TIP: Stocking up on seeds for SHTF only works if you're actively growing and rotating seeds!
Please don't fall for the "lasts indefinitely" claim from most survival seed companies. Seeds most definitely have a shelf life (even in mylar bags). No one grows a perfect garden every year so if you're planning on growing, PRACTICE is essential.
There are many reason to be prepared and not all of them are a complete collapse of our system. Sickness, loss of a job or a reduction in wages are just a few very personal reasons to prepare for the unexpected.
Being prepared doesn't necessarily need to be for TEOTWAWKI (the end of the world as we know it).
Natural Disasters, as we've seen in recent months, are another VERY important reasons to be prepared. Due to our aging infrastructure and roadways, emergencies can stall the delivery of goods, leaving a community without food for a given period of time. While the recent hurricanes and wildfires have wiped out many people's gardens, their gardening experience cannot be taken away.
-Find out what grows best in your area and when to plant for your region.
-Timing is everything! If you're in a very HOT climate, usually summer is not the time to plant. If you're in a cool or cold climate, it is best to plant indoors to get a jump on planting season and/or provide a greenhouse to extend your growing season.
-Learn to Save Seeds! FIRST and most important: Seed Saving from your own harvest is preferred. Store bought produce can be GMO or even hybrid. Even organic store bought can be hybrid. Hybrid seeds can be sterile and will not produce true offspring from saved seeds. Open-pollinated, heirloom seeds will grow seeds that can be saved and re-planted year after year. Read Seed Saving Part 1
Don't Wait until it's Too Late
As we mentioned above,
"No one grows a perfect garden every year so if you're planning on growing, PRACTICE is essential."
Learn to grow the foods that you eat regularly. Canning and preserving those foods would be the next step in being more self-reliant. You'll find that growing food takes a bit of patience and knowledge of soil, sun and water. If you have clay soil you mid need to amend with compost. If you have rocky soil you may need to grow in raised beds. These are things you'll learn as you grow.
We offer 3 new videos about using Compost and Manure to amend your soil and these resources are FREE!
Beans - Easy to grow and preserve. Beans are very high in fiber, calcium, Vitamins A, C, and K
Spinach -Cold hardy and prolific. Many call this a superfood based upon its large array of vitamins such as Vitamin A, C, iron, thiamine, thiamine, and folic acid. Potassium
Carrots - Another hardy crop that requires very little space. This root crop is a good source of carbohydrates, vitamin A, vitamin C
Squash - Both squash and pumpkin are prolific producers.Both store well, especially winter squash. Seeds can be saved and/or roasted and consumed. Squash has lots of carbohydrates and a great nutrient list, including Vitamins A and C, as well as magnesium and potassium.
Beets - Easy to grow and multi-functional.Both roots and greens are edible making beets a dual purpose crop.
Tomatoes - If you can keep your pest issues to a minimum, tomatoes can produce an abundance of food from a relatively small space. Tomatoes are a good source of Vitamin A, C, K, E, Potassium, thiamine, and Niacin
Broccoli - Another cool weather crop. Broccoli is a good source of protein, Vitamins A and K, and carbohydrates
Peppers - From a medicinal view, peppers such as cayenne are essential for natural remedies. Peppers are high in vitamin A and C
Eggplant - Not something most people would think to grow but still an important one.Eggplant is relatively easy to grow and can grow for 3 or more years.Bonus, it's pretty easy to save seeds from Eggplant
Asparagus - An essential perennial. Depending on your region, established Asparagus plants can continue to produce for 30 years (some report for longer)
Amaranth - Another dual purpose plant. Amaranth is naturally drought tolerant. Seeds from the amaranth can be used as a grain (cook just as you would quinoa). Leaves can be picked while young and tender and eaten raw or sauteed as you would spinach.
Radish - If you need a FAST maturing crop, radish is one of the best. From seed to harvest, radish is mature in as few as 25 days. Seeds are easy to save from crops and just as easy to stockpile.
Corn - I know I mention grain below but Corn deserves a specific mention. While corn might not be the easiest crop to grow, it has many uses. Most people automatically think of Sweet Corn. However, Dent Corn & Field Corn are important. Both can be dried and fed to livestock. It can also be dried and ground into cornmeal.
