Most preppers already know that it is vital to have an ample supply of stored food and water on hand. It is equally important to keep and maintain a healthy seed bank precisely because the food supply may become disrupted, and it will be necessary to grow your own emergency food. Properly implemented, a good seed bank can provide for a lifetime of food.
Below are 5 tips on implementing and maintaining a good seed bank as part of your emergency preparedness and the importance of storing seeds:
Tip 1 – Understanding the Function of Seeds
Even an inexperienced gardener knows that seeds go in the ground, and from there plants will grow, but it’s worth taking a moment to understand the purpose of seeds from a plant’s perspective.
Every year, each plant will produce seeds, essentially the offspring or “children”, to be propagated during the next cycle into new variants of the plant. Seeds might be produced by the plant during spring, summer, fall, or even winter sometimes, but all (non-tropical) seeds are designed to blossom and grow in the spring.
Therefore, the vital function of any prepper’s seed bank is to “trick” seeds into thinking that it is winter, so the seeds stay in their dormant phase. Spring is a time for warmth, light, and wetness, while winter is a time for darkness, cold, and dryness. Your first goal in maintaining a personal seed bank is to keep seeds away from heat, light sources, and moisture.
Tip 2 – Open-pollinated, Non-hybridized, and Non-GMO
It’s a sad fact that many of the fruits and vegetables we eat today are not as nature intended, and their seeds are often designed to be sterile and therefore useless in the future if you try to grow a garden from them.
When buying seeds for your seed bank, always buy non-hybridized and non-GMO seeds to ensure that you’re getting a healthy, heirloom variant that will grow as nature intended. Seeds that are open pollinated are versatile enough to be pollinated by a wide variety of insects, or even by hand, if necessary.
Tip 3 – Seeds for Growing and Saving
Take a look at the foods you enjoy eating, and then buy seeds that will grow those plants. A critical part of long term food storage is buying enough seeds that you can grow a year’s supply of your favorite plants.
One important function of your seed bank is to grow enough plants that some can be harvested primarily for their seeds, known as saving seeds. There are special techniques for how to extract, dry, and safely store seeds, so be sure to budget enough seeds in your seed bank to grow plants for the purpose of saving seeds.
It’s also important to understand how plants propagate, and that some, such as onions, garlic, and potatoes, are not grown from seeds but from re-planting cuttings from the original mother plant.
Tip 4 – Self-Pollinating Seeds
Depending on your projections for the future, it may be difficult to find pollinating insects like bees to help your plants grow. Many preppers therefore choose to store up seeds for self-pollinating plants, which can grow on their own without external help.
Excellent self-pollinating seeds include: chicory, peas, lettuce, mustard, endive, beans, and tomatoes.
Tip 5 – Storage and Orthodox Seeds
When building up your seed bank, it’s important to understand exactly how to store seeds, and which varieties can last for longer periods of time.
The term “orthodox” refers to seeds that can be dried and frozen for years, kept in any ordinary home freezer. Some of the most popular varieties of orthodox seeds are: peas, corn, and tomatoes, but approximately 80% of all plant seeds are considered to be orthodox. Even without a freezer, all plant seeds must be kept in a cool, dry, place out of direct contact with the sun or light sources.
The hardest seeds to store are those of tropical plants like coconuts, coffee, tea, mangoes, and papayas, as they are designed for a year-round hot climate and must be planted immediately or very soon after the plant produces them.