How To Make The Most Of Survival Seeds

“I bought these survival seeds so that I can grow all my own food when the SHTF”.

I hear this a lot.   Often from people who have never planted  a seed in their entire lives.   Experienced gardeners must be doing a terrific job of making their work look super easy for so many people to figure that if the world were to explode, they could just till up a little bit of dirt, throw out their package of  survival seeds, and viola!, dinner is served.

There’s a whole lot of people in denial out there folks.  A whole lot.

Many of these people couldn’t even tell you what type of seeds are in that survival  seed kit, or if their family even likes those vegetables.

How To Make The Most Of Survival Seeds

 

How to make the most of survival seeds.

1.  Do your researchHow much land you have will determine the type of garden you’ll create.

Suburban homesteader?   Check out All New Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew,  Mini Farming:    Self-Sufficiency on 1/4 Acre by Brett L. Markham, and The Backyard Homestead by Carleen Madigan.

Urban homesteader?   Grow what you need in pots!  The years my family spent living in a major city in Turkey we grew in pots on our balcony.  The Vegetable Gardener’s Container Bible will get you started.

Another strategy would be to sprout your seeds for fresh eating.  Ann Wigmore leads the way in teaching about sprouts and their health benefits in The Sprouting Book.

Ready for the Big Leagues?   You’ve got your land, paid your dues and ready to go off grid?  Here’s a few resources to take a look at:  The Encyclopedia of Country Living by Carla Emery, John Seymour’s The Self-Sufficient Life, and Abigail R. Gehring’s classic, Back to Basics would be good places to start.

how-to-make-the-most-of-your-survival-seeds

2.  Gain some real life, hands on gardening experience……..NOW.

Gardening has always been a part of my life and my husband grew up tending his grandparents  acres and acres of garden. That’s a lot of gardening hours and we still have years that where certain things are total flops.  Let’s face it, you learn from your mistakes.  Take that time to make those mistakes now, rather than in an emergency situation.

3.  Make friends with other gardeners.

Pick their brains for gardening information specific to your location.   Trust me, gardeners love a willing audience.

what-to-know-before-you-buy-survival-seeds

 

Save your own survival seeds!

Every gardener should learn how to save seeds.

The day might come when ordering your seeds on the internet is no longer a possibility.   Suzanne Ashworth and David Cavagnaro’s Seed to Seed:  Seed Saving and Growing Techniques for Vegetable Gardens., is a must have for any gardener.

 

Want to know my very best advice in regards to creating a plan for using your survival seeds?

HAVE AT LEAST SIX  MONTHS OF FOOD STORAGE ON HAND.
If your personal emergency comes about in the dead of winter, what will you eat?  What will you eat while your garden is making it’s way to harvest?

Food security can’t be found  in a box of survival seeds.   Experienced gardeners would find it challenging to grow everything  to keep body and soul together for a year.   Factor in the amount of physical work growing all your food would require and, well, you get the idea.

Survival Seeds can be an excellent ‘Plan B’

Keep growing those gardens! Plant those fruit trees and berry bushes!   Gardens are a major  component of your food storage plan.   A wonderful, healthy, financial friendly, much needed component, that helps free up much needed cash  you can use to buy your three months supply of what your family normally eats, and then a year’s worth of longer term food storage.

‘Cause thinking when the SHTF you’ll  rip up your lawn and grow everything you need with that box of survival seeds, simply ain’t  going to keep your family fed.

How do you plan to feed your family in case of an emergency?

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Starting Seeds Indoors: Germination

Starting seeds indoors? Really? Already? If you are like me, and still having huge storms at the end of March, it may be hard to remember that it is time to get those seeds started indoors! But believe it or not, it is.

Steps for Starting Seeds Indoors:

  1. Buy fresh seed-look for the date stamp on packet. Remember that many preppers buy more seed than needed to store. If you are going store left over seed make sure to leave them in a cool, dark place and clearly mark them.
  2. Pick a date- I like to start my peppers and tomatoes the first week of April. Here in the Denver area many people use Mother’s Day as the planting date but I have seen too many late May snowstorms blow in and I feel safer with a Memorial Day plant date. Your outside plant date needs to be shortly after the danger of frost has disappeared in your area. Once you have your ‘plant outside date’ you need to read the seed packet carefully. The seeds below should be started 5 1/2 weeks before your desired plant outside date. Starting seeds indoors: how to read seed packet
  3. Gather your seed germination supplies.

