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.

24 Comments

  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?

    Thanks!

    Joe

  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?

    Thanks

  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.

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