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Let's take a few minutes and talking about stockpiling seeds for a doomsday event. for people who are new to stockpiling seeds, I am going to keep this real simple.

Heirloom / open pollinated - Bear true to form. Meaning, if the seeds are saved and planted, the resulting plant will be just like the parent.

Hybrid Seeds - Cross pollinated between two related plants. The seeds can be saved from the cross pollinated plant, but the child may or may not be like the parents. Saved seeds from hybrids may or may not be like the parents, may be sterile... chances are will not bear true to form.

There is a misconception that stockpiling hybrid seeds are bad. Hybrids can sometimes be more drought, pest and disease resistant than their parents. It is perfectly fine to stockpile hybrid seeds, just realize saving the seeds is a gamble.

GMO Seeds - Modified on the genetic level.



Growing Period

I like plants that produce over a period of time, such as:

  • Peppers
  • Okra
  • Tomatoes
  • Spinach
  • Snap Beans
  • Squash
  • Zucchini
  • Cucumbers

Crops such as corn are harvested, then the plant dies.

In a letter my great aunt wrote my grandmother in the late 1940s, my great aunt told my grandmother to get rid of her rabbits and plant some asparagus. The logic being, my my grandfather and dad could hunt rabbits, so there was no need in having them. On the other hand, asparagus would make a good side dish for a meal.

Whole Plant is Edible

How much of the plant is edible? Take corn for example, just a small portion is the plant is edible, while a whole radish is edible.

Would we rather grow a doomsday crop where most of the water, time, effort, fertilizer is thrown away, or a crop where the whole plant is edible?

Examples include:

  • Radishes
  • Turnip greens
  • Rutabaga

My aunt use to boil the whole radish plant, greens and root.

High Fertilizer Requirements

While corn is idolized because it was grown by native Americans and can be used for so much, todays corn is different than yesterdays corn.

While stockpiling seeds for a Doomsday / SHTF event, I would avoid stockpiling too much corn, and crops such as watermelon. Stockpile corn, cantaloupes, watermelons.. etc, but realize they have high fertilizer requirements.

Plant Nutrition

Look for seeds that are packed with nutrients.

Examples include:

  • Squash
  • Zucchini
  • Spinach
  • Beans
  • Peas
  • Asparagus
  • Tomatoes

Beans are a wide range of crops - pinto, contender, roma II, blue lake bush.. etc. They are probably the perfect seeds for a doomsday / SHTF situation.

Canning / Preserving

While squash has been mentioned several times, squash can not be canned.

Canning examples:

  • Beans
  • Peas
  • Corn
  • Peppers
  • Okra
  • Asparagus

Those can all be canned or pickled.

Beans, peas, peppers and corn can be dried.

There are some plants which are best eaten fresh, such as greens, spinach, squash and zucchini.

Storing Doomsday Seeds

When stockpiling seeds for a doomsday / SHTF event, put the seed packets in a freezer grade ziplock bag, get as much of the air out as you can, then store the bag in the freezer.

How long will seeds last? See this thread on Germinating Decade Old Seeds.

I took seeds that had been bought in 2007, germinated them in 2017, and grew a garden with them.

Final Thoughts

Here we are on July of 2018 and the big box stores will be putting the seeds on deep discount.

In 2017 I bought a bunch of seeds from the Dollar Store that had been marked down to 25 cents a packet. The packets were organized by type, or by season, placed in one gallon ziplock bags, then put in the deep freezer.

For example:

Spices, such as peppers and cilantro are in one bag.

Fall crops, such as winter squash, greens and onions are in a bag together.

Tomatoes are all in a single bag.

Various spring / summer crops, such as peas are in a bag.

I think that should be good for now. Please share your thoughts and suggestions.
 

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You say corn is not a good choice of crops to grow but beans are. You can get 3 1/2 times more corn per area than beans. I also think corn is easier to harvest and store than beans.

When it comes to storage I would look at crops that can be stored with no processing at all, then crops that can be dried in large quantity, then crops that can be salt water pickled in bulk(5 gallon buckets), then last would be crops that need to be canned(the ones that would need to be canned would be more valuable for vitamins and flavor rather than calories, tomatoes would be the main crop I would plan to can)

Crops that can be stored for a long time as they are would include grains, beans. But many crops can be stored for 3 months to a years if properly stored. Some of those crops would be: pumpkin, apple, pear, onions, carrots, sweet corn(pick the entire plant just before it is fully ripe and hang it upside down in a cellar) cabbage, garlic, squash and probably many others that I am missing.

Many crops can easily be dried by slicing them thin, soaking them in salt water or lemon to prevent browning then drying. They can be dried in bulk by stringing them on a thread and hanging them to dry this method works best once the weather becomes cold and the house is kept somewhat warm and the air is very dry. The food can be hung up in the same room as the wood stove to dry. The winter is a good time to dry food this way that you have stored in the cellar but don't think you will use before it goes bad. Another way to dry food in the summer is to spread it out on a clean sheet metal roof and spread screen or netting over it to keep bugs and birds away or have someone stand guard to shoe them away.

Many crops can be preserved with a salt water brine and fermentation. It can be done in large quantity such as in a 5 gallon bucket or 55 gallon drum. You can keep the vegetables separated or mix them together. As long as you use quality vegetables and keep the salt % right it is a pretty easy way to preserve a large amount of food with little work, material, or fuel.

The last way I would want to preserve food in an emergency situation would be by canning. It requires consumable items, a lot of fuel, and a lot of time for a relatively small volume of finished product.
 

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Emperor has no clothes
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Let's take a few minutes and talking about stockpiling seeds for a doomsday event. for people who are new to stockpiling seeds, I am going to keep this real simple.

Heirloom / open pollinated - Bear true to form. Meaning, if the seeds are saved and planted, the resulting plant will be just like the parent.

Hybrid Seeds - Cross pollinated between two related plants. The seeds can be saved from the cross pollinated plant, but the child may or may not be like the parents. Saved seeds from hybrids may or may not be like the parents, may be sterile... chances are will not bear true to form.

There is a misconception that stockpiling hybrid seeds are bad. Hybrids can sometimes be more drought, pest and disease resistant than their parents. It is perfectly fine to stockpile hybrid seeds, just realize saving the seeds is a gamble.

GMO Seeds - Modified on the genetic level.


Stockpiling Seeds For Doomsday / SHTF – YouTube
Thanks Kev - always a great conversation to have and one near and dear to me and my effort to provide sustainable, low-maintenance plant-based nutrition for me and my family.

A quick caveat with open-pollinated / heirloom seeds – being that they are pollinated by nature there is always the chance of a bee-cross. The seeds will look as expected because the genetics for the seed coat is determined by the “mother” but there can be unexpected deviations from the parent line in the next generation due to cross-pollination. This may or may not be disadvantageous and there are of course steps to avoid bee-crosses and save true-to-type seeds.

Also – with any seed, be it open-pollinated or hybrid – while it is okay to have some seed stored away, any seed that is in storage is stagnant. It is not experiencing the micro-climate that is your garden, it is not adapting to fluctuating environmental conditions and pest pressures. More importantly YOU are not gaining the critical experience and knowledge for cultivating the crops reasonably successfully – you are not developing strategies for mitigating less than ideal climate conditions and for handling pests or even for understanding and using the integral “rhythms” of your crops for planting, cultivation, harvest, post-harvest processing. IMHO, the best “storage” of seeds is through a continuous cycle of growing, setting aside a small amount for unforeseen circumstance but planting from the previous year's harvest. Yes, I do have seeds in long-term storage but for the most part, they aren't ones that have never been grown by me or in my soil.



Growing Period

I like plants that produce over a period of time, such as:

  • Peppers
  • Okra
  • Tomatoes
  • Spinach
  • Snap Beans
  • Squash
  • Zucchini
  • Cucumbers

Crops such as corn are harvested, then the plant dies.

In a letter my great aunt wrote my grandmother in the late 1940s, my great aunt told my grandmother to get rid of her rabbits and plant some asparagus. The logic being, my my grandfather and dad could hunt rabbits, so there was no need in having them. On the other hand, asparagus would make a good side dish for a meal.

Whole Plant is Edible

How much of the plant is edible? Take corn for example, just a small portion is the plant is edible, while a whole radish is edible.

Would we rather grow a doomsday crop where most of the water, time, effort, fertilizer is thrown away, or a crop where the whole plant is edible?

Examples include:

  • Radishes
  • Turnip greens
  • Rutabaga

My aunt use to boil the whole radish plant, greens and root.

High Fertilizer Requirements

While corn is idolized because it was grown by native Americans and can be used for so much, todays corn is different than yesterdays corn.

While stockpiling seeds for a Doomsday / SHTF event, I would avoid stockpiling too much corn, and crops such as watermelon. Stockpile corn, cantaloupes, watermelons.. etc, but realize they have high fertilizer requirements.

Plant Nutrition

Look for seeds that are packed with nutrients.

Examples include:

  • Squash
  • Zucchini
  • Spinach
  • Beans
  • Peas
  • Asparagus
  • Tomatoes

Beans are a wide range of crops - pinto, contender, roma II, blue lake bush.. etc. They are probably the perfect seeds for a doomsday / SHTF situation.
Kev brings up good points to consider when planning a sustainable garden - a crop's value - to you nutritionally, as fodder for animals, as a positive regenerative component for your garden (green manure / compostable, silage, nitrogen fixation, ...), as well as cultural maintenance requirements and botanical properties are all essential criteria.

My gardens focus on staple and carbon crops that benefit me and my land- grains & pseudocereals, legumes, and squashes. I do grow corn though a flint variety - in addition to the ears of corn, the stalks provide valuable silage, mulch, or regenerative compost. The few varieties of tomatoes and peppers I grow for added nutrition and menu diversity must sun-dry easily. Also worth growing is flax (both for fiber and seeds), sesame, canola and camelina - again for nutritional value and dietary variety. As much as I enjoy eating them, I do not grow melons - they take valuable space and I have yet to master growing them reliably (and I know this now instead of learning it with stored seeds under SHTF conditions.) Instead I grow crops like ground cherries, sunberries, and litchi tomatoes as sweet and nutritious treats.

Radishes and other root crops might be whole crop edible but as they are biennial, it is a challenging process to replenish them through seed, assuming a goal of your garden is to survive on what you can produce. Another challenge for a renewable seed supply are the Brassica oleracea crops, which despite visual differences are genetically the same plant.

When considering beans don't focus on the common bean to the exclusion of the myriad species that are in the bean family – pigeon peas, cowpeas, lentils, chickpeas/garbanzos, lima beans, soybeans, tepary beans, mung beans, adzuki beans, peanuts, bambara, runner beans, tarwi, edible lupine... These are all separate species strengthening the diversity of plant-based proteins of a sustainable garden. They are all low-maintenance crops that grow in USDA Zone 5. Cowpeas are especially worthy of space in your garden as the whole plant is edible.

Similarly, with other crops, peppers and squashes in particular, I make sure to diversify what I grow with varieties from the different species. I am also prepared to save the seed of varieties within the same species so I am not limited.

Additional low-maintenance, high value crops worth considering are the miscellaneous grains and pseudocereals:
  • amaranth - whole-plant edibility; adaptable to poor conditions
  • quinoa – considered complete in its protein
  • sorghum - nutritious grains; a source for syrup; an excellent silage crop
  • millet - nutritious grains
  • teff
These also have the advantage of not necessarily appearing as a food source...

Canning / Preserving

While squash has been mentioned several times, squash can not be canned.

Canning examples:

  • Beans
  • Peas
  • Corn
  • Peppers
  • Okra
  • Asparagus

Those can all be canned or pickled.

Beans, peas, peppers and corn can be dried.

There are some plants which are best eaten fresh, such as greens, spinach, squash and zucchini.
You can Pressure Can Winter Squash & Pumpkins, but my question is why would you? I currently have a dozen assorted winter squashes from last fall's harvest and it is the middle of July! By choosing the right varieties and properly curing winter squash they store in cool, dry conditions for extended periods of time without any energy input whatsoever. Squashes, both summer and winter squashes also make great pickles and summer squashes dehydrate well.

Storing Doomsday Seeds

When stockpiling seeds for a doomsday / SHTF event, put the seed packets in a freezer grade ziplock bag, get as much of the air out as you can, then store the bag in the freezer.

How long will seeds last? See this thread on Germinating Decade Old Seeds.

I took seeds that had been bought in 2007, germinated them in 2017, and grew a garden with them.

