Sunday, October 6, 2013

TUTORIAL - Preparing a Seed Bank

If you live on a property large enough, or even have access to a secluded area of woodland that could be tended, you can raise a produce garden. Fruit, vegetables, herbs, nuts... Anyone can do it with the right knowledge, but creating and tending to that garden takes time, and you may not be able to build it and maintain it while manning a full-time job and other duties.

Once shit hits the fan, however, you'll have far more time to spare, and you'll be able to build a garden of your own from which to get food to support you.

To do that, however, you will need seeds to grow from, and the stores where you would normally get them from may have long been closed or raided.

Because of this, it's worth building a thorough seed bank. A seed bank will keep a large library of plant seeds safe and healthy for an extended period of time (realistically 3 to 5 years).

First off, you need to select the right container. Since your seed bank is designed to be kept refrigerated, your ideal option is a glass jar which can be sealed completely. So something with a good, solid rubber seal is essential, such as a twist-top with a rubber lining, or a mason jar with a pop top.

Why glass? Since you'll be keeping this container in your refrigerator, the threat of moisture entering the container is a real one. Glass is one of the few container materials which is not actually porous. Plastic containers, while cheaper and easier to find, will eventually have water seep into them, ruining your seeds.

At this point I'd like to point out that many people think "how can I keep it refrigerated if the shit's hit the fan?". It's quite simple, really. Once the power stops, that's when you'll need to make use of it, and so it will no longer need refrigeration.

Once you have your container, you'll need to select the range of seeds that you wish to store. All garden centers and even some hardware stores or landscape supplies will sell you packets of seeds from many various varieties of fruit, vegetables, herbs and more. It's best to do a little research to work out what can easily be grown in the climate in which you live.

Here's a good example of a nice variety based on a tropical climate:

- Carrots
- Peas
- Sweetcorn
- Pumpkin
- Silver beet (Swiss Chard)
- Rockmelon (Canteloupe)
- Sauce tomatoes (such as Roma or Strongarm)
- Fruit tomatoes (such as Cherry Tomatoes)
- Basil
- Chives
- Rosemary
- Watermelon
- Parsley

As you can see in the above example, the smaller seeds have been placed into small, glass ampules, which are then - in turn - placed into the main glass container. This has been done because the smaller the seed is, the more adversely affected by moisture it becomes. So double-layering it inside glass will offer it twice the protection from outside moisture reaching the seeds.

Once your collection has been put inside of your container and labelled and categorized neatly (for ease of access when opening), it is best to fully seal the container to prevent light from getting in, as this will further preserve the seeds inside. A good way to do this is with electrical tape, like so:

Once this is complete, it is best to put a date label on the top of your container stating when the seed bank was packed and when is the latest it should be opened (approximately 5 years after it was packed). Once that is done, put it in the fridge and forget about it until it is needed. You have now a very, very large step towards being prepared to feed yourself should the time come. In the 3 to 6 months your food stores last, you can have a fully producing vegetable farm going in your own back yard which will keep you fed perpetually.

In the meantime, study up on planting and growing techniques. They'll come in handy!

- CumQuaT

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