Part Two: Choosing Seeds for Your Survival Garden
As I pointed out in my last blog, planning for a survival garden takes a different mindset than planning a yearly pea patch. Selecting the right seeds could make the difference between feeding your family in a crisis and seeing them go hungry.
When you put seeds away in your emergency garden cache, you have to choose carefully. You want seeds you can depend on to produce a safe food supply, seeds packaged for long term storage and seeds that are easy to grow.
1. Heirloom or Engineered?
I recommend sticking with heirloom fruit and vegetable seeds, even though hybrid seeds developed in labs are far easier to find. The word “heirloom” on the seed package is one way to identify an older cultivar that is true to its heritage. In general, an heirloom variety predates the mid-20th century when hybrids began flooding the market. In the truest sense, an heirloom seed is one that gardeners have passed on through the generations because it is a reliable producer and a hearty strain. This is just the type of fruit or vegetable you can depend upon in an emergency.
Open pollination is a trait that makes heirloom seeds the best choice for survival gardening. This means that wind, birds or insects fertilize them as nature intended. Open pollination produces viable seeds that you can save and replant year to year for an ongoing source of food. Most hybrid varieties do not produce viable seeds, and manufacturers do not recommend saving or replanting those seeds.
3. Shelf Life
Because you are purchasing seeds for your survival seed supply, longevity is a critical issue. Look at how the seeds are packaged and their expiration dates, if available. Heirloom seeds designed for getting prepared should not come in paper packets, and they should stay viable for several years. Look for specially packed, airtight foil seed pouches that keep the contents fresh over the long-term.
4. Are They Easy to Grow?
I like a challenge just as much as the next guy, but I don’t gamble with survival seed selection. Experimenting with exotic plants might be fun (?), but I want dependable, robust fruit and vegetable varieties I can count on in an emergency. I recommend choosing tried-and-true varieties that will work in your climate and with the type of soil you have. If in doubt, call the company for advice.
If you’re with me so far, check back soon for Part Three of this survival gardening series. We’ll talk about choosing plants that provide your family with the best balance of nutrients in an emergency.
Do you have any tips when it comes to choosing survival garden seeds? How about advice about the best varieties to grow? Please leave your comments below – we’d love to have your input!