Grains - If you have livestock on your homestead, grains can help feed them. Grains are a good source of carbohydrates, are high in dietary fiber and manganese
HERBS: Natural pest control can be obtained thru companion planting with herbs. If you're planning on making your own herbal remedies, medicinal herbs are a must.
Potatoes - *Keep in mind, seed potatoes do not keep.* You must continually replentish your stock from your own crops (or Mary's Heirloom Seeds as long as we have internet). Potatoes are a staple diet of many of the world’s peoples, especially those in the west. The contain potassium, copper and B6 and are really good to ‘fill you up’ at mealtime. They are also usually pretty easy to grow, although some varieties are very disease prone.
I hope you have enjoyed another educational article. if you have additional questions, please leave a comment below or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Saving seeds from your garden bounty is like putting money away for a rainy day. Best of all, saving your own seeds is one of many ways to regain control of your family’s source of food.
FIRST and most important: Seed Saving from your own harvest is preferred. Store bought produce can be GMO or even hybrid. Even organic store bought can be hybrid. Hybrid seeds can be sterile and will not produce true offspring from saved seeds. Open-pollinated, heirloom seeds will grow seeds that can be saved and re-planted year after year.
SECOND: Cross pollination is always a possibility if you grow multiple varieties of the same crop. Tomatoes for example. You can avoid cross-pollination by creating barriers of plants and distance or planting only 1 variety to save seeds from each season.
Regardless of plant type, one rule is universal: The seed must ripen on the plant in order to ensure best rate of germination. This means your peppers must turn red, orange or yellow (whichever color when fully ripe), your eggplants and cucumbers need to turn yellow, your beans and peas must be “rattle dry” in their pods, and your corn must be left on the stalks until the husks turn paper-brown. Pumpkins, watermelons and melons must be vine-ripe; keep them a few weeks longer in a dry place until they are almost rotten.
PICTURED is a very over-ripe Cocozelle Zucchini. You'll see that the skin started to yellow (and harden). Once you have saved seed, clean it and allow it to dry thoroughly. Seed that is not absolutely dry when stored will develop mold, which will kill it.
Dry seed should be put away in airtight containers in a dark, cool place until needed—always date the container. Some seeds will keep for many years Below is our VIDEO about pollination and cross-pollination
From our first post Ancient Seeds, The definition of an heirloom is a seed variety that is more than 50 years old. Some prefer a variety that is over 100 years old. An heirloom seeds is NOT a GMO and is NOT a hybrid. At Mary's Heirloom Seeds, we offer a few varieties than can be traced back as far as the 1700s! It's true!
From Slow Food USA, The Miccosukee name for this product is “chassa howitska” meaning “hanging pumpkin”. The reference is to the method by which the pumpkin grows, as the Seminole and the Miccosukee people would plant the pumpkin seeds at the base of girdled trees, so that the pumpkin vines would grow up the trunk, and the pumpkin fruit would grow to be hanging from the bare limbs. It was under cultivation by Seminole people before Spaniards arrived in Florida in the 1500s. Immigrants to Florida also adopted this cultivation method, producing hundreds of pumpkins per acre.
This is the bean that is said to have come to America with the Pilgrims in 1620. This old cutshort green bean has great flavor and the red/white beans are quite tasty. A long-time staple in the Carolinas. It is also known as "Amish Knuttle" bean.
Originally from Virginia and traced back to 1845 (most likely grown and traded by Native Americans long before this). Stalks grow 10-12 ft. tall producing 2 to 6 ears per stalk. Kernels are blood-red with darker red stripes, and occasional white or blue kernels. Great for flour, cereal, or roasting ears.
The Anasazi were Indians who lived in the four corners area (now Colorado, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico) dating back to 130 A.D.
Anasazi Beans were one of the few crops cultivated by the Anasazi. They were found in the ruins by settlers to the four corners area in the early 1900's Here is a priceless heirloom that's one of the varieties that kicked off the heirloom movement. Its dramatic appearance of white heavily mottled in maroon is similar to that of Jacob's Cattle bean, but its history is entirely distinct, having been cultivated in the Four Corners region of the Southwest United States. The mealy texture makes it great for baked beans and casseroles, but it's equally good in soups and stews.
an heirloom variety also known as Bohemian squash and Sweet Potato squash. - See more at: http://www.specialtyproduce.com/produce/Delicata_Squash_626.php#sthash.8eFv1gcU.dpuf
An heirloom variety also known as Bohemian Squash and Sweet Potato Squash, Introduced in 1890s. Delicious, creamy sweet potato like taste. Delicata has a fine grained, light orange flesh steamed or baked.
Delicata has a very tough skin which makes if perfect for baking on coals, on the grill or to just simmer in its on juices while in the oven. This tough skin also serves as the perfect wrapper protecting it for up to 6 months in storage!
A beautiful blend of brightly colored long ears, wonderful for fall decorations, and is great for popping. This beautiful corn was selected by Carl Barnes, a world-renowned Cherokee corn collector from Oklahoma. Carl has helped save many of the Cherokee corns that came west over the Trail of Tears. Small kernelled variety makes surprisingly large pops, yielding for a low hull/ corn ratio. Great flavor. Highly ornamental, 5-7 in. ears have many shiny colors including red, blue, orange, white, and yellow. 6-8 ft. plants. From Mother Earth News, "Popcorn is thought to have developed in Mexico many thousands of years ago and then spread through the rest of North America and into South America. Some Native American groups may have been growing it earlier than other types of corn because of its many culinary applications. The Cherokee Nation probably acquired the popcorn through trade contacts with some other group, but they tinkered with it and made the variety what it is today. It’s different from most popcorns in that the kernels come in a rainbow of shades: yellow, white, purple, pink, blue, rose, red, black, olive, orange and more, which is why this corn is so popular as a decoration. A certain number of cobs will be almost uniform in color with dark reds or blacks predominating. These kernels can be set aside and grown by themselves, so that eventually you can have your own designer colors of popcorn."
This heirloom was brought from Tennessee by the Cherokee people as they were marched to Oklahoma by the Federal Government in 1839 over the infamous "Trail of Tears" that left so many dead and suffering. This prolific variety is good as a snap or dry bean and has shiny, black beans. Hardy, vining plants.
From Vegetables of Interest, "One such story is that of a black bean grown by the Cherokee in the Carolinas which had no name other than "bean." It was carried by the Cherokee along their journey as a source of food and a token of hope. Once in Okalahoma it was re-named the "Trail of Tears Bean" and has been maintained by the Cherokee since that time."
At Mary's Heirloom Seeds we also offer a very unique selection of both Medicinal and Culinary herbs, some that have been used for centuries. From our website:
All of the seeds listed are open-pollinated, non-gmo and non-hybrid, heirloom garden seeds. Mary has signed the Safe Seed pledge. Most seed orders placed Monday-Thursday are shipped within 48 hours, (except for holidays) If you have additional questions, please feel free to ask!
We've had quite a few request about what to do with left over seeds. At Mary's Heirloom Seeds, a packet of Snowball Self-Blanching Cauliflower contains 200 heirloom seeds. If you don't plant all 200, You can share them with your friends and family or you can store them for next season/year.
For the best germination rates, try to use all stored flower and vegetable seeds the next growing season. Seed health and viability goes down the longer the seeds are stored. How long can seeds be stored?
From ehow, "Seed health and viability goes down the longer the seeds are stored. If you must store seeds longer, keep in mind that most types of seeds last approximately 3 to 5 years for optimal germination. For flowers, annuals typically last anywhere from one to five years, while perennial seeds can get stored for two to four years. Regardless of the type of seed, the sooner it gets planted, the better.
If you plan to save your own seeds they should be from produce that is very ripe but not rotten. Remember, cross-pollination is always a possibility when/if you plant in close proximity.
Seed saving is easy for varieties that "bolt" (flower and go to seed) such as Basil, Dill and Cilantro. Allow the seeds to fully dry and store accordingly.
Storage Options If you save seeds from your own produce, seeds should be completely cleaned and dry before storing.
Paper is the best storage option for seeds. Packets should be labelled with date of storage and variety of seed.
If you are storing purchased seeds they have already been cleaned. If possible, store seeds in their original packaging to avoid mixing up seed varieties.
Excessive heat, light and moisture can damage seeds and make them less viable. Some people store their seeds in the refrigerator and that's just fine. I prefer a cabinet or closet (not in the garage, around the oven or above the refrigerator. Store seed packets in a glass jar and keep in a cool, dry, dark place.
The purple jars are a bit darker than the regular jars and they're super easy to label. Check em out at Mary's Heirloom Seeds, Heritage Collection Seed Saver Jars! We've added a few new, medicinal varieties this past month. Have you seen em?