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Safety Seed Information

Here are some very important things to consider when buying a seed for a seed bank:

  • Organic Seed is not manufactured, but grown on a farm by a farmer.  Many people forget this.  It is a living embryo.  It must be treated as such.
  • How seed is stored while waiting to be sold.  Yes, that seed looks nice sitting for months in the greenhouse garden center, but it is hot and humid (very bad for seed).  Or worse, someone's garage that is running a survival supply company over the Internet. Seeds are living organisms.  Temperature fluctuations and high humidity drastically reduce the viability of seed.  We store our seed in a temperature- and humidity-controlled room.  We go to great expense to do this.  Our seed is kept at 55* until the time it is shipped to you.  If your very survival is dependent on this seed, wouldn't you want the best and freshest seed?
  • Germination Standards.  This dictates how much of the seed you get actually sprouts, or germinates.  Seed companies must follow federal guidelines set forth based on these standards.  Who regulates the survival seed/supply companies?  They should fall under the same laws if they are selling seed, but do they even have a license to sell seed?  Did you know that it is perfectly legal to sell onion seed, for instance, that only geminates at 70%?  Or what about carrots that only have to germinate at 55%?  What if you went to the grocery and the checkout clerk rung you up for an apple then cut it in half and threw half away? That is what 55% germination basically is.  We are a seed company.  Our very reputation is staked on having the highest germination and success rates.  When buying from someone who is not a seed company, how would you know the quality of the seed till you "pop the top" and try to grow it?  What if only a small percentage of your seed germinates?  If you truly were counting on that seed/garden you would starve!  Why in the world would anyone wanting "survival seed" buy from anyone but a reputable, licensed seed company?
  • Foreign grown seed.  Most seed companies and seed brokers buy seed grown around the world.  Many buy from the cheapest sources like China or India.  Why is this bad, you ask?  Besides the obvious of not supporting American farmers, there is the issue of regional seed adaptation. Click here to read the list.  In short think of it this way... You want seed as closely adapted to your region as you can possibly get.  Seeds/plants are not widgets.  One type doesn't grow everywhere and produce abundant harvests.  Your success depends on organic seed that is regionally adapted. I know that most Indian seed companies, for instance, are not producing plants/seeds that are adapted to my California conditions.  We don't get that hot, humid, or have that kind of moisture available to us.  Plants from those seeds will not succeed here.  If my life or "survival" depended on this I would at least want organic seed that was produced on the same continent! 
  • Organic Seed is a seasonal commodity.  Did you know most seed crops are contracted out a year or more in advance?  There are only so many American farmers growing heirloom seed  these days and most are contracted to large wholesale seed houses that dominate the market.  If you want American grown seed and you are a seed company you must buy from these companies unless you grow it yourself.  Most of these companies will not deal with anyone who contracts small amounts of seed like the hundreds of small survival supply companies or other seed companies popping up overnight on the web.  What does that mean?  That means they must buy from another sub-dealer or seed broker.  So instead of getting the seed straight from the farm then the seed house, they get what has been through many hands and what other bigger seed companies didn't want and ones with lower germination rates .  This seed is transported all over the country through many warehouses, temperature extremes and many types of storage facilities all handling a living organism ... seed.  You can see the problem.  We grow our organic seed, we contract directly with local organic farmers and directly buy from reputable organic seed houses. 
  • Is the seed genetically engineered?  Is it a hybrid?  Can I save seed year to year and have it come true?  Where does it come from? Did you ask?  Most people don't even ask where their food comes from, much less their seed.

"The "worlds largest" supplier of vegetable seed to the market is Seminis. Seminis is owned by the makers of Agent Orange, DDT and RoundUp.   Monsanto is the leading producer of genetically engineered (GE) seed, holding 90% market share for various GE seeds." [1] (Source Wikipedia)      Click here to see what seed companies are selling Seminis seed.

  • Many of these survival seed companies have greatly overexaggerated claims as to food production from their seeds. They say these few seeds will produce "thousands of pounds". How do you get "thousands of pounds" from 20 seed packets?  Others offer seeds in nothing but paper packages with nothing to protect the seed from rodents or moisture. We directly emailed one of Internet's most visible "Survival Seed" companies, asking how long their seeds would store this way and we were told "seed will store ten to a thousand years when kept dark and dry". Maybe, if you store it underground in the desert or in a cave. I assumed he was referring to the seeds found in Egyptian tombs or Anasazi caves??? Most of us don't have a cave handy or live in a desert.  Not to mention some seeds, like onions, only last a couple of years in the best of conditions.  Obviously, these people don't grow seeds or food for a living!

How Long Do Seeds Last?
Many times we are asked how long vegetable seeds will last. When some survival seed companies say their containers keep seed "fresh for decades" in their "hundred year time capsule", that is an outrageous claim in my opinion, and unless you're storing seed in a desert tomb or frozen vault I doubt you will be able to pop the top 100 years from now and "grow hundreds of pounds of food". The chart below is a good guide, but you must remember seeds are living things. YES, many times seeds store much longer if stored properly in ideal conditions. Keep your seed dry and cool at all times. Ideally you want to store seed below freezing for maximum storage time, but this is not necessary. The best way to ensure "survival seeds" is to grow them out every year.

Seed Shelf Life
Seed Type Years Seed Type Years
Asparagus 3 Muskmelons 5
Beans 3 Onions 1
Beets 4 Peas 3
Broccoli 5 Peppers 2
Cabbage 5 Pumpkins 4
Carrots 3 Radishes 5
Cauliflower 5 Spinach 5
Corn 2 Squash 4
Cucumbers 5 Tomatoes 4
Lettuce 5 Watermelons 4