Farm, Garden and The Land > Gardening and Agriculture

Banking on an Emergency Seed Bank?

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Alan Georges:

--- Quote from: Nicodemus on July 09, 2012, 10:15:04 AM ---Banking on an Emergency Seed Bank?
...
What if this year, my first year attempting a garden, had been at a moment in time where the survival of my family depended on me making use of and successfully growing produce from an Emergency Seed Bank to fill holes or extend the length of time my storage food could last?

The quick answer to that is that an Emergency Seed Bank would probably have helped a little, but probably wouldn't have done much if my only tools were the seed bank, land and hope.

--- End quote ---
Nicodemus, thank you for having the time and guts to actually go out and try this.  Like you, I keep getting those ads.  As a beginning gardener too, I know that I'd have a low success rate with a seed bank, but keep telling myself "Yeah, but it'd be better than nothing, and I'd have more time to spend on the garden if the SHTF.  Or maybe not, what with fending off zombies and all."

Thanks for giving us some hard data on how well it worked out.  Not sure what I'm going to do for the fall garden, let alone next spring, but from my tiny bit of experience these last two years plus your post I can see that a pre-packaged Emergency Seed Bank wouldn't do me much good.

Skunkeye:
Awesome post, Nicodemus!  A worthy 5000th post for sure.  I think your experience is very typical of a first-year newbie gardener, so that post should help a lot of people.

I've always been of the opinion that those seed banks are worse than worthless, because they give uninformed people a false sense of security.  I'd be willing to bet that if you picked an average newbie prepper (the kind of person these are marketed towards) who had little to no gardening experience and no established garden, gave them an acre of decent land in a temperate part of the U.S. and a seed bank, they'd end up harvesting at most a few dozen pounds of food in their first year, and most of it likely wouldn't be top-quality stuff.

A lot of the issues have been covered here,  but a big one (to me) is the seed selection is made by someone else, not you.  So you'll likely have a bunch of seeds for stuff that you don't like, don't know how to prepare, don't know how to store, or can't grow in your climate.  I guess in a SHTF scenario they might have some barter value, but not very much. 

Calichusetts' advice to just jump in and start doing it is absolutely the right answer.  I've had gardens in the past, usually a few plants here and there, but I'm now in my fourth year of what I'd call serious gardening, as in trying to actually grow enough food that it makes a difference in my diet.  This is the first year where I'd say that goal is being met.  It takes several seasons of growing to learn the particulars of your site and climate.  Just something as simple as knowing how much water each plant needs takes quite a bit of trial-and-error, and it will be highly dependent on the day-to-day weather.  You can't get that knowledge without doing it. 

One of the reasons gardening is so rewarding is because it's a complicated process that's dependent on lots of factors that are difficult or even impossible to control.  Getting a good harvest is part skill and part luck.

TexasGirl:
Nic,

I agree wholeheartedly! 

I run into lots of prepper types that buy those seed vaults and store them on a shelf next to the Berkey and Mountain House.  It usually takes a good bit of explanation and illustration before they understand that the seeds are just one small part of the grow-your-own food equation.  All the big hype seed vault commercials don't help either.  They make it sound like just owning their product will fill your tummy magically on it's own!

Thanks for keeping this in the forefront of preparedness.

~TG

Nicodemus:
Thanks for all of the nice replies, folks!

I hate to keep making additions or perhaps hate that I forgot to include something in the original post, as if the it needed to be more longwinded, but another thought came to mind about a potential problem.

Some garden staples don't simply produce just enough to eat within a certain period of time and continue to so on a long timeline so that a person to go out to the garden and just pick what they would need to eat on a daily basis. Some plants produce a flush within a relatively short window of time. Therefore, if the gardener doesn't have the ability to preserve a portion of the harvest when it's optimal, a lot of that food might go to waste. This means the gardener needs even more knowledge and perhaps more equipment.

The knowledge of canning, fermenting and dehydrating along with the equipment to make these options possible would be important in an emergency.

I guess there is some kind of staggered planting options that could be used in some cases, but I haven't read about this very much so I don't know how viable an option it would be.

There are of course some plants from which you can pick edible parts that will stay alive and that you can continually pull nutrition from for a certain period of time, but you've got to make sure that these are in your supply of seeds. 

TwoBluesMama:
Absolutely Nic!  That's why we need to keep encouraging one another (I know I rant about this all the time) to learn to can and dehydrate even experimenting with ways to do this without electricity. Learn to bake bread, how to make yogurt, cottage cheese and other cheeses (from your dried milk supply of course) and the list is endless.

And yes staggering the planting is something we do so that we have anywhere from a week to a couple of weeks between for harvesting.  Or example - just harvested peas a few weeks ago and then planted beans where the peas were.  Yesterday harvested garlic and will be planting something else there in the next few days.  It helps when I have buckets of food to be processed (but secretly I love being overwhelmed!) not to have everything ready at the same time.

You are right there are so many facets that extend from just beyond growing food.

Thanks again for such a great post - hopefully this encourages at least one person to think about what they will do or what they need to learn. Blessings TBM 

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