For years I’m trying to find the perfect survival seed bank which I would add to my emergency essential kit. During my quest I’ve looked at many typical seed banks, bought quite a few of them, and choose three which I added to my survival kit. This blog post is some kind of summary of my observations and analysis, with some recommendations about what seeds the ideal survival seed bank should contain, and how it should be packaged.
Main idea behind emergency seed bank (also known as survival seed banks, or survival seed kits) is to use a water and air tight container, fill it up with a bunch of different vegetable and fruit seeds, seal the container and put it on a shelf or other storage place for long term storage. So you could use those seeds to grow a survival garden if, for any reason, the grocery from our stores become unavailable or hard to get.
While I don’t mind this approach, I think far better idea is to use survival seeds to grow a small garden RIGHT NOW, as part of your current lifestyle, collect the seeds from your garden, and then store them back in your survival seed bank. This way, in case the food from grocery store really become scare, you will already posses the knowledge about gardening, you will have the gardening tools, the soil will be prepared for planting, and you’ll easily expand your survival garden to suite your needs.
Comparing All Seed Banks – Most Important Features To Look For:
When I analyze seed banks, to make my comparison, I always order one seed bank from that seed company or manufacturer. Few years ago I would start my analysis by buying the smallest one available, but frequently the number of seeds and varieties in those “beginners” seed banks weren’t the same as in bigger ones, so lately I decided to always purchase top product from every seed company to make my survival seeds reviews.
1. Survival Seed Banks Long Term Storage Capabilities
I noticed that some seed bank manufacturers over-hype the possibility of long term storage of their seed bank, making claims about 20-or-more years storage life, due to special packaging materials and seed preparation techniques they use. From my experience, factors that influence seed longevity the most are drying the seeds before storing them, making sure not to expose them to high temperatures or light, and keeping them away from pests, bugs or other animals. Really is important to store only dry seeds and keep them away from moisture, so sometime I put a desiccant in the jar with my seeds. I keep all my seeds in dark and relatively cold place, and still test germination once a year (by using those seeds to start my garden every year!). Really can’t say with certainty that storing seed in mylar bags had any influence on my seeds, compared to one I stored in plain glass jars. Most seeds seem to store well, and those which don’t, seem to degrade after few years even when frozen in a freezer (although, frozen seeds can last about 16 time longer than seeds you store ant room temperatures!).
2. The Quantity of Seeds
All seed bank that are roughly the size of a soda bottle contain somewhere from 20 to about 40 seed backs, which is from my experience enough to plant maybe quarter of a acre of garden space. So, claims made by some seed company that their survival seed bank which is the size of a small container contains enough seeds to plant a hole acre of land seems really unrealistic! To plant that much land, you would need at least few gallons of seeds!
To plant my half-acre survival garden which my wife and I plant every year, we use about 8-10 POUNDS of seeds! So, realistically, 20 or 30 small packets of seeds just won’t cut it. To put things in perspective, for half acre garden you would need some 10 ounces of sweet corn, 3 pounds of mixed beans, 10 ounces of peas, 2 ounces of squash seeds, 3 ounces of beet, and so on..
3. Survival Seeds Types and Varieties Offered
Besides the quantity of seeds in most survival seed bank, another thing that disappoints me is the types or varieties of seeds being offered. One of the seed bank I bought for my review offers some 20,000 celery seeds and 30,000 lettuce seeds (in three varieties), but as little as 100 seeds from beans, peas and corn! Beans, peas, corn..those are you staple vegetables – vegetables that store well and can feed your family, offering high nutrient value and calories. By skimping on those varieties and filling the seed bank with watery low nutrition vegetables like radish, lettuce and celery, this manufacturer increased the total number of seeds, but you would have very little value from those seeds. In survival situations, vegetables like Brussels sprouts, radish, lettuce, celery, basil and other spices don’t count as real food! If the seed count was reversed, and they offer couple of thousands of seeds from vegetables like corn, peas, beans, turnips, cabbage, beets, carrots and potatoes, that would be a totally different story!
