Saturday, October 1, 2011

the most important thing to have if SHTF - my opinion

in the event of SHTF - we need a stockpile of food. we need weapons. we need ammo. we need skills. we need BOL's. or we need to have a plan for bugging-in. we need a community. we need a variety of things. and the experts will tell you all of the most important things that we need.

but to me, since becoming a "prepper", a "semi-survivalist", a "homesteader" - the most important thing that i believe that jambaloney and i need is a very dependable amount of stored seeds, of every variety and kind that we can get our hands on. all of which must be heirloom, organic and GMO-free. we need to learn how to plant those seeds, grow those seeds, and learn how to save those seeds.

if we are willing to store one year's worth of food - then we need to store 1 year's worth of seeds. that's my creed. every time you add to your stockpile of store-bought food, freeze-dried food or whatever - you need to spend the equivalent on seeds that will grow well in your area. in my area, for example, potatoes thrive. last winter, i spent $15 for a 5lb bag of 3 different kinds of potatoes. and i spent that money because the 5 varieties of potatoe seed that i had been saving for 4 years ended up being flooded in the basement! so i paid for more potatoe seed, grew those potatoes and i will save some of those potatoes for seed for next year. and next year - i will pay $0 to replant and grow potatoes - you see where i am going with this?

last year i spent about $4 on 4 different types of radish seeds. again, although i had lovingly coaxed and grew about 6 different kinds over 4 years - those too were lost in the flood. so this year i purchased more and i planted 2 varieties. i let some go to seed and next year i will spend $0 on buying radish seeds.

and the same goes for cabbage, turnip, brussell sprouts, kale, carrot, onion and swiss chard - to name just a few. and these are just examples.

there are companies out there selling "survival seed vaults" and "seed stores" and whatnot - and i cannot speak to whether they are just cashing in on the latest trend or if they are indeed reputable.

i recommend that you find a local source for your seeds - that way you know that those seeds can grow in your area. we are fortunate to have several seed suppliers here in the maritimes.

i may need to purchase some additional seeds in the future - and i will. but right now - instead of investing all of our extra money in food stores - i would prefer to invest our money into seeds. i spent 4 years learning how to grow a variety of seeds and saving seeds, while living in the city, before we were able to move to our BOL - and that was an excellent use of mine and jambaloney's time.

if i could pass on one piece of advice to all of my friends out there - get seeds. another weapon or another package of MH freeze-dried food, in addition to the 5-400 that you already own, does not make any real difference. spend that $300-$500 dollars on investing in seeds that will grow well in your area. and do it now! and learn to grow them and save them! and learn to freeze, can, dry and smoke all of those beautiful veggies, fruits and herbs that come from those seeds.

it is a one or two-time investment. and if you do it right - instead of stockpiling store-bought food - you can start stockpiling your own, homegrown food! and the sooner you learn to do this - the better!

i am not a fan of freeze-dried food, nor am i a fan of MRE's or any of that. i am also not a fan of having 200 cans of campbell's tomatoe soup all marked with purchase dates and expiry dates filling up my pantry. i am a fan of having my own delicious cream of tomatoe soup with basil and parmesan, made from my tomatoes and basil and with local farm-produced parmesan and cream that, after i cook it all together - i can it in my canner. and then line my pantry shelves with that!

and i can do that by saving seed from my heirloom, organic GMO-free seeds from my tomatoes and basil every year. and by having local sources of dairy and meat here less than 20 miles away - i am smooth sailing. and saving a ton of money - a ton!!!

please put some investment into seeds. please.


  1. Seeds are very important. I keep my varieties in an ammo can packed nicely. Also I have learned there are many tricks and preps each seed type needs.

    But I would always recommend 2 years worth of stored food. If things go down in October and then you run into a bad year the next season (like most of us had this season) you may need that two years worth of stored food. That is when freeze dried, dehydrated and/or MRE's shine. Not for the extreme long term but the transition.

    Good post Kymber!!!

  2. I too have stockpiled some seeds. I have a garden here in South Carolina that provided some killer squash this summer....okra is still producing, and the eggplants are near ready to pick and eat. Course now being a mutant zombie biker...I keep all my old tires to stack and use as raised beds for more garden space.

  3. I'm a food hoarder too though I probably don't have a year's worth off food. But between the large pantry full of stuff that I have canned and the freezer full of frozen meat, I could live quite well for a half year or so. Plenty of time to walk down to my parent's farm and build by BOL on the 'back 40' if all heck breaks loose.

  4. Last year was a total bust for me, but I will try again this coming year. Got to get a hold of some rain barrels since the plants didn't like our county water worth a crap.

    Since GMO's are in just about everything that is packaged, buying local and organic is the only way to go and that can really hurt the pocket book. I would really help to be able to grow some of my own.

    Thanks for the post, Kymber. You always have a way of getting my stubborn side to come out. I won't give up until I get my garden going!!

