How to Create your own Seed Bank

How to Create your own Seed Bank
I've got a green thumb, and I'm happy to admit it. There's nothing I like more than spending a Saturday afternoon working in my garden, and then enjoying the fresh produce I've harvested with my family over dinner that night. Give me fresh greens over a microwave dinner every day. But one thing I noticed over the years, was the unreliability of the seed industry. One year a particular crop would taste a little different, or I'd be browsing the options and I'd see "CROP UNAVAILABLE" plastered all over my favorite (albeit niche) varieties of veggies. Interested to find out a little more, I started looking into it. What I found was rather alarming. There are six companies, in the entire world, that control 98 percent of all the seeds on sale. That's rather alarming, but it's not even the worst part. Most of these companies are, kind of bad, for the environment, and also have ties into some pretty-large chemical manufacturing companies. Not good. But here's the kicker. Because they want to make money, and they want you coming back year after year and buying new seeds for your crops, they created a special type of seed known as a hybrid. They're good for a single season only, and if you get reliant on these seeds, you're never going to have a sustainable garden. Scary right? This was the knowledge that led to the creation of my very own seed bank. I wanted to know that the produce I was growing for my family would actually be a sustainable food source, without having to drop hundreds of dollars a year into big corp's pocket for new seeds. Plus, I wanted to ramp up my survival planning as my cache is only going to last so long, without harvesting new crops you're eventually going to starve. Luckily, creating your own seed bank isn't all that difficult. Are you ready to get into it?

Your first batch of seeds

When you start doing your research you'll discover an entire underground movement that's fighting back against GMO crops with what's known as heirloom seeds. In short, heirloom simply means seeds that will grow true generation after generation. These are the seeds you want to be storing. You can find heirloom seeds all over, once you know where to look. I started quite bootstrapped, harvesting a handful of seeds here and there from edible plans I came across when I was hiking. Oh and the farmers market was another goldmine, as most local farmers are proud of their heirloom crops, and you can buy produce like peppers and tomatoes and then simply collect and store the seeds. The downside of this technique is it takes time. I found out later there was a local seed club I could have joined, and for a small fee I'd get access to a much wider range of heirloom seeds, including those that you need to collect when the plant is flowering. Speak to your local nursery about this and they'll point you in the right direction, or jump on Google and search for seed clubs in your area. There's quite a few around.

Harvesting your own seeds

For me, this is the fun part, and there's a weird satisfaction I get from collecting seeds from the fruits and vegetables my family eats. With a little work, water and time, you can turn these tiny seeds into even more food, that tastes a million times better than what you'd buy in the supermarket. First though, you need to identify what type of seeds the plan produces. If you're wanting to add a plant that has "dry" seeds to your collection, you're going to need to wait for the flowers on the plant to blossom and then begin to dry out, before collecting the seeds from the husk. Vegetables like carrots and corn are the kinds of plants you'll need to use this technique for, I simply take a firm sheet of board and bang the flowers against it, and the seeds drop out. If you're wanting to collect "wet" seeds, like those you find in tomatoes, pumpkin and peppers, the process is a little different. Start by cutting the seeds out, then soaking them in water overnight to remove any pulp. Give the seeds a good rinse, and then you've got to dry them out. I normally let mine air dry for a day or two (not in direct sunlight), before going on to the next step. Once they're mostly dry, I drop the seeds into small paper bags. On each I write down a few details to describe the crop, harvest date and type of seeds it contains. My preference is paper bags because they let the air flow freely and helps with the next stage of the drying process. For this, we need to use desiccant. You can find this at craft stores and pharmacies, which are simply small packs of silica pellets that draw moisture from the air. Take the paper bags of seeds and place them in an airtight glass container with the desiccant for about 10 days. This draws out any remaining moisture that will cause mildew, without killing the seeds. After the 10 days your seeds are ready to go into long-term storage. Here I simply put the paper bags with the seeds into large mason jars, so they can be sealed tightly against any moisture. I started with a single mason jar that I kept in the fridge, but over time and a few successful harvests it wasn't enough space. Now I've got a chest freezer with eleven mason jars full of heirloom seeds, not a ton that's for sure, but with every harvest I'm adding more to my collection. Our family isn't going to go hungry when the SHTF, and we've got the means to continue growing produce no matter what the big corporations do. My advice to you, is to do the same, and not risk the long-term well being on your family on the actions of anyone else.

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