Final Thoughts

Here we are on July of 2018 and the big box stores will be putting the seeds on deep discount.

In 2017 I bought a bunch of seeds from the Dollar Store that had been marked down to 25 cents a packet. The packets were organized by type, or by season, placed in one gallon ziplock bags, then put in the deep freezer.

For example:

Spices, such as peppers and cilantro are in one bag.

Fall crops, such as winter squash, greens and onions are in a bag together.

Tomatoes are all in a single bag.

Various spring / summer crops, such as peas are in a bag.

I think that should be good for now. Please share your thoughts and suggestions.
For storing seeds long term, it is essential that they are dry, dry, dry! While meant for a different audience, Seeds of Diversity in conjunction with the Bauta Family Initiative on Canadian Seed Security has an excellent free publication that discusses long-term seed storage and seed viability - well worth the read...

Micro Seed Banking Primer

Also I think it is a good idea to group seeds by when they are started inside or direct seeded – while onions and squash are both fall crops, onions are usually started inside 10-12 weeks before last frost and in some places are even over-wintered. Squash on the other hand doesn't transplant well and isn't usually direct seeded until ground temperatures are above 60 °F, so to me it doesn't make sense to keep these seeds together. I group seeds by when I will plant them.

In addition to storing seeds, I believe it is a good idea to store the relevant knowledge to grow, harvest and use the crops – I have a decent sized collection of books, catalogs, magazines, and pdfs on everything from starting seeds to pressure canning vegetables to lacto-fermentation. I use the mind-set that while I might know something, it might come to me relying on someone who doesn't and we will both then benefit from the library. Similarly, I'm collecting any specialised tools and equipment necessary to grow and benefit from a sustainable garden.

Oops, this is longer than I had intended but these are just some of the thoughts in my mind when I see seeds on clearance... and thanks again to Kev for starting the thread!
 

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Discussion Starter #4
You say corn is not a good choice of crops to grow but beans are. You can get 3 1/2 times more corn per area than beans. I also think corn is easier to harvest and store than beans.
With modern pesticides and fertilizer that may be true. Try growing corn without fertilizer, let me know what happens.

When you remove the modern high nitrogen fertilizer, and pesticides, what does corn production do?

Then there are the nutrients. Corn has few nutrients, while beans are jam packed with them.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
For storing seeds long term, it is essential that they are dry, dry, dry! While meant for a different audience, Seeds of Diversity in conjunction with the Bauta Family Initiative on Canadian Seed Security has an excellent free publication that discusses long-term seed storage and seed viability - well worth the read...
Thank you, interesting read. Some of the talking points are incorrect. Such as some seeds can be stored for thousands of years when frozen.

I have not thought about glass jars. If someone was going to go to that length, why not do mylar bags and oxygen absorbers.

The Svalbard global seed vault, I believe stores their seeds in mylar, and they are expected to be viable for hundreds, maybe even thousands of years.

the test I did in 2017, the seeds had been kept in a plastic ziplock, had been stored for a decade, and had excellent germination rates.
 

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With modern pesticides and fertilizer that may be true. Try growing corn without fertilizer, let me know what happens.

When you remove the modern high nitrogen fertilizer, and pesticides, what does corn production do?

Then there are the nutrients. Corn has few nutrients, while beans are jam packed with them.
For beans to produce as much as they do they also require fertilizer and pesticides. I think it would be fair to assume that if you stopped using chemicals on corn and beans the corn would still out produce the beans by double or more. Also much more can be done with corn than beans, With corn you can make, bread, tortillas, pudding, mush/grits, beer/spirits, corn flakes and malt. Whereas beans can be seasoned in many ways and can be eaten whole or mashed but it still feels like you are eating beans every day when eating them. Beans and corn go together very well, in cooking, in growing(beans fix nitrogen the corn needs to grow and if planted in the same plot the beans can use the corn for a trellis to grow on).

A person should try to plant as many types of staples as possible. It gives a variate of diet, and give you a back up if one of the crops fails due to nature or the farmers inexperience(many famines throughout history were caused or made worse by the group experience the famine relying very heavy on one or two major crops)
 

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Open pollinated is definitely what you want. But as far as hybrids go, a hybrid is simple a cross between two plants. So open pollinated plants can produce a hybrid if they are close to other varieties, as bees or wind can cross pollinate your plants.
Nothing wrong with it. Just be aware of planting too many varieties too close together.
 