  5. I am starting to get more attuned to gardening and canning, and seeds are part of that. I still believe in having a lot of food ready to eat stored away, though. If something happened tonight that meant you couldn't buy food tomorrow, you'd have to eat until you could raise a crop. I guess out where you are at you could eat a lot of fish, and that would help. Those cans of tomato soup might come in handy though.

  6. Far too many folks don't even know what to do with seeds. Your words are true, though. They need to LEARN what to do!

  7. Having seeds is a shortfall of mine. Granted, I have some, but not enough for a large garden or enough to keep me alive. I think having a variety of stored foods is important.

    After the tornado that left us without electricity for days, MREs were handed out, as were shelf-stable foods from another survival company. Those are here, waiting for an occasion where they are really needed. I have canned foods of all variety stored. The Excalibur dehydrator is not being used enough. Out-of-date anything that is still edible won't be any consolation or health boost if the nutrients are mostly gone and the taste is not top notch. I have to ratchet up my preparations. And, I don't even consider myself a prepper!

    Thanks for the seed reminder!

  8. hey everyone - sorry - i just re-read my post and if it sounds like i am saying that you shouldn't have several years of food storage - whether freeze-dried or store-bought - i am very sorry because that is not what i meant at all!

    we have been working in our attic for the past several days - putting in an attic ladder in order to use the attic for our food stores. and the majority of the food stores that we have right now are the store-bought kind. our garden this year was a dismal failure, we have enough to eat daily but we certainly won't be breaking out the canner or smoker in any serious way!

    and just to give an example of how hard it is to move your food storage if you have to bug out - when we sold our house in the city, the people wanted the house in a month!!! we had several years of food storage that we had to give to friends and food hospices - we simply couldn't afford to move all of that food - plus - anything that was liquid or liquid-ish would freeze in the moving truck as we moved in winter.

    but we were able to take our seeds. our beautiful seeds that i had lovingly been saving for years - that's why it was such a heartbreak when the basement flooded. i had a huge big bin like the washing bins stuffed to the limits with seeds! and lost them all. but, if you check out my post called "Ted's seeds" - you will see that because of Ted's generosity - we were able to replace all of our seeds and more! we will never forget what Ted did for us!

    anyway - in a real bug-out situation - you can grab several pounds of seeds and sprout them in a cup for nourishment until you get to wherever you are going (we learned this from Kurt Saxon - that man rocks!). we are big fans of sprouts - they are delicious! and a great source of vitamin C in winter months.

    anyway - i just wanted to let you all know that if i came off as saying not to have several years of food stored - that was not my intention. my intention was to get everyone to start stockpiling seeds ALONG with your food stores. and learn how to grow those seeds. and find good, local, GMO-free, heirloom, organic seeds. and then start saving your own seeds.

    i hope this made sense. now i will answer everyone's comments....thank you all for your comments!

  9. PP - trust me - i learned my lesson during the flood! we aren't storing the seeds in an ammo can but something very similar. while i was planting and had to carry them around, i carried them in a big blue bin. but now they are all safely tucked into a metal box - in the living room - and will soon be up in the nice dry attic!

    as for how many years of food to store - 2yrs is great but i would be much happier with 5 yrs stored. we have about a year right now - but we are building, building, building.

    thanks for stopping by my friend!

    Warlock - i mean mutant, zombie biker guy - glad to hear that you have seeds! and grow potatoes in those tires - we have been growing potatoes in tires for 5 years now and we are very pleased with the results! and hey buddy - get a new post up on that blog of yours!

    Tango - you are all over everything else so i am sure that you will succeed next spring/summer. and ya - we water all of our plants from the rainbarrels. and we run the rainbarrel water through our berkeys and use it for our drinking water. anyway girl - i am glad that i bring the stubborn side out of you - you know you can do this!

    Arsenius - i agree completely. and when i mentioned those 200 cans of soup it's because we must have close to 200 cans for just in case. i am glad that you are getting into the gardening groove - when you are successful it saves so much money and you are then able to can the fruits of your labour - it is such a worthy "prepping/survivalist" venture!

    Mr. Smythe - thank you very much for stopping by and leaving a comment. your words are very true and i am hoping that by preaching "seeds" that others will hear the call and start learning how to grow their own food. thank you Sir!

    Practical Parsimony - i have read your blog and enjoy it thoroughly. and this may come as a surprise - but you are a prepper! if that shocks you then you are in the right place! after years of me and jambaloney being called hippies or greenies or tree-huggers - we finally realized we were preppers! and i think, madame, that you are one too!

    thank you everyone for all of your well-thought out comments. we really appreciate your taking the time to do so!

  10. That's really a good idea, thanks for sharing!

  11. Very true. I keep heirloom seeds packed away and have for years..rotate them.

  12. I have one concern. Attics can be hard on food storage. Extreme heat or freezing temps are two of the hazards. You don't want cans or food stores to lose nutrients because of high heat. Likewise, freezing commercially or home canned foods will result in losing your preps. Anything I store is in a temperature controlled area of the house. Even my dried beans stored in half gallon Ball canning jars need to be treated with care to prevent spoilage. Have you considered the extreme temps and conditions in your attic?

