Sunday, June 13, 2010


I have an odd fascination with some of them. While I get what they are doing, why they are doing it and applaud several of them for their efforts at thinking ahead.. there are a few that make me shake my head or flat out are a bit scary.
I suppose that because seeds have always been a fascination for me that it pointed out what I see as a rather big hole in many of their plans. Many of them think far enough to pack seeds.. and even point out that one should pack non-hybrid seeds in their reserves... but .. but... always there is a but..


Worse yet.. many buy into to that gimmicky pvc "seed bank" of delusional security. That whole thing makes me cringe as so many are feeling this false sense of security to such a degree that they post videos on youtube about their pride of that purchase. Reality is that most all of them couldn't tell you how to even get a plot of dirt prepped for a garden.

So there are a ton of people all looking glassy eyed at this piece of plastic and thinking... "whew! I got that covered.. I am good to go!" Yeah... only if by some freak chance all plant disease and pests as well get eradicated.

There are strains not found in seed catalogs... not sold by seed distribution companies.. they are raised by a few hundred people... or even just one. Most people think there are maybe a hundred or so cultivars of tomatoes.. all they see are the ones in the seed racks or the transplants at the nursery. There are literally thousands.

Now while some crops are easy to sae seeds from.. like beans and peas and often peppers.. others are a challenge. Squash... because C. Pepo is a species with so many different summer squash and a few winter squash with heavy pollen and nectar producing flowers that bees go berserk (read.. cross pollination galore unless you deliberately take steps to prevent it).. or corn which can send out millions of pollen grains for a week which is carried on the wind (again.. something you need to time the bloom of, know isolation distances, or know how to bag them.)

How about those that need to be over wintered to get seeds? Root crops that have good storage ability, often the crops eaten in the winter.. kinda important ones you want to keep going.

Herbs, flowers and especially cover crops get overlooked. Yes... flowers. Here's my point.. pollinators are important. You want them to set up shop so that your garden is productive. Although they do have a range to wander in their foraging pursuits... it isn't nearly as far as the typical person thinks it is. While not every survivalist is going to keep bees... anyone gardening food crops knows the importance of pollinators. Many crops have multiple purposes aside from putting food on the table... learn to save those seeds too. Alfalfa for example... nitrogen fixing plant that also is a feedstock for livestock, blooms attract some bees and other pollinators, helps prevent soil erosion. Clover is another multi tasker.. bee forage, livestock forage, green manure source, nitrogen fixer.. and some of them are edible (tea can be made from it as well the greens can be cooked).

I suppose my gripe is that you can just pick up a bunch of seeds and think you have all of your bases covered. If one is so worried about crops being stolen... hedge your bets and plant an orchard. Variety outside of the box store offerings. Actually grow the plants and save the seeds. Grow the seeds you saved and see how well you have done maintaining the strain. Know how to store the seeds properly. I mean how many survivalists have desiccant on their "must have" list?

A plastic storage bin with seeds in paper bags that someone has written the date they purchased them all over means nothing when it gets invaded by bugs... or worse... moisture.

Another thing.. some seed packets.. the seeds are already several years old. When they put a "sell by" date.. as they legally have to.. all it means is this.. a germination test was conducted, and the seed passed the testing requirements.. the date means nothing more than a window of time (13 months) in which the seed can be sold.

Knowing how to perpetuate a crop might just be a factor they would want to practice. Knowing how to select for traits, avoid genetic bottlenecking, be able to identify and handle disease/pests etc. is something over the last few generations that has fallen on the back burners. It used to be common practice in many households as it was key to survival. (As was diversity of plantings and foraging.)

That's my thoughts on that for the moment.


  1. a very good post. I was actually thinking about doing a post on seed storage and how not to buy into those survival seed banks.

    I store my seeds in two year boxes. One for the current year and the other for the next year which is being built. I use ammo cans with good seals and dessicants with seeds wrapped in paper inside.

    I would have to say that most every survivalist or prepper knows about dessicants though.

    You are also very correst ont he cross pollination of squash, heirloom squash is hard to find.

  2. Yes... and no about the desiccants. They don't store them in the right containers or think a ziplock covers it. Airtight (which ziplocks aren't) ideally dark and temperature control needed. Plus if you dry out most seeds to about 3% moisture you can store a lot of them for decades in the freezer... as well a treatment in the freezer will also kill off some bugs that eat the seed. Although the test to see if seed has dried enough is that they snap in 1/2 when folded and do not bend.

    Ammo boxes are flippin' perfect! I have airtight jars for mine. I try not to mess with them too much and go off of a list that has their name (and latin name), date of collection, growth info, how many.. and when planting I refer to a chart I made of what crosses with what. The seeds are in 2 basic categories of cool weather and hot weather.

    Open pollinated and heirloom squash aren't too difficult to find. Some are still popular.. like Black Beauty zucchini.

    Open pollinated means the strain has been stabilized for 7 generations or better. Heirloom are strains that have been maintained for a long time (many decades or more..hence "heirloom") and so they are also open pollinated cultivars. Heirlooms can have some rather temperamental strains.

    Trying to control cross pollination of C. Pepo squash can sometimes feel like you are trying to round up a hundred 6 year olds after they drank a lot of Jolt.

    Then again some people think you can just plant the seeds of an apple and grow a tree that has those same apples. If only that were the case! Palatable apples are one in a few thousand from seed.. which is why they are grafted.

    I hope you do write about the seed banks. Maybe point out that if you do get one or have already gotten one.. don't forget to bury a tool to open it with once you have sealed it and buried it. lol

    The one that totally makes me laugh in between shooting balls of fire from my eyes is a certain "survival" seed bank that sells for $150 plus shipping.

    You can get the MYLAR bags from a lot of sources. Eggplant.. zero nutritional value.. and only offering 1 variety?!? And Brandywine tomatoes.. they are lovely and tasty, but they are finicky seedlings as well the plant is a late season tomato. With ones like Silver Fir Tree and Siberian and Stupice... they too are heirloom/ open pollinated but also early season and more hardy. And.. ONION seed is notorious for not having a long shelf life no matter what glorified packaging you put it in. Long term.. meaning more than a year or two... is by freezing. Period.

    Stopping now.. "survival" seed banks I could rip on for hours. They flat out prey on people with good intentions.