    In addition to seed, you will need:

    • Drip Tray
    • Dome cover or plastic wrap for humidity. You can buy these or use plastic cake covers like what you would get when buying cupakes (ask your bakery or treat the kids)
    • Jiffy Peat Pellets or
    • Root riot starter cubes or
    • soil-less, sterile seed starter mix like Fertilome or EKO
    • chopsticks or a sharpened pencil

    I found Jiffy Peat Pellet trays with the domes and pellets on sale at Lowes for $6 so I decided to use those this year.
    jiffy peat pellet trays

  4. Plant your seeds at the right depth-after you follow the directions on watering your soil less starters you need to refer back to your seed packet for the right planting depth. The seeds we were looking at above need to go in at 1/4″. Get a chopstick or a sharpened pencil and measure that mark on your planting stick. Now use it to make a hole in the center of each pellet just to that depth, place a seed in and lightly cover it up. The number one thing people do wrong in the germination process is bury seeds too deep.
  5. Provide the right heat and light. For most plants (especially tomatoes and peppers) you are going to want to use a heat mat under the tray to keep them warm enough. These are usually around $30 and are designed to fit one planting tray. They last forever and I consider them a good investment.
  6. Water often but carefully. Use a mister to water your seedlings. You want the tops slightly damp but don’t soak! Mold will become a problem under those domes so make sure to check for too much condensation. If it starts to look like a rainforest under there you will need to vent them. You should be able to see through the domes with a light layer of condensation on the top.germination with heat mat and dome
  7. Check your seeds often. It seems like nothing happens for days and then all of a sudden you have plants on your hands! seedlingAs soon as plantlets start to pop up you need to move them to a south facing window or put them under grow lights. I use full spectrum grow lights that are set to 3″ above the leaves for 12-14 hours a day. I just don’t get enough sun for them in a window.
    plants starting under grow lights
  8. Water. Use warm water and water from the bottom up. Let the seed trays do the work. Mist your plants often as most seedlings like 50-70% humidity. I like to put the domes back on at night when I shut the lights off.
  9. Fertilize: Once the seedlings have developed their first set of true leaves fertilize with a half strength liquid fertilizer.
  10. Pet your seedlings. I know this sounds crazy but you are trying to harden them off from the winds they will have to face outside. Just open your palm and run over the tops gently.
  11. Get ready to move them to larger pots. I am just about to move these artichokes, rosemary and butterfly over to bigger pots so I can get my tomatoes and peppers started. I’ll post those pictures as soon as I do.

 

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Starting Seeds Indoors

Starting seeds indoors is the first step in learning to grow your own food. Learning how to start a garden from seed is a very important skill in prepping. Food prices are going through the roof as well as the cost of those cute little plants the nursery is starting for you now and will have on sale in a few months.  Why pay for that when you can do it on your own. It’s not scary. I promise and I will walk you through it step by step.

Starting Seeds Indoors-Step One, Shopping!

what is an heirloom seedFirst thing you need to do is buy your seeds. Tammy made some great suggestions on where to buy seeds in this article.  Preppers prefer heirloom seeds because you can save the seeds from year to year and will get the same plant each year. The ability to save seed is an important survival skill as well as a cost saving measure. With a hybrid if you save the seed, you will get one of the parent plants, not the same seed.
There are lots of cool stories about people immigrating to this country with seeds sown into the hems of their dresses to have their plants from the ‘old country’ here. Heirlooms just have great tradition and are sustainable. So if you are learning to garden for the ability to grow your own food, start stocking up on heirlooms.