  13. Even though having seeds is a must, you can have all the seeds in the world but if you don't know how to grow, harvest, put away and resupply your seeds then it is all a waste. That is what I was getting at in my last post about prepping for nothing. If SHTF and you don't know how to live then there will be a day when all your canned food will be gone.
    Great post, sorry for the comment.

  14. When I read this I was assuming that your attic doesn't get that warm in the summertime up in Canada?

    I agree with Practical Parsimony on the temperature issues.

    I can really see the heat affecting the vacuum on the home-canned food. If it get warm enough, the air pressure generated in the glass might be enough to "pop" the lid?

    Just wondering.

  15. Seed are important, I'm not an expert but from experience they need to be stored in a dry cool area. I have heard of people freezing them but I have not done that. Also, like you say local suppliers are good. The sellers online call them 'heirloom' but really they are just not hybrid.

  16. Here is what to look for:

    Nice, waterproof can, lots of seed for those of us that grow lots of cool weather stuff, but find a source for your climate zone. These are prime for my location in N. California mountains.

    Also helps with floods...oops!

    Then again, canning jars work great. Put them somewhere cool. Sure THAT isn't hard in Cape Breton. NO, not that cool, LOL.

    But also be aware they don't keep too long. I have had SOME seven or eight year old seed grow fine, but not all will. Do plant and save seed.


  17. hey friends - thanks for the concern about storing food in the attic. i need to do some clarifying yet again - i was rushing my answer and knew what i meant but you guys and gals didn't know...

    we are putting in the attic ladder in order to free up space in the house for food stores. by putting extra clothes and blankets, etc in the attic means we will now have extra space for our food stores in the house.

    we'll be putting up pics of the work that we have done in order to make storage room for our food stores - including storage under our bed - which is a home-built job consisting of a queen and a double mattress side by side - it's 7ft long, 10ft wide and 12 inches high - we love it!

    anyway - this house has NO storage so we have been coming up with some nifty ideas!

    one last time - thanks for your concern - we really appreciate it. but there is no food going in the attic.

    now on to respond to your individual comments!

  18. Lon - thanks for stopping by!

    Stephen - we will rotate the seeds. i use a very rigorous system of dating them, vaccuum-sealing, etc. and putting them away. i love my seeds!

    PP - thanks for that! no seeds going in the attic! but i really appreciate your taking the time to leave a comment voicing your concerns - somebody stopping by here in the future can learn from you doing so!

    MDR - you are dead right! you can have buckets of those "seed vault" things all over your house but if you haven't learned how to grow them, tend them, etc - then they aren't going to be very useful if SHTF!

    thanks Matt for the comment! no food going to the attic - bahahahah!

    Winston - thanks for the link! those are pretty awesome! and yes - we let several of our veggies bolt in order to save the seeds - i plan on saving some seeds from everything we have planted this year and in future years!

    thank you all for stopping by!

  19. We just got a nice bucket of seeds from Costco. very reasonably priced as well. We also can, but I have to admit we did not do nearly the canning this past summer as we did last summer..

  20. Not sure how big your property is.. but as well you can bury a barrel and make a root cellar.

    Agreed with the seeds!!! (lol.. said the seed saving geek)

    Keep in a stable temperature location in air tight containers. Light, moisture and in particular temperature swings break what is called the "glass state" of seeds.. translation.. viability starts declining. The glass state is what allows seeds to remain dormant for many years.

    I know how it is.. basement flooding and seed stores lost (heartbreak). When you pack in the containers.. do several years worth of crops in separate bins.

    One of the best seed saving books out there is "Seed to seed" by Suzanne Ashworth. It is one of the best for vegetables (gives approx. storage times, isolation needs, what crosses, etc.) A must have in any gardening library.

    This was a wacky year.. many had sub-par yields and many had total loss. We got lucky only due to multiple gardens in different locations.. and swapping crops.

    Tomorrow always holds promise and potential.

  21. Anne - sorry that i missed this comment.

    our property is almost 10 acres and we plan to put in a real and proper root cellar. we have a few books on root cellaring, my favourite is called Root Cellaring by Mike and Nancy Bubel - love that book!

    sadly enough - this year's root crops aren't enough to even worry about having to cold store them - we'll pretty much have them eaten by the end of the month. except for the potatoes - thank you potatoes. we do our potatoes in tires and leave them in the tires, fishing out what we need for a meal, and only fully harvest them after there is several days of frost in a row. no need to worry about that until mid-November.

    and i love Seed to Seed!

    thanks for stopping by!

  22. Excellent advice! I especially liked how you mentioned obtaining local seeds - I feel it is important to know what will and what will not grow in your area. Maybe some locations don't have to worry about that as much, but here in Flyover it is important.
    The Anonymous Homesteader