Friday, February 26, 2010

A Note About Survival Seeds

There've been some recent generous giveaways or related promotional offers related to "survival seeds," or seeds to be saved in case of disaster scenarios. It's tiresome to me, though, that our hards times have made seeds a marketing gimmick.  I'm not talking about seed banks that preserve a diversity of seeds for posterity, to insure their continuation.  I'm talking about these all-in-one seed offers packaged up to save for harder times (TEOTWAWKI and so on) sold as survival "kits" for preppers.  It's always good to save things for the unknown, but there are too many unknowns with some of these so-called survival seed offers.

Since I'm an opinionated old battleaxe, here are my fleeting thoughts on some of that.

1.  Folks have to have a working knowledge of how to grow things way before a disaster scenario, or any seeds will be largely experimental, and probably wasted.   Grow things now, and save the seeds.  It takes time to learn what will grow where you are and what your family will eat, and how to save and best utilize the harvests.

2.  Just because you open a package of reliable cabbage seeds, it doesn't mean it's a variety that will grow best in my zone or microclimate.  It also doesn't mean it will be a good performer, be resistant to the adversities specific to my own garden, and that I will have the knowhow to time the planting at the optimum time of year (see #1 above).   IF you grow enough plants long enough, the weak ones go by the wayside and the superstars are the ones whose seeds get saved, and this goes for varieties, too.  And if you save them from your own garden long enough, you're saving them from the plants specifically adapted to your own backyard...and all its particulars, not someone else's.  Your plants will, in a way, become "yours" uniquely suitable for YOUR garden after enough years of saving the best of the best.  It would sure be better to depend on these instead of a random packet of "survival seeds" that has never been tried, eaten, and re-saved by you.

3.  Yes, someone needs to save the heirloom seeds before we monoculture ourselves to death.  But if you've ever noticed, backyard and small farm gardeners are usually so intoxicated by the siren song of those wonderful seed catalog offerings, there's less chance in the home garden that the monoculture will ever rule.  Eveyone I know overbuys, and loves trying lots of new plants and varieties...that's half the fun of the addiction.  :)  I love heirlooms, but I have not grown enough years' worth of particular crops to yet know what will be our most reliable producers for times in which our garden must be our supermarket with no other options available.  Learning how to store those seeds safely, for times in which they might be crucial, is important.  I just don't think there's a real viable use for so-called Survival Seeds, though, unless you put your particular proven favorites in your Bug-Out bag to take with you no matter where you a normal part of your life...during good times or bad.  That's how family favorites made the trip over the pond and ended up here, anyway, with different migrations of peoples.  People survived off their gardens normally, and that WAS survival.

I don't condemn companies who promote so-called survival seeds, but I wonder if these people actually grow things themselves.  That's what I think we all need to be doing.  Or else we'll be rank amateurs and eating some kind of cabbage that doesn't grow well, and wishing we had tinkered with this a lot more ahead of time.

Any seed from a plant loved and proven...and perpetuated... is a "survival seed."



jack-of-all-thumbs said...

I agree completely. From my computer I can see our seed flats with almost 200 seeds just beginning to break the surface (while 3" of snow falls outside). Heaven knows how many heirloom varieties my wife planted, but it's all part of the fun.

stevie said...

I also find it fascinating that the Doomsday seed bank is in Antarctica. It occurred to me that if there ever is a doomsday event (nuclear war, environmental disaster) who is going to get up there to get those seeds?

I was also shocked to see on Food, Inc how a generation of people who know how to make and use seed saver machines are being run out of business by Monsanto. A skill that may come in handy in the future.

Curtis said...

I couldn't have said it better. People tend to think that they can open a package of seeds dump it in the ground and a few weeks later they'll have food. Gardening is a great hobby that can save you money while giving you a better product than what you can buy in stores. Jack Spirko has a saying that I think is fitting here: "Helping you live the life you want, if times get tough or even if they don't".

Anyway, keep up the good work.