This week, we have a rather nice list to look at, from readynutrition.com. This list I can get behind pretty well, without any real qualms: 25 survival seeds you need for your garden.
Now, ordinarily I’m a bit leery of “garden-in-a-can” type products/lists; they tend to be full of a) plants you’ll probably never eat, b) plants you don’t know how to grow, and/or c) seeds to cover a couple of acres worth of garden. (To be fair, most “garden-in-a-can” producers have a few worthwhile collections, but they’re not necessarily the main ones advertised.) One of my biggest complaints about them is that they’re packaged for “viability in storage;” frankly, my favorite way of maintaining viable seeds is by growing the actual plant, and saving the seeds (a good skill set to have, in any case). Go out and plant stuff you’ll actually eat, in an actual garden. Save some of the seeds. Plant them next year. (If you’re picky about which seeds, or from which pieces of produce, you’ll actually be selecting for hardier, healthier, tastier plants.)
All that said, having a “backup seed stash” (in case of crop failure for whatever reason) is probably not a bad idea. And the Ready Nutrition seed list looks fairly solid; you may want to “tweak” it a bit–and again, it looks like you’d need an acre of garden to have room for everything–but they’re generic enough in the descriptions to give leeway for varieties, etc.
Without further ado (or discussion, until after the list), here it is:
(Obviously, they reach “25” by counting the garlic and rutabaga separately…) Looking the list over, I would make a couple of small changes. I’d drop the rutabaga, okra, and peanuts, but add in cabbage. Peanuts are somewhat intensive to harvest, and there are lots of problems with potential allergies these days. While I like okra, not everyone does (my wife and kids included); that’s enough for me to drop it. Rutabaga may as well be turnips; both have edible roots and greens, and are prepared similarly. Cabbage surprised me with its absence from the list–there are many possible preparations for it, it is very healthful, and can be preserved very easily (sauerkraut, anyone?).
Actually, on further reflection, lettuce might get dropped from the list for some folks–not enough caloric value in it. In a “fast” collapse, you’ll want to get as many calories per square foot as you can. Personally, believing as I do in a “long collapse”, I’m fine with having the occasional salad. (My wife also points out that onions and garlic shouldn’t necessarily be on this list–they don’t provide many calories, but are aromatics. You could argue their worth from a health standpoint, though, and as far as flavor goes, I’m not giving up my garlic.)
A bit of research would be necessary to find varieties good for your local climate. And you’ll want multiple varieties of as many of those as possible–both to stagger the harvest times, and because you might use different types for different purposes (Roma tomatoes for sauces, beefsteaks for slicing & eating fresh, cherry for eating ripe from the vine). The article also stresses practicing growing things, and starting the garden small and building up. [The “fenced-in” portion of my garden (solar-electric fence, to keep out most furry critters) covers about a 20’x20′ area, and it’s really too small for what we have planted–but now we know that, and can adjust our aim for next year.] Practicing will also let you know what sort of yield to expect from a given type of plant: corn will give you between 1 and maybe 5 ears per stalk, with three or less being most common, while a couple of cucumber plants may provide you with more cukes than you can eat; tomatoes likewise go crazy, and beans are prolific.
One other bit in the article I was happy to see was mention of green fertilizers–inter-planting with clover and/or vetch during the “off season”. For my money, clover is the way to go; many vetch species are invasive and hard to get rid of, but your mileage may vary. Whichever you use, it’s better for your crops, and for the soil in the longer run.
The Ready Nutrition site has lots of good articles, and a few more lists I’d like to go over in future posts. In all, I’m giving them a solid 5 of 5 stars, and will definitely be visiting their site in the future.