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Bread Baker
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I have to agree with Kev on this one. I have also stated on many occasion that corn, is a resource hog. In my opinion, your better to store dried corn, and its products, such as grits. They store for a long darn time.

You said:

Beans and corn go together very well, in cooking, in growing(beans fix nitrogen the corn needs to grow and if planted in the same plot the beans can use the corn for a trellis to grow on).
So, have you grown the 3 sisters? Or in this case, the 2 sisters? Have you actually done this in practice?

I have some bad news for you. Legumes only put nitrogen in the soil when you till them under, BEFORE planting. If you allow Legumes to flower and produce their fruit, they suck all the nitrogen right back out. Well maybe not every bit of it, but enough. There isnt enough nitrogen left to feed a crop like corn. Lettuce yes... corn, hell no.

The natives also tossed fish in the hole, and god knows what else. Evidence points to composting in place, no till methods. And last but not least, Humanure.

And let us not forget, Indian Corn was far different then modern corn.

Just my 2 cents.
 

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For beans to produce as much as they do they also require fertilizer and pesticides. I think it would be fair to assume that if you stopped using chemicals on corn and beans the corn would still out produce the beans by double or more. Also much more can be done with corn than beans, With corn you can make, bread, tortillas, pudding, mush/grits, beer/spirits, corn flakes and malt. Whereas beans can be seasoned in many ways and can be eaten whole or mashed but it still feels like you are eating beans every day when eating them. Beans and corn go together very well, in cooking, in growing(beans fix nitrogen the corn needs to grow and if planted in the same plot the beans can use the corn for a trellis to grow on).
I have never used pesticides on my beans.

I understand your point, I just disagree. My opinion, corn is best for livestock feed.

For humans, the amount of time and effort put into growing corn is not worth the return. It provides very little nutrition and the main selling point is it can be used to fatten up livestock.

I have grown corn, but it is not even in my top 10. I would rather grow okra than corn.

The video shows I have various packages of corn seed, same with watermelon. Does not mean I grown them all the time.

Now if I had to, yes, I would grow corn.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
So, have you grown the 3 sisters? Or in this case, the 2 sisters? Have you actually done this in practice?

I have some bad news for you. Legumes only put nitrogen in the soil when you till them under, BEFORE planting. If you allow Legumes to flower and produce their fruit, they suck all the nitrogen right back out. Well maybe not every bit of it, but enough. There isnt enough nitrogen left to feed a crop like corn. Lettuce yes... corn, hell no.

The natives also tossed fish in the hole, and god knows what else. Evidence points to composting in place, no till methods. And last but not least, Humanure.

And let us not forget, Indian Corn was far different then modern corn.

Just my 2 cents.
Exactly right.

I have grown corn and beans together, could not tell the difference in corn production.

On top of that, corn and beans / peas have different fertilizer requirements. Corn needs a high nitrogen fertilizer, while beans / peas do not. Beans and peas need more potash than anything else.

I think for my late summer garden I am going to plant a row of beans and peas without fertilizer, next to some corn and make a video about what happens.

I already know what is going to happen. The corn will not produce, while the beans and peas will. They may not produce much, but they will produce.
 

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I would like to hear more about peanuts and sweet potatoes that I believe to grow well in my region of northwest florida. I know in nearby Jay, FL there is an annual peanut festival. I would like to grow some fresh sweet white corn because I happen to like it. My septic tank should be capable providing any nitrogen it might need for shtf when commercial fertilizers are not available.
All types of corn seed seem to be available these days including all sorts of heirloom indian corn. So why not store some of these.
 

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Emperor has no clothes
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I would like to hear more about peanuts and sweet potatoes that I believe to grow well in my region of northwest florida. I know in nearby Jay, FL there is an annual peanut festival. I would like to grow some fresh sweet white corn because I happen to like it. My septic tank should be capable providing any nitrogen it might need for shtf when commercial fertilizers are not available.
All types of corn seed seem to be available these days including all sorts of heirloom indian corn. So why not store some of these.
In your area peanuts should do well - I'd look into what's available from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange - some of their varieties do well even in zone 5 and they have a good starter growing guide.
 

