my survival seed can, but if I pick and choose the seeds I want, I can grow the exact varieties of plants that grow well in my area and that my family and I actually enjoy eating. I’d rather have more squash and less lettuce. More beans and fewer radishes. It’s just my preference and I get my preference when I buy my seeds a la carte.
If you’ve never gardened, don’t know what varieties of veggies you like, and want to put down the $25-$150 for a survival seed collection, go ahead. Like I said, I did it. Three times. Do a little research before buying so you know you’re getting a decent price and a fair amount of seed. Having it pre-packaged does take all the guess work out of how many of what varieties of seed to purchase. But here’s my advice–plant those seeds. Learn how to preserve pure seed and harvest your own seeds now. Don’t wait for an emergency to try out your seeds.
As for me, I’ll be purchasing my non-hybrid garden seeds one pack at a time because I know what I want and how long my growing season is. And I’ll be putting them in the ground rather than storing them on a shelf. Happy gardening!