Climate change, political unrest, habitat loss and a host of other issues have some of us turning to thoughts of survival planning. You don’t have to be a conspiracy theorist or hermit for knowledge about saving and planning an emergency kit. For gardeners, survival seed storage is not only a future food source in cases of dire need but also a good way to perpetuate and continue a favorite heirloom plant. Heirloom emergency survival seeds need to be properly prepared and stored to be of any use down the line. Here are a few tips on how to create a survival seed vault.
What is a Survival Seed Vault?
Survival seed vault storage is about more than creating future crops. Survival seed storage is done by the United States Department of Agriculture and many other national organizations across the world. What is a survival seed vault? It is a way of preserving seed for not only next season’s crops but also for future needs.
Survival seeds are open pollinated, organic and heirloom. An emergency seed vault should avoid hybrid seeds and GMO seeds, which do not produce seed well and can potentially contain harmful toxins and are generally sterile. Sterile plants from these seeds are of little use in a perpetuating survival garden and require constant purchase of seeds from companies that hold the patents on the modified crop.
Of course, collecting safe seed is of little value without carefully managing survival seed storage. Additionally, you should save seed that will produce food you will eat and will grow well in your climate.
The internet is a great way to source safe seed for storage. There are many organic and open pollinated sites as well as seed exchange forums. If you are already an avid gardener, saving seeds starts by letting some of your produce go to flower and seed, or saving fruit and collecting the seed.
Choose only plants that flourish under most conditions and are heirlooms. Your emergency seed vault should have enough seed to start next year’s crop and still have some seed left over. Careful seed rotation will help ensure the freshest seed is saved while those getting older are planted first. In this way, you will always have seed ready if a crop fails or if you wish a second planting in the season. Consistent food is the goal and can be easily achieved if seeds are stored correctly.
Survival Seed Vault Storage
The Svalbard Global Seed Vault has over 740,000 seed samples. This is great news but hardly useful for those of us in North America, as the vault is in Norway. Norway is a perfect place to store the seeds because of its cold climate.
Seeds need to be kept in a dry location, preferably where it is cool. Seeds should be stored where the temperature is 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4 C.) or less. Use moisture proof containers and avoid exposing seed to light.
If you are harvesting your own seed, spread it out to dry before placing it in a container. Some seeds, like tomatoes, need to be soaked for a few days to remove the flesh. This is when a very fine strainer comes in handy. Once you separate seeds from the juice and flesh, dry them in the same manner you do any seed and then place in containers.
Label any plants in your survival seed vault storage and date them. Rotate seeds as they are used to ensure best germination and freshness.