Why You MUST Keep a Seed Bank---Things to Consider
In these uncertain times, it's obviously very important to be prepared for any type of emergency or disaster relevant to the area in which you live. We've seen in recent years the devastation, even in our own country, that floods, hurricanes, blizzards, severe drought, and more can wreak upon a large or small community. We've also witnessed the results of what happens to people who are unprepared in these circumstances. Being basically prepared is something that is just logical to keep your family safe. But how about for the long term? Yes, many of us have a few weeks or months of food and water storage for our family, or at least have a plan of some kind. But just what IF something truly devastating were to happen? The kind of thing that might create a severe food availability problem?
Disclosure: Although I received a bucket of seeds from Heaven's Harvest in exchange for this review, all opinions in this article are my own and reflect my own thoughts and personal experiences. Also, there may be affiliate links scattered throughout this article (mostly to Amazon), and if you happen to click through and make any kind of purchase, I will receive a very small commission at no extra cost to you! Thank you so much for helping support Healing Harvest Homestead! I appreciate you! Heidi
And, if you are interested in other survival articles, find out How to Put Together a Get Home Bag and What to Look for When Searching for a Survival Homestead.
Purchasing a Seed Bank
I have to admit that I have never saved seeds....at least not seriously. I've given it some thought, and have had good intentions, but have never actually gotten around to doing it. I also never really gave much thought to buying seeds specifically for setting aside in case of a long term emergency of any kind...even a family economic emergency. So when Heavens Harvest, a company dedicated to providing survival food and seeds, contacted me about the possibility of doing a review for them, I started doing some research on saving seeds and why it's important, including some of the different options available.
Things to Keep in Mind When Purchasing Seeds for Storage
1) Are the Seeds Open-Pollinated, Heirloom, Non-Hybrid, and Non-GMO?
These are REALLY important factors to take into account when saving seeds. But what do these terms mean?
Open-pollinated seeds are simply seeds that are pollinated by natural means: insects, wind, birds, humans. Pollen floats through the air or is carried from plant to plant. As long as plants are not pollinated by other plants within the same species, these plants will continue to have true to type offspring for years!
Heirloom seeds have a history of being passed down through generations through a family or community and have remained true to type often for decades. These seeds generally produce strong and viable plants that have been successful produces for generations. Heirloom seeds are all open-pollinated, but not all open-pollinated seeds are heirloom seeds.
Hybrid seeds are seeds that have been cross pollinated with other plants within a species to obtain a certain trait. The reason why you do NOT want hybrid seeds is that over time, their production may weaken, and the plants are no longer true-to-type. Sometimes plants will cross-pollinate on their own, but seeds sold as hybrids have been commercially cross-bred. The problem with hybrid seeds is that they are not stable genetically and have not stood the test of time. Generally, gardeners who purchase hybrid seed must purchase seed every year.
Trust me. You do NOT want GMO seeds. Luckily, there are actually few on the market, but the trouble is the pollen grows in the wind. Responsible seeds companies actively test for GMO contamination of their seeds every year. So why aren't GMO (Genetically Modified) seeds ok? Well, GMO seeds are actually created in high tech labs through a process called gene splicing.
Far beyond just cross pollinating within a species of plant, GMO plants are often crossed with completely different species of plant, or worse, across completely different plant kingdoms. An example of this is when Monsanto crossed a strain of bacteria with corn, resulting in "Bt corn" that is actually registered as a PESTICIDE with the EPA, along with other Bt varieties of GMO plants. Source.
I could go on a rant right now, but I'll try to focus here. The bottom line is that GMO's of ANY kind are environmentally dangerous, and not enough is known about them to be sure they are actually safe for human use. Please do more research of your own into the whole GMO issue.
2. How are the Seeds Stored?
This is crucial to know. There are three main enemies of seed storage: Heat, light, and oxygen.
You want to be sure your seeds are stored properly. Bags, such as the type above in the picture from Heavens Harvest are perfect. These are opaque, thick, water-tight, and oxygen free. I was VERY impressed by the quality of the storage of these seeds. Not only are the individual bags perfect, but they came in a resealable plastic bucket. Most seeds I purchase come in regular paper packages, and therefore need to be used right away. NOT THESE! These can be stored away for years!
Heavens Harvest has taken care of the light and oxygen for you, so be sure that you store your seeds in a cool place too. I have heard that you shouldn't freeze your seeds, but I have in the past with no problems. I have also heard that storage around 40 to 60 degrees is a good range. Obviously, we all don't have the perfect root cellar or cool basement, so if you just are aware of the temperature and don't let things get too hot, you'll be fine!
Heavens Harvest takes all the guess work out of seed selection, storage, and number of seeds for you!
3) How Much Do You Get?
Depending on the size of your family and how long you want to be sure you have seeds to grow if you need them in the future will be the main two determiners of how much you want to buy. You should also take into consideration the types of seeds you want.
Heavens Harvest seed buckets come in a variety of sizes so you can choose what's best for your family. This particular seed bucket contains about 125,000 seeds! And I LOVE the fact that the seeds are all common varieties that can be grown almost anywhere.
4) How Viable are the Seeds?
I just had to ask this question and do some actual experimenting to find out for myself. This is also SUPER important! You don't want seeds that don't grow, right?
Since I was getting ready to get my tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant seeds started indoors, I took this opportunity to start the Heavens Harvest seeds. Of course, seeds need certain conditions to grow well (soil, light, moisture, etc.), but if all these factors are met, then you should be able to count on a certain number of seeds germinating.
I looked up the government standards set forth by the Federal Seed Act (yes, the government even regulates seeds in this over-regulated world, I'm afraid), and found that tomatoes should have a 75% rate, peppers should have a 55% rate, and eggplant should be 60%. Source.
Unfortunately, I didn't mark the seeds when I planted them (WHEN will I ever learn...I always think I'm going to remember!), and I'd estimate so far between all the types I started, there is about an 80% germination rate overall! That's really great, and the seeds are still emerging!
Final Thoughts about Buying Your Seeds for the Long Term
I think it's important that all families have a food storage plan, some gardening experiences, plus a plan for just in case you need to grow your own food at some point. Did you know that even into the 1950's, over 40% of American families kept a garden of some type? We need to get back to those days!
With that in mind, you'll need to plan on purchasing and storing HIGH QUALITY SEEDS for both the short term as well as long term use. Keep in mind the seed company's type of storage, the amount of seeds you want, how viable they are, and finally---be sure you are getting open-pollinated, non-hybrid, non-GMO, heirloom seeds!
With all that said, I can honestly say I highly recommend Heavens Harvest seeds. I plan to purchase more in the future, too!
Do you keep a seed bank or store food for emergencies? And what do you think of that idea? I'd love to read your thoughts, so please leave comments! :-)
Hugs & Self-Reliance!
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