The idea that we need a seed vault is real, but do you need one that is store-bought? Not so much.
There are few things in the prepper “industry” that bug me and one of them is the commercialization and degradation of the issues that we face. A store-bought seed vault is one of those issues for me. In this blog, I look at seed vaults that are DIY or ready-made.
Survival Seed Vaults: Build Your Own vs DIY Kit
What is a Seed Vault?
The answer to that question varies a great deal. We have the mega example of Svalbard – the Global Seed Bank and then the off-the-shelf bag of seeds in the mylar bag. A seed vault needs to keep seeds safe and that means a container that has low moisture, is out of direct sun, and in a temperature zone that is ideal for each type of seed that you save.
Just like people, seeds have varying needs. This is one reason why the off-the-shelf seed vaults complete with 1,000 variety of seeds are bunk to me. You can certainly by a variety of seed vaults or you can make one that is just as effective and that will likely better fit into your prepper master plan.
Why Do You Need a Seed Vault?
The idea behind a seed vault or seed bank is to supply you and your family with the means to grow food in the event of some catastrophe where the supply of regular food is interrupted or diminished. The first consideration is that it takes money to survive in this world and in the face of a natural disaster, the flow of money is often interrupted.
A seed vault helps you mitigate the need for food (down the road as it takes time to grow a garden) and to conserve the financial resources that you have available. This means that you might not have to make that tough decision between eating and buying fuel.
Seed vaults are also valuable because the commercial seed varieties are shrinking and changing. With the continued use of GMOs, many people are looking at safeguarding seeds that are organic. Also, of great concern to those of us who grow our own food is the loss of heirlooms that are pushed out of the market and replaced by standard types of seeds that everyone wants.
Seed vaults also resonate well with the segment of preppers who are concerned about food security. Those concerns range from the chemical additives to foods to the reliance on foreign countries to supply our food. The grow-your-own population is growing, and seed banks are highly beneficial to these people.
The original seed bank is something that the farming community has used for millennia. In ancient times farmers grew extra plants so that they could harvest the seeds. In my garden, I do the same thing. I grow a half a row of this or that and I let those plants go to seed.
This practice ensures that I have the seeds I need for the next growing season. That is the exact reason why farmers save seed. In the old days, there were not mega stores where seeds were readily available. People grew and collected and saved seeds from the plants that they used.
Meals and feeding one’s family revolved around the types of plants that you could grow and the animals that you could hunt. Family recipes, meal planning, and the very culture of people developed based on food (and a few other things.)
Think about the difference between Italian food and Spanish food. Those “foods” developed based on the types of plants that grew well in those areas. Even in countries such as Italy, the variation of the same foods changes from one region to the next.
Issues with the idea of Seed Banks and Off-the-Shelf units
One thing I truly dislike about commercial seed vaults is that not all of the seeds in that vault are going to grow well in your area. The labeling too irritates me. “1,000 seeds – enough to feed two people.”
How many seeds do you need to feed a family of four for an entire year? This is not a seed vault. It is a gimmick designed to take the money from people who in my opinion rely too heavily on the idea that every prepper product is going to work, especially if you don’t have the experience to utilize it.
- If you don’t know how to garden, how are you going to grow two acres worth of seeds and magically produce an ongoing food supply?
- What happens when your seeds run out?
- Do you know how to collect and save seeds?
The biggest problem with store-bought seed vaults is that they are missing several links in the chain.
Some are beautifully made and comprehensive in their contents but without the knowledge to grow crops, harvest food, and save seeds, they are pretty much worthless. In the catastrophe you might even face greater challenges to growing food then you would under normal circumstances. There is also the big “time” issue to solve too. Crops are not magically ready in a day or a month. They can take 60-180 days to see eatable foods.
At the heart of what we do is that we prepare. That must go past the fact that we can just buy a bunch of seeds or ready-made meals. Somewhere in all of this must be the grout the secures each step in our prepping plan. To simply amass all these things and expect that they will fit perfectly into our lives or even work is at best, hopeful.
I have seen a variety of seed vaults over the years and the idea that we are building a mini version of Svalbard is not too far off. The difference is that we do not need all of the technology. Quality seed vaults are not long-term storage systems. They need to only hold seeds for a few years at best. The reason why is that your system should be one of use and replace, not store until needed.
Seed Vaults – DIY vs. Store Bought
In my opinion, if they sell you only the vault and not the seeds and you need a place to store seeds, then great. If they are selling you a bunch of seeds, then you likely don’t need this product. The reason is that your seed vault needs to be filled with seeds that are tried and true in your location.
You are wasting money buying seeds that are never going to grow in your location. A good example of this are places where the growing season is short, and your feed vault is full of melons and peppers that take 120 days to mature.
A Seed bank is easy to assemble. Mine is a thick-walled wooden chest in which I have containers. I use paper envelopes for many seeds, such as beans and peas. I use Mason jars for storing seeds that are more sensitive such as rutabaga seeds.
There is also a spot in the chest for a collection of seeds for later use. I never use my entire stock of seeds. One crop failure would mean that I am out my entire stock of seeds. I use the 90:10 rule – I use 90 percent of the seeds and save 10 percent for the next year. I also collect seeds at the end of each harvest.
Everything goes into a glass container. For me, it is Mason jars. Some, I put on the lids and others, I leave to air. Anything with a lid gets a couple of paper towels to help control moisture. Seed environments should not be 100 percent dry as the seeds will dry out and then die.
The idea of using a jar with a lid works because the moisture level in the jar diminishes slowly over time and the paper towels help to absorb the excess moisture. Big seeds, such as beans, do just fine in an open jar for a year or two. The longer you plan on keeping the seeds the better the system has to be to control moisture.
I store my seed vault in a closet in my house where the temperature remains mostly even year-round. I also keep a very small version of my seed vault in an old jewelry box with 5-25 seeds of everything I grow in it. This is also stored in the closet and is part of the bug-out equipment that I take with me, should I have to leave the property. That little bundle of seeds is all I need to replace the bigger chest.
The bottom line for me is that a DIY seed vault fits better into your life than do most of the store-bought versions. I grow about 75 percent of what I eat and I understand how to grow everything in my seed vault. If you take nothing from this article but one thing, please take the idea that you must garden and grow the seeds in your seed vault before you need to use that vault during a catastrophic event.
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