Are you into homestead, gardening, or farming? Well, in all cases, one effective way of being prepared for any kind of natural disaster is by starting a personal seed bank. Preservation of food and agricultural produce should be at the top of your list while preparing for the future.
This process of creating a personal seed bank is related to the freezing and canning of agricultural produce. In situations where no seeds to plant are accessible, and you, along with other farmers, are suffering to earn an income, a seed bank comes into the picture.
If you wish to start a seed bank, we have got you covered. In this article, we will be walking you through some of the techniques related to building a personal seed bank. To know more about the same, keep reading!
What Is A Seed Bank?
With climate change, extinction, and natural disasters on the rise, creating your personal seed bank to save food grains is a good idea.
This is an effective method of ensuring the preservation and storage of various heirloom crops. Additionally, a seed bank helps in protecting loved ones from struggles related to food and income that could arise in the future.
You are able to have a personal mechanism through which you can share seeds with fellow beings involved in gardening, homestead, and farming.
National seed saving banks set up to store varieties of plant species and heirloom seeds are spread throughout the world, and one of the most famous out of these is the Svalbard Global Seed vault in Norway. Additionally, seed saving helps in creating opportunities for regions and farmers who are agriculturally challenged.
You may think its advantages are limited to this only. However, the benefits of banking seeds are so much more. They’re enough to get you going with the process without having to think any further!
Besides, any additional information and data related to these banks can be found at the local and international levels considering their rising popularity.
Why Should You Practice Seed Saving In The Form Of A Seed Bank?
Starting a seed bank allows you to safeguard heirloom varieties and rare species of plants around you. Seed banks may also be set up for restocking populations in times of natural calamities, provision of humanitarian aid, and projects based on plant research.
It also enables one to save seeds that you and your family love. This could include the early-ripening tomatoes or beautifully scented flowers that you may favor around you. By creating your own seed bank, you get to decide which plant you are saving seed from and why the process of saving seed is important to you and your family.
Ways To Save Seeds
The concept of seed saving is different from starting a seed bank. Under seed saving, farmers bank seeds to grow plants during the next season and share with other struggling farmers around them. However, when one starts a seed bank, it’s with the idea of saving oneself and others from facing a struggle in terms of food and income when a natural disaster occurs.
The chances of putting a seed bank into use may be less but definitely not completely out of the picture. A few things that you may need for your personal seed bank include:
· Seeds to save (open-pollinated, hybrid, or heirloom seeds)
· Paper bags
· Storage containers
· Mylar bags (non-GMO)
· Metal containers
Listed below are three different ways that you can adopt to start a seed bank. You can refer to these for the same.
How To Start A Personal Seed Bank – 3 Ways
When you start a seed bank, the first step is to decide what kind of seeds you wish to save. It is usually recommended that you start with saving seeds of fruits and veggies, followed by grains and the lesser liked varieties by you and your family.
Heirloom seeds are open-pollinated or self-pollinated varieties of seeds. These are the easiest to save. Open-pollinated heirloom seeds are old and historical varieties. This may include potatoes, beans, and peas. On the other hand, storage of hybrid seeds is not recommended as these are extremely sterile and fragile in nature.
They have the capacity to develop traits that vary from the parent plant varieties and are good for the plant to grow only in one particular season. The season too, may differ from one plant to another.
1. Start A Seed Bank With Seeds From Your Garden Area
One good way to start a seed bank is by selecting and saving seeds from your own garden. This is a good idea of saving money and ensuring long-term storage for the future. However, you must make sure that the seeds you are choosing are mature and healthy.
The preservation and storage of these seeds must be done properly for them to last. Usually, seeds saved from one’s personal gardening area are capable of lasting for about 2-3 years.
However, this period may vary depending upon the varieties you have chosen to store.
2. Start A Seed Bank With Locally Grown Vegetable And Fruit
Having your own garden is not necessary for this process. You can visit a local farmer’s market as well to buy seeds and start a seed bank from locally grown fruits and veggies. However, you must be aware of the growing process of different varieties of fruits and vegetables.
In this way, you can choose seeds that suit your convenience. One of the most common problems associated with this process of seed saving is that the fruits and vegetables may not be mature in nature. One may end up with seed packets that are unviable.
It is also essential to label your seed packets and keep them organized. You can use a sectioned box for this purpose.
3. Start A Seed Bank With A Ready-Made Seed Kit
It is really simple to start a seed bank with a ready-made seed kit. It is usually recommended that one practice seed saving on their own. However, you can also buy a seed kit for yourself before the next harvest season. Several varieties of seed bank kits can be found in the market. One such kit is the Emergency heirloom seeds Vegetable bucket from Heaven’s Harvest.
This seed bank kit consists of 38 varieties of vegetable seeds that one can grow plants from. These seeds come in mylar bags and have a shelf life of 10 years if you store them properly.
Additionally, all seeds are open-pollinated, non-hybrid, and non-GMO in nature. Heaven’s Harvest is known to offer a survival seeds kit and water filtration as well.
Preparing Seeds For Storage
Wet seeds are found in fleshy fruits and vegetables. Such fleshy fruits and vegetables may include tomatoes. They begin to ferment and rot when they fall to the ground. As they are being removed from the process of natural fermentation, it’s essential to mimic the process for the seeds to remain viable for future use.
This requires proper storage of the seeds. In order to save the seeds from rotting away, you can remove them from the fleshy skin of the fruits and vