Are Survival Seeds a Good Idea?

I think having survival seeds is an essential part of any long-term survival plan, but there are a couple of things that you need to take into account.

Rows of Seed Packets

1. Not all seeds are created equal. You need to be very careful when picking out which types of seeds to buy. At the very least, your seeds should be organic; but you also need to make sure you are buying them from a reputable dealer. A number of companies have been toying with the idea of so-called “suicide seeds” or “terminator technology.” This technology makes any seed that you plant produce a second generation seed that is sterile.

survival seed bank2. Know your climate. When buying seeds, you are probably better off staying away from those pre-packaged one-year supply deals. I say this because you really want to individualize your personal seed bank by buying seeds that are suited for your climate. What grows well in the Midwest, may not do so well in Florida, or the desert southwest.

Go to your local greenhouse or garden supply store and find out what types of seeds are best suited for your area.

3. Will you eat it? Just like when building up your food storage preps, you need to think about what foods you and your family will actually eat. Growing a field full of corn is great, but if everyone in your family hates corn, it may not be such a bright idea.

4. Practice growing before the SHTF. Growing food is extremely hard and takes years of practice to get good at. Don’t wait until things go bad; start a small garden and learn how to grow the types of foods that you plan on growing when the SHTF.

5. Make sure you have other options. As I said above, growing your own food is hard! A lot of people buy these one-size fits all seed bank packages and think they are somehow prepared to survive. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. Even if you are an experienced gardener there are far to many variables to rely solely on your seed bank.

  • First, it takes time to start growing food. You need to have food stocks built up that will sustain you until your garden starts producing.
  • Second, there’s no telling what the future holds; flood, fire and droughts could all pose a serious risk to your survival garden.
  • You need to have a back up plan for those times when growing food may become impossible. Make sure you have a good emergency food supply, a way to hunt and trap game, and knowledge of where the local edible plants are and how to prepare them.

Additional Resources:
I highly recommend checking out Food Production Systems for a Backyard or Small Farm. The DVD is great for those who are trying to figure out a sustainable way to grow their own food. They go over everything from organic gardening techniques and seed saving, to water systems and long-term survival farming. It’s jam-packed with great real life information from a family who is living the lifestyle. It’s a must have for anyone who is serious about long-term survival living.


  1. Joe
    June 24, 2011 at 2:53 am

    All good points.

    On number 1, are you talking about the hybrid seeds vs. heirloom seeds?



  2. The Prepper
    June 24, 2011 at 5:07 am

    I definitely think you should have a collection of seeds and the knowledge of how to grow them. Buying a “emergency seed vault” is stupid IMHO, since you get seeds that other people think you will want to grow and eat. I’ve also yet to see someone actually open one of these emergency seed vaults and plant the seeds, so who knows if they will germinate and produce.

    My recommendation is to make a list of the vegetables you like, find heirloom seeds for varieties that will grow in your area and then put in the time and effort needed to grow them. I’ve made a lot of mistakes to date with my garden, though I’ve learned a crap load in the process!

  3. I won a drawing that Rourke had on ModernSurvivalOnline and received a pack of survival seeds. There were about 40 small packages of seeds. It was not a good selection of vegetables. Too much emphasis was put on what I would call non-essential plants. What would I need with 1000 dill plants? Or 1000 lettuce seeds? They included four or five types of beans but only about 30-50 seeds of each. There weren’t corn or onion seeds. There were several types of root vegetables.

    If I was putting together my own survival seeds package I would not include what they had in this set. If you want to put your own survival seeds together, get what you use, keep them in their packages and put them all into a mylar bag and seal the bag. Or better yet, collect seeds each year from what you grow. These seeds will also last 8-10 years if you store them properly.

  4. Ken T
    June 26, 2011 at 7:21 am

    Having well stored, heirloom seeds on had is definitely a good idea. Call it a “seed vault,” call it a stash, whatever you like, not a stupid idea. If you shop around, there a bundled vaults, or develop your own. Some companies do a little better job of packaging than one might be able to do on one’s own.

    I agree with Whatif that you need not have 1000 dill seeds. You have to plan for what folks (and you) really need. Some dill might be nice, but corn, beans, grains, some veggies…. all as heirloom varieties will come in handy either for your own garden, or as a means of trade to others. Variety is always a key ingredient, so obtain some odder items. There is virtually no storage cost.