This year I choose to order the bulk of my seed from Johnny’s Selected Seeds. They have an artichoke variety I am interested in trying so I decided to place most of my order through them. Since these are new plants for me, I went with the smaller seed packets of most. In some cases the price for 50 seeds was only $1 or $2 less than a packet of 250 or 500. In those cases I went with the 250 so I can add those to my seed preps. Here is what my cart looks like so far.

starting seeds indoors order 2013

OG on seeds stands for Organic, F1 notes a first generation hybrid. While I certainly stock and store heirlooms, I do love to play with hybrids. How cool does that purple bell pepper look?

You don’t have to order from a fancy seed supply company. If this is your first year, then go to Lowes, Home Depot or wherever you can to pick up some packets so you can follow along in this series. Later this week I will post a tutorial on how to germinate your seeds.

Materials you will need for the How To Germinate Your Seeds Tutorial:

Seeds-some good choices for first timers in late February and early March are:

  • celery
  • dill
  • leeks
  • parsnips
  • tomatoes (although we don’t want to start these too early)
  • asparagus (bare root)
  • carrots
  • Cabbage
  • garlic (bulb)
  • lemon balm
  • onion seeds
  • thyme

Late March Starters-

  • Chives
  • Lettuce
  • Sage
  • Turnips
  • Swiss Chard

The above are a good reference for my Zone 5a-5b area. Make sure you know your growing zone before buying your seed!

In addition to seed, you will need:

  • Drip Tray
  • Dome cover or plastic wrap for humidity. You can buy these or use plastic cake covers like what you would get when buying cupakes (ask your bakery or treat the kids)
  • Jiffy Peat Pellets or
  • Root riot starter cubes or
  • soilless, sterile seed starter mix like Fertilome or EKO
  • chopsticks or a sharpened pencil

OK, go gather your supplies and we will plant later this week!

 

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Favorite Garden Seed Sources

If you are anything like me, you’ve already spent time dreaming about garden seeds for 2013’s bountiful harvest. Yes, my favorite garden seed catalogs just might have a few drool stains amongst their already well worn pages. Since playing in the dirt is one of my all time most favorite activities, today I’m going to share with you my favorite garden seed sources.

Heirloom Garden Seed Source - Johnny's Selected Seeds

You want to make sure you purchase from companies that are committed to providing non GMO seed. I do not grow out Monsanto seed….period.

While I believe that open pollinated seeds are the best idea (you can save your seeds from year to year) there is a place for hybrids too. In our area I’ve never had success with an OP pepper. I have to go with a hybrid variety. If I want a tomato before the end August, I need to have a couple early hybrid plants in a different space.

summer squash in a Johnny's Seeds catalogs - Garden Seed Source

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I choose organic seed whenever available, but I do have seed that has been harvested from plants grown organically, but the actual seed that grew the plant wasn’t organic.

The seed sources below will provide you with everything from organic, to heirloom, to rare, to ……well you name it!

Johnny’s Seed (I’ve ordered from Johnny’s for years and and years.)

Fedco

Baker Creek

Vegetable Seed Warehouse

I’ve often picked up packets of Seeds of Change at my health food store. Unfortunately, once Mars bought out Seeds of Change my health food store stopped carrying this brand.

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Heirloom seeds- long term emergency seed storage

While we are on the topic of seeds, do you have you emergency seed stash? Heirloom, organic seeds that have been packaged to last for long periods of time. The seeds on the left are from Emergency Essentials, the package on the right is from Costco!

Another excellent source of seeds for your area are other gardeners! Experienced gardeners are likely to be saving their seed from year to year. Have a seasoned gardener as a mentor can be a great source of instruction AND seeds!

garden seeds from vegetable seed warehouse

Heck, you could just stroll down to your local grocery store and grab a few packets of easy to grow seed (cucumber, summer squash, pumpkins, lettuce, are a few) and start growing your own food! Burpee has a new organic line that you can find in stores.

Once you have your seeds you can read our post on how to start seeds indoors to get a jump start on your garden.

There is simply nothing quite like being able to walk out to your kitchen garden (or you backyard garden pots filled with veggie plants!) and pick your own dinner. Now is the time to start your planning!

Where are YOUR favorite places to score your favorite garden seeds?

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