Many survival seed bank offer just one variety of most important staple vegetables, like beans and cabbage. Instead of having a thousand seeds from just this one variety, it would be better if they offered more varieties of each species. That’s why I recommend seed banks that offer more varieties of each species, some offer two or three varieties of most important vegetables, some even more. You can never be sure how exactly will some particular variety perform in any specific garden, so it’s better to have a choice! Every garden is different, not only because of climate, but because of very localized factors, like soil type, sun exposure, water, and so on. Every year when we start our garden, for every vegetable we decide to grow, I choose at least three different species so I can monitor their growth and performance. Next year, I plant the best performing variety from last year, and two new ones, to see which will perform better.
Also, the choice of certain varieties in some of the seed vaults also isn’t the best choice, in my opinion. For example, many seed banks include Beefsteak, Roma and Brandywine tomatoes. These tomato varieties are known to request almost perfect growing conditions and a long growing season, which isn’t always an options for everybody. Smaller tomato varieties, which give more fruits and grow more quickly are better choice for survival garden. Cherry tomatoes are example of tomatoes that would be a great additions to most seed banks, since cherry tomatoes grow quickly, are productive and don’t need perfect growing conditions (you can grow cherry tomatoes even on balconies!). In midst of food emergency, you don’t want to grow varieties that take long time to grow, or are susceptible to blossom end rot, like Roma tomatoes.
4. Locally Adapted Seed Banks
Some of the seed varieties offered aren’t adapted for regional differences and distinct growing conditions. You have to be very careful when choosing a emergency seed bank to check if vegetables included in that seed bank grow well in your climate zone.
As far as I can tell, only two seed companies have regionally adapted seeds, claiming that they put different varieties of seeds into their seed bank based on the region the buyer is from. That’s probably the best option, since it is challenging to make a seed mix which would grow well in all growing conditions.
All manufacturers really should offer more options, at least a dozen of survival seed banks adapted for every climate region we have in US. There are 12 eco regions in US, so 12 slightly different seed banks offered by one seed company is something I would like to see, but couldn’t find for now.
Over the course of few years, I bought and reviewed 9 seed banks, out of 10 I found so far on the market (I plan to purchase and review the remaining one this year!). Overall, out of nine reviewed seed banks, 4 were huge disappointment and I would NOT recommend those survival seed banks to anyone.
Out of remaining five, two are good choice if you plant to buy a survival seed bank and use the seeds for planting a garden, but are not the best choice for long term storage (if you plan to put the seed bank in freezer, or some other place and just forget about it).
Only three survival seed vaults meat most of the criteria: quantity of seeds, variety of seeds, local adaptability of seeds, and long term storage capabilities (packaging which is sturdy enough to endure rough conditions, and can be resealed once it is opened). These three emergency seed banks I reviewed in detail, so here I’m just going to post key features of each one.
Which Survival Seed Banks Are The Best?
COMPARE SEED BANKS – Read complete reviews of all the survival seed bank and view comparison chart here:
Survival Seed Bank
Quantity: 30,000 seeds
Variety: 22 varieties of Open Pollinated Heirloom Seeds
Packaging: practically indestructible waterproof container made from plastic material
Probably the best known survival seed bank on the market. Read the review and find out if it deserves that status..
I wrote a detail review of Survival Seed Bank, you can read it here: Survival Seed Bank Complete Review
Emergency Seed Bank
Quantity: 37.000+ seeds
Variety: 33 varieties of Open Pollinated Heirloom Seeds, sealed in an airtight military grade Seed Vault.
Packaging: water-resistant Military Grade Ammo Box (container)
When it comes to quality of seeds and price-to-quality ratio, Emergency Seed Banks are right up there with the very best on the market!
I wrote a detail review of Emergency Seed Bank, you can read it here: Emergency Seed Bank Complete Review
Heirloom Organics Seed Vault
Variety:30 varieties of non hybrid vegetable seeds
Packaging: sturdy plastic container, can be resealed
Heirloom Organics Non-Hybrid Seed Packs are sustainable choice for home, homestead and professional gardeners, offering most seeds you can get for your money.
I wrote a detail review of Survival Seed Vault, you can read it here: Heirloom Organics Seed Vault Complete Review