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gard'ner
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Kev, were you able to grow anything in the chicken manure experiment?

Personally, I'm of the opinion that anything stockpiled that we don't grow now... Probably a waste of effort. If we don't figure out how to grow it now when we have plenty of time for experimenting, seems unlikely that we'll accomplish anything on soil that hasn't been improved for farming, trying to grow crops that we have no experience with.

Personally, I'm growing an excellent crop of Cherokee tears climbing beans this year... But it's the first year in 20+ that we have a growing season!

Growing good corn too... Again... First year that we got gardening weather.
Usually very hot and dry here... And... Good practice for doomsday event when we can plan on the weather being uncooperative...

In the hot and dry that we usually have, that the rest of the country is getting a little taste of this month... Maybe plant sorghum and chenopodium... Easier to grow for seed than corn.
 

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Kev, were you able to grow anything in the chicken manure experiment?

Personally, I'm of the opinion that anything stockpiled that we don't grow now... Probably a waste of effort. If we don't figure out how to grow it now when we have plenty of time for experimenting, seems unlikely that we'll accomplish anything on soil that hasn't been improved for farming, trying to grow crops that we have no experience with.
Overall, I think the garden is doing well. Peppers are producing like crazy, tomatoes grew so tall their cages fell over.

Fall beans will be planted around the first week of September.

However, the garden used a mix of 13-13-13 and manure. It started with manure then I added 13-13-13.

I may do an experiment on the fall garden with manure / no manure with the beans and peas.

EDIT

Beans were doing great with just manure, but the deer and rabbits the bean plants.
 

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off-grid organic farmer
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Gardening is a noble past-time.

During periods of food shortage households that survive need to produce their own food.

But, I am firmly against 'seedbanks'.

It takes years of practice to push through the learning curve of producing your own food.

You can have as many seeds as you can carry if store bought food vanished tomorrow, and the next day you began planting those seeds. I guarantee that you will starve.

Having a seedbank gives a person a false sense of security.
 

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Swirl Herder
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Gardening is a noble past-time.

During periods of food shortage households that survive need to produce their own food.

But, I am firmly against 'seedbanks'.

It takes years of practice to push through the learning curve of producing your own food.

You can have as many seeds as you can carry if store bought food vanished tomorrow, and the next day you began planting those seeds. I guarantee that you will starve.

Having a seedbank gives a person a false sense of security.
Sounds like single dimensional thinking.....

What if someone had several years of stored food and a seedbank?

What if someone grew some smaller scale trial gardens/crops to see what grew well in their area/climate and to learn about growing food?

You have posted here several times that people only need to store one years worth of food to get them to the next harvest.

Many things can go wrong with active gardens/crops in normal times. If the SHTF, many more calamities could befall actively growing crops and/or livestock.

I view that your one years worth of stored food is giving you a false sense of security.
 

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I have control issues
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Gardening is a noble past-time.

During periods of food shortage households that survive need to produce their own food.

But, I am firmly against 'seedbanks'.

It takes years of practice to push through the learning curve of producing your own food.

You can have as many seeds as you can carry if store bought food vanished tomorrow, and the next day you began planting those seeds. I guarantee that you will starve.

Having a seedbank gives a person a false sense of security.
I completely agree! My seed "stockpile" is what I use for the continuation of my garden. I sometimes buy seed to try a new variety, but a lot of my seed is what I've saved from the plants I grow. I always let a few "go to seed" just so that I can harvest the seed for future planting. I figure that the resulting plants will be better adapted to my area than purchased seed grown in completely different climates.
 

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off-grid organic farmer
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Sounds like single dimensional thinking.....

What if someone had several years of stored food and a seedbank?

What if someone grew some smaller scale trial gardens/crops to see what grew well in their area/climate and to learn about growing food?

You have posted here several times that people only need to store one years worth of food to get them to the next harvest.

Many things can go wrong with active gardens/crops in normal times. If the SHTF, many more calamities could befall actively growing crops and/or livestock.

I view that your one years worth of stored food is giving you a false sense of security.
If you grow your food, and you have a year worth of home-grown food stored, that should be plenty. Because you are always growing more food.

To have a box of seed packets on 'that day', and suddenly have to start as a first-time gardener. You are likely to fail.

Obviously if you are already producing food, none of this applies.
 
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