    I have a large variety, in deep freeze, all sealed tight. I will begin using these (no matter the world’s events) in the next two years for my own garden, and then replace those stores as I use them. Rotating these stores in important. They can last a long time in freezer IF stored correctly. And, not all seeds last equally well.

    • Renee
      May 4, 2012 at 5:42 pm

      I am interested in what the proper storage method is. I see many articles that state “if stored properly” but do not provide any information on how to do that. Could you provide me with some insight on how to properly store my seeds?

  5. Rion
    June 27, 2011 at 8:42 am

    Why wait until the SHTF, plant the garden now! Each generation of collected seed will be more and more suited to your particular area!

    One crop I MUST recommend for any gardeners in Florida or the southeast are Black Eyed Peas. They grow well in poor soil, can tolerate high levels of heat, and continually add nitrogen to the soil as long as they’re alive. The longer they’re there, the better your soil gets. Got mine “seeds” right from the grocery store.

  6. Connie
    July 7, 2011 at 9:54 pm

    The biggest problem I see with a survival garden is NOT growing but DEFENDING it. Once the seeds sprout you will have to guard it 24/7 from those who did not prepare…It’s not like you can hide it!

    • Gayle
      January 10, 2012 at 10:38 am

      Great point, Connie. I was thinking that same thing…

    • Janice
      July 30, 2012 at 8:51 pm

      I agree protecting your food supply will be paramount. That is why food storage is necessary. If SHTF happens, I would not plant any type of garden for at least 6 months if not longer. I would want to help anyone I could but if you are not in a community that is working together what would be the point. Could you really say shoot someone from stealing from the garden. I don’t think I could. After 6 to 8 months, the people that are around would probably have things in hand I would think. Anyhow, just my opinion.

    • mike
      October 27, 2013 at 7:46 am

      If you can not grow the seeds you have were others can not find the food you need to spend more time learning to do so. We practice this over and over by going to separate place’s and planting and then swapping place’s to see if we can find where the other has planted seeds and do not go look once we do this for months. You need to be able to do this in plain sight. You need to understand you will not be going to this spot every day and leaving a walking path for others to follow to your food.Check the web for info and videos on this will help.Stay safe out there my friends

  7. frank sherman
    July 17, 2011 at 2:37 pm

    I have growing my garden from my own seeds for four years now and know what does well and what does not.why wait till year two to know if you will be able to eat or not.and you can hide your plants with just a little thought.pot growers have been doing it forever and you must be smarter than a bunch of stonies (no offence intended to some good friends)

  8. Mike
    July 22, 2011 at 4:48 pm

    First grow it then collect your seeds then repeat til you get it right, even if you do it a whiskey barrel planter

  9. Charles
    July 30, 2011 at 6:30 am

    Heirloom or open pollinated seeds are what you want. These produce true, some hybrids are labeled “organic” but do not reproduce the same plant.
    Many seeds do not need to be used immediately, some store well for years. Research, research, research.
    IMO, the prepackaged seeds are inappropriate (rip-off) as they are not customized to your area, containing seeds YOU may not be able to grow and are WAY over priced. Practice makes perfect, if you don’t garden now, you will probably not have a good garden when TSHTF.

  10. Dusty
    August 1, 2011 at 5:45 pm

    I have a question about heirloom seed, do you need butterflies or bees for pollination? Or am I supposed to trust the breeze to do the heavy lifting?


  11. frank sherman
    August 4, 2011 at 8:13 pm

    dusty:you can pollinate most plants by hand with a little thought and research. squash is a very good example

  12. Morgan Kale
    August 26, 2011 at 8:17 am

    not to mention the pathogens that love to grow on rye and especially corn, without proper storage you would end up killing yourself.

  13. Lia Machel
    October 23, 2011 at 2:31 pm

    We have been growing the organic garden for many years. Seeds for new varieties of heirlooms come from reputable seed companies…get their catalogs and choose seeds for your Zone. The climate changes are unpredictable here in the Plains, and former choices in tomatoes and cukes for example did not do well for two years, as neighbors found out. We planted those that called for a “cooler climate” like Russian Orange and Black Seaman tomatoes…even this year of heavy humidity (river flood) and high heat, they did great. Butternut squash, giant pumpkins and cantaloupes were prolific, but watermelons took all summer and only now in Oct. ripened. Last Spring was too cool and ground heated slowly. Actually, we had No Spring!
    Okra was planted later and did well. Still harvesting 6 kinds of chili peppers and small round white eggplants. Look for varieties! Grew 6 kinds of tomatoes, lots to can this year.

  14. Lia Machel
    October 23, 2011 at 2:38 pm

    A P.S.: Start your seedlings indoors in a cool climate Spring, and use a good grow lamp system.
    Also, not to worry too much about “invaders” of your garden.
    A friend pointed out that looters want the packaged goods, and have no patience waiting for the garden to ripen. Think about that.

  15. Try it Now
    December 22, 2011 at 6:13 pm

    We have found that more recent seed packages are loaded with duds. So you MUST get some heirloom seeds that you can learn to harvest yourselves.

    Heirloom tomato plants reseed themselves (from fallen fruits) and several dozen free plants will spout in various areas of the garden. That’s how you know you have a strong seed stock.

    Beware of planting foods that you are allergic to, or goitrogenics, such as collards and other cruciferous vegetables, which when not cooked well can cause severe depression in some folks with compromised thyroids.

    Try all your foods first before you invest your $$ in foods that can make your life worse. (You could always barter with them or give them to others in need).

  16. Stealth Gardener
    December 22, 2011 at 6:33 pm

    Vegetables such as Collards, Kale, Mustard Greens and Swiss Chard make a beautiful stealth garden, where you are not allowed to plant in your yard. Try parsley and cilantro, too. A hedge of Collards can be harvested most of the year, and some Kale love the snow. Swiss Chard comes in many colors, as well as Kale, which has many shapes, too. Throw in a few flower seeds and the neighbors won’t know what you have growing there. I won’t waste garden space on these plants because they grow heartily as a hedge at the borders of the property. Beware, deer love Swiss Chard, bean plants, and beet leaves (which you can eat). Some lettuce plants grow very well but do not seem to do well at the table because they are limp and tasteless. Squash flowers are edible and are like a mild artichoke heart in some respect. You can fry them in eggs. By eating the flowers you can control the overgrowth of zucchini too. There are 5-ft-long-zucchini bearing plants which can grow on a wall trellis that have a leaf that is milder than spinach and tastes wonderful in spaghetti sauce with Italian sausage. That squash is good to eat too, only several feet long! The leaves can be frozen.

  17. meg
    January 3, 2012 at 11:56 am

    We get our seeds from seed savers exchange, which features organic, heirloom seeds that can be saved from that years produce and planted again and again. Each year you save seeds from your best producing plants you develop seeds that are genetically fit for your garden. Learning to save seeds is a valuable skill for when SHTF scenarios, seeing as how obtaining seeds from other sources, let alone ones suitable to your particular area and climate, is going to become extremely difficult.

  18. Jim
    January 12, 2012 at 3:07 pm

    The critical thing about a survival garden is growing enough calories. Yes, I can grow zucchini, cucumbers, and radishes until the cows come home, but they are extremely low-calorie foods. You have to learn to grow calorically-dense food. Think corn, beans, potatoes and sunflowers (to press seeds into oil). Also, while you can use organic gardening techniques, having a quantity of pesticides on hand in case of an infestation can be the difference between life and a slow, starvation death.

  19. Harlan
    January 21, 2012 at 11:10 pm

    Who are the reputable seed distributors?
    I guess consider quality, seeds offered, other information offered, who owns that company (hopefully not Papa Company, making bank on screwing people over elsewhere in the consumer world) and so on.

  20. Don
    January 23, 2012 at 11:58 am

    It’s important to remember the rule of 3. A seed stash is a good 1 but make sure you have at least 2 other sources for food.

  21. D
    January 25, 2012 at 2:50 pm

    As regards the “thousand dill plants”, you must learn HOW a specific plant propagates. Dill, for example, must be planted in clumps–several seeds per pot or spot. Not all of the seeds will germinate. When planting your garden, you have to remember the medicinal values of your plants. Dill can be used as baby dill to freshen a plain salad, spruce-up potatoes, but also acts as a digestive aid. In times of turmoil, I know I get the “belly curdles”. Dill is invaluable for gas,indigestion and belly aches. Plus, you can’t think of your garden as having its value just during the growing season; you have to think of what you are going to need BEYOND harvest time. Dill has a relatively short growing season (for leaves), then you can look forward to the seeds, which you will need to pickle those cucumbers for winter. The bottom line is, always think past the “grocery store-availabilty” of your garden. You are going to have to learn the old ways.

  22. TabWyo
    February 28, 2012 at 1:46 pm

    My wife and I have been gardening for a few years now. I purchased “storage” heirloom seed this year. With the intent to plant most if not all of it this growing season. Seed don’t keep indefinitely. Even the nitro-packed and sealed kind. The proverbial doo doo hasn’t hit the fan yet….. but I don’t want to learn on the fly. I’d rather get the majority of my novice caused failures out of the way now when a big garden is still basically a luxury and not a necessity.

    This being 100% heirloom seed I also fully intend to save the seed from what I for a bigger garden next year. Seed saving is also one of those deals where the newer you are to it the more you are going to screw up. Once again I’d rather get the novice induced failures out of the way now.

    This is also my families learning curve for canning, dehydrating and cellaring what we grow. Once a again…. want to get the novice failures out of the way before we have to actually depend on what we know.

    The moral of my long winded post is it’s never too EARLY to start. Gardening is a thing I love to do. It connects me to my land. It contents my soul watching my family receive nourishment from something I’ve grown. Gardening isn’t something I approach as a SHTF preparation. IME when you think of things in those term you tend to get lax and or never get around to it because you either figure you have enough time to get to it eventually. or not enough time to make a meaningful effort. This is something I’ll do for the rest of my life, while I am able. This is something I want to do for fun and if I end up needing it in a SHTF situation then so be it. Not something I see as having to to to be ready…. making stuff seem like work is a good way to demotivate yourself from doing it.

  23. Carlene Walker
    March 19, 2012 at 6:55 pm

    What are the names and e-mail addresses of some companies that sell these seeds that will reproduce year after year. Thanks

  24. Carlene Walker
    March 19, 2012 at 6:58 pm

    We live in the mountains of colorado. 9000 feet above sea level. We need a book on what will grow up their. Thanks

    • orangebrown
      July 10, 2012 at 9:10 pm

      I live at 8,800 in CO and have successfully been growing everything from potatoes to beets, carrots, peas, zucchini, salad, chard, onions, kale, tomatoes, pretty much anything… I planted Bali cherry, haralson and sweet sixteen apple, and mount royal plum… you can do a lot at your altitude, its just a little more challenging.

  25. diannamarsolek
    April 6, 2012 at 12:26 pm

    i use our donkey for plowing the garden i use the horses and his poop to fertilize it and i get heirloom seeds from friends and others i trade chickens are a good thing for the garden thy are my best bug eaters as well as ducks we plant potatoes ternups beets onions cabbages corn carrots and others that do well here in the great northwest we also gather berrys and fruits blackberry’s apples and pears are free here we also cut our own hay and butcher our own meats but if you live in town get friends that dont and share what you have with each other you may be able to do things thy cant and get stuff

  26. Deshala Hall
    April 19, 2012 at 9:11 am

    i reall dont like this article

  27. curtis
    April 23, 2012 at 9:51 pm

    be ware of GM seeds,terminator plants sterilize others they cross polinate not plant GM seed near your good seeds

  28. Just starting
    July 3, 2012 at 1:15 pm

    Hi Everyone,
    I’m a ‘newbie’ and just started prepping and have a concern. I live in an apartment with a small balcony on the second floor and am wondering if it’s possible to grow in pots. I’ve researched it to some extent but have never had much of a green thumb. Is there hope for people in my situation? Great site by the way…very informative. Thanks!

  29. dale
    September 19, 2012 at 10:03 pm

    Let me start by saying I am a farmer and rancher, I grow crops for a living so I feel competent to give some advice here. While growing organic and nonhybrid crops will eventually become a necessity in a post-apocalytic world, it would be foolish to choose to do so in a survival situation. Most of the world grows heirloom organic crops…they live on the brink of starvation every day because of it AND THEY KNOW WHAT THEY ARE DOING. From the comments on here most of you have never raised a crop in your life. Heirloom varieties are great for taste, but for caloric yield and disease resistance include some hybrids in your seed mix. FOr growing calories, the single best option for most of the US is corn. Here is where I think most of you on this site are WAY off base in your thought. First of all, the seed from hybrid crops is NOT sterile as most of you seem to think. It simply reverts back to a mixture of the parent varieties. This is a problem with modern farming, as the offspring will be different heights and maturities and cannot be harvested mechanically which requires uniform ripening and height. With hand harvest, not a problem.
    Second, forget the sscare stories about GMO corn, it is not toxic except to caterpillars and rootworm larvae, nor is it sterile, nor does it sterilize other plants. GMO corn has been the majority of the corn in the food chain for over 15 years, if these scare stories were true we would all be dead by now. Farmers grow the stuff for a reason. GMO Hybrid corn can yield over 200 bushels per acre with good management, while open pollinated varieties seldom exceed 30. An acre is 43,560 square feet by the way. If you have only a few thousand square feet of garden, that may mean the difference between all of your family having enough to live or having to pick and choose which of your kids has to starve. A person needs about 600 pounds of food or more per year, and a bushel of corn weighs 56 pounds. A full acre of organic open pollinated corn will produce enough to feed about three people, while a GMO hybrid with fertilzer and chemicals can feed a dozen to as many as 20. How many of you have handweeded an entire acre, by the way? I have, it is a fulltime job, no hyperbole. You will hoe from sunrise to sunset for about three months, and after the first day you will do it with no skin left on your hands if you are picking up a hoe for the first time.. Heres a better idea. Buy GMO corn resistant to ROundup, and have a gallon of ROundup on hand. Roundup kills nearly all weeds. Yes, it is made by the evil Monsanto but the stuff flat works, is extremely safe to humans and is easy to use. AN hour with a hand sprayer can replace a weeks worth of hoeing.If TSHTF, you will have a LOT of things to do other than hand weed. ANother good herbicide to have on hand would be Poast, which kills grassy weeds in broadleaf vegetable crops. I would also keep on hand a good general insecticide with low mammalian toxicity like permethrin, if you are depending on a crop for your very survival and a wave of chinch bugs or armyworms move in, you will starve.Think about it, this nation grows about 90 million acres of corn every year, and every acre raises a crop of corn feeding insects. After a collapse, where will all those bugs go to eat when those 90 million acres didnt get planted because there was no diesel? Thats right, your garden. Might also be handy for mosquitoes. I would also have some fertilizer on hand, soil test your growing area to find out what you need and build your soil up before TSHTF when fertilizer will be difficult to procure. Be sure to have legumes in your crop mix to provide nitrogen, but remember that only is available the year after the legume is grown. Using some nitrogen fertilizer in year one may be crucial. Learn to grow organically by all means, but in year one after a collapse having all the crutches of modern farming may just keep you alive when all the organic farming-for-the-first-time-in-their-life crowd is starving. You all can do what you want but my recommendation is to use the crutches of modern farming as long as you can if your life depends on a successful crop.

  30. robinson
    December 7, 2012 at 1:46 am

    I have to say Dale I agree. As much as I like and agree with the other comments I’ve read when it comes to life or death I want all the crutches I can get. I think growing an organic garden now when your life doesn’t depend on it will teach you many lessons that will be invalueable. Gardening is basically easy, growing food to survive is a whole different story. I’m using the crutches while they last. My next step is going to be educating myself on the points you have made. Thank you, you may have just saved my families lives. By the way I love the “organic farming-for-the-first-time-in-their-life crowd is starving” comment. I hope others take your advice to heart.

  31. Shannon
    February 11, 2013 at 11:58 am

    We should listen to Dale! If farming will be your main food source, do all that you can to ensure that it stays constant and yields. Also, when the SHTF I think it’d be a good idea to find a sort of a hiding spot for your crops. That’ll be difficult considering that hiding spots are usually small, but it may protect your crops to put them in an ‘out of the way’ spot. People will take all your food like locusts and think nothing of it if they’re near in area with heavy foot traffic.

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