Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Survival Seeds...A Review

A reader sent me the following email:

My husband recently learned about a website advertising a "Survival Seed Bank". I wondered what you would think of it. From what I've read (with your posts being prominent in my reading on this topic), it seems unnecessary to have this specialized of a container for seeds, even to preserve their fertility long-term. The price offered for this many seeds seems shockingly high & the text suggests that heirloom seeds are hard to find. I certainly think that big ag companies are buying up & controlling as many seeds as possible, but I still think there are quite a number of sources for quality seeds today. What is your take on this product?
This reader included a link with her email, which I have deleted for obvious reasons. I visited this site and boy was I amazed! Although I agreed with a few things they said, for the most part I felt like there was some fear-mongering, exaggeration and even some mis-leading going on. So, here's my thoughts.

Hard times are coming...in fact for most they are already here. I believe, with this Administration, things will get worse. I believe you should begin to grow at least some of your own food - it saves a lot of money and right now we can all use that since Congress is spending it faster than we can make it. I think at the very least you should purchase some seeds and put them in your freezer for the future. But I will say this, when you are in the middle of difficult times, it is not the time to learn a new skill that your family might depend upon for food. Get some experience now, even if it is on a small scale.

I agree that you need to purchase heirloom seeds. Heirloom plants tend to have better taste because they weren't bred for shelf life and shipping ability. You can then save your seeds. If you are diligent in this, you won't need to purchase seeds again unless you want to try something new.

Supposedly this "package" will grow a one acre garden. The sales pitch is filled with pictures of beautiful baskets overflowing with gorgeous veggies. In my experience, that isn't how it begins for most people. It takes time and experience to bring in this kind of harvest. They make it sound, and look, very easy. 

They also lost me with the "heirloom seeds are getting scarce" mantra and by the time I got to the price I was angry. This is just the type of sales pitch that plays on the fears of people who don't have a clue about gardening. No one who has any experience in gardening or seed purchasing would fall for this "deal". Heirloom seeds are fairly easy to find - even at Walmart!

In this "package" you only get 22 varieies of seeds. Here is a list with the number of seeds included in the "package". 

October Bean (200), Black Valentine Bean (300), Bountiful Bean (200), Detroit Dark Red Beet (300), Copenhagen Market Cabbage (300), Stowell's Evergree Corn (250), Reid's Yellow Dent Corn (300), Bushy Cucumber (90), Yellow Parma Onion (1000), Bloomsdale Spinach (400), Scarlet Nantez Carrot (1,050), Red Salad Bowl Lettuce (1750), Oakleaf Lettuce (1750), Hale's Best Melon(175), Green Arrow Pea (500), Fordhook Giant Chard (200), Brandywine Tomato (200), California Wonder Pepper (200), Early Jalapeno (200), French Breakfast Radish (900), Waltham Butternut Squash (40), Rossa Bianca Eggplant(50)
Granted they are generous in their quantities but think about it - wouldn't you rather have more variety and less quantity of seeds? Anyone planning on planting 300 cabbage plants? 1750 lettuce plants? Think about this - if you went to a store that only had 22 choices scattered over the entire growing season would you continue to shop at that store?  

I've grown quite a few of these varieties. Some of them are good and some of them...well...better choices could have been made - for example, the Rossa Bianca eggplant is ok but there are other eggplant varieties that far surpass it in taste and productivity in my opinion. 

Where are the cherry tomatoes?  paste tomatoes? For goodness sake - where are the watermelons? broccoli? okra? bunching onions? snow peas? kale? mustard greens? red, yellow, orange peppers? summer squash? zucchini? 

They throw in a few extras, seed saving information, gardening information and a solution to "jump start your seeds" so they will "grow like crazy". Each of these "survival seed packages" are placed in a waterproof container with a "very expensive dessicant" to keep seeds fresh for 20 years. Sorry folks, some varieties just don't have that shelf life no matter how well you store them. Dessicants are easy to find and not that expensive. My advice, keep your seeds dry and put them in the freezer.

The cost of this lovely package...sit down now...have a cup of tea handy...perhaps my Energize Me tea to help you recover quickly... deep breath now...$165.00 with shipping and handling!

Take my advice and keep on walking....right on over to Fedco seeds or many of the other fine sellers of heirloom seeds. You can grow a huge, lovely family garden filled with variety from spring till first frost for much less than that....much less! Buy a little bit more than you need...a little bit! I do this so that if there was a seed shortage the next year or if I couldn't save seed for some reason I would still have enough seed to grow a huge garden again. We spent much less than $100 this year on seeds - including herbs, medicinal herbs, flowers and plenty of produce and veggies! We even added a lot of new varieties. The seeds we ordered were heirloom seeds except for one hybrid tomato that we grow because I'm impatient for that first tomato sandwich.

If you need help picking tried and true varieties, learning when and what to plant and need other great gardening information, let me recommend my Perpetual Garden Calendar! This calendar is filled with gardening advice for every month of the year and you keep and use it every year - no need to purchase it ever again! I still have mine from 6 years ago and use it diligently! You will also find gardening tips, recipes, a seed longevity chart, a frost-zone conversion chart and much more!

Here's what a recent customer had to say after receiving her Perpetual Garden Calendar in the mail:

Cheri...I LOVE the garden calendar.  I was sooo overwhelmed by what to plant, when to plant, if to plant seeds or buy sets.  The calendar is a life-saver!  I'm sure there will be lots of questions as I go along, but, at least, I'll know WHAT to ask the nursery people and my friends who garden.  Thanks sooo much for passing along your wealth of knowledge.  Your calendar will bless our table, our canned goods shelf, our budget, and our family!  The best $20 ever spent on "food."  Christy D.
Let my calendar make your gardening a little bit easier year after year! Try some of the varieties we grow that are listed in my calendar , they've been tried and tested and are delicious and prolific!  

Let's garden together this year!




  1. Great review, great advice. I definitely plan on buying your calendar when I am able.

  2. That is SUCH a great review and you are so right! There is much more variety out there and heirloom seeds are plentiful...for now :-)

    I have to give high praise to your garden calendar. I bought it several years ago when I was just starting to think about a garden. This year will be my third garden and your calendar is still my go-to resource! I love it!!

    I took all your advice on varieties of things to plant and I've not been disappointed with anything. Thank you for all your wise gardening wisdom for black-thumb novices like me!

  3. Thank you Rachel!

    Lady Why...you make me blush! Thank you so much for the kind words! Even after all these years, I still use my calendar - it's so much easier :) From your pictures it looks like your thumbs are greening up!

  4. Cheri,
    I just wanted to add a positive comment for your calendar as well. I purchased it last month at your soap class and I have read it completely and learned so much! I am so excited about using it month by month. I am already adding notes about my specific area. It is a wealth of information! Thank you so much the hard work that went into writing it as well as making it available to customers!
    Thank you!


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