Heirloom seeds are a great way to protect yourself against the possible disasters that could happen in life. Whether it is a widespread disaster forcing you and those around you to have start over, or massive crop failures due to disease, it is essential to have a backup plan.
These seeds are collected from the same type of plant, year after year and grow true to the "mother" plant so that the offspring are consistently the same. They have been shared and handed down from family to family and generation to generation for many years – sometimes up to hundreds of years. Neighbors share with neighbors and now people easily share with friends they meet in other countries so that heirlooms from India are grown in Indiana and heirlooms from Paris, France are grown in Paris, Texas.
Heirloom seeds last a long time if properly stored (cool, dry place) and are perfect for survival situations. In addition, heirloom varieties often taste better than hybrid cultivars. One reason is because they are not genetically modified. If you are ever buying heirloom seed – or even trading for it – be careful to ensure that you acquire seed that is non-GMO. It can't be an heirloom seed and be a Genetically Modified Organism at the same time.
Genetically modified seed was designed for the purpose of creating a plant that produces fruits or vegetables in quantity – and with certain traits. This does not always translate into flavor or nutrition. Consider the tomatoes which are harvested while still green and gassed prior to arriving at the grocery store. What are they gassed with? Ethylene – a petroleum product. It is no wonder they don't taste very good. But hey, they are red, right?
Heirloom tomatoes, on the other hand, are juicy and delicious. They may not be as disease-resistant as a hybrid tomato (and all of your tomatoes may not be ready to harvest on the same day), but they will be more nutritious and tastier than anything you can buy at the supermarket.
Heirloom seeds are worth growing and saving.
If you do start growing seeds that you purchase or collect, you have an added benefit of being able to increase your stash of seeds by saving some of what you grow each year. You can also trade with other seed savers and broaden the varieties you grow and save, thus your collection of seeds can increase from year to year. This is a great way to meet and learn from fellow gardeners and like-minded, self-reliant folks, too.
There is nothing wrong with purchasing your seeds, especially if you are just getting started. Here is a picture of some seeds purchased from the Seed Trust in Colorado. It's a quick way to buy a wide variety of seeds that you can simply put on a shelf "just in case". They seem to have a good reputation and everything arrived quickly and just as ordered. The packaging is secure and since it is in a dark can and will be stored in a cool place, these seeds can last for years.
Having heirloom seeds on hand in case of a disaster is a great idea and it doesn't have to cost a lot. There are a lot of seed exchanges online, too. Gardenweb.com is one such place where you can go to meet gardeners who are willing to trade seeds and sometimes even send some out for a self-addressed, stamped envelope.
If you are concerned about the possibility of not having enough foods in your area should you have to forage for what you need, don't be afraid to sow some seeds and tend the plants to get patches started where you can keep an eye on them. Berries, herbs and native plants (that simply aren't in abundance) are all excellent choices.
Here are a few specific ideas that might work depending upon your location:
- Red Clover
- Wood sorrel
- Lemon balm
If a disaster strikes your area, you must have options.
There are a lot of reasons why having heirloom seeds in your disaster survival kit is important. It is up to you, of course, if you want to preserve the past for the future. For all the talk about going off the grid, disaster survival, economic collapse and sustainability, it seems like heirloom seeds is one topic that fits perfectly into the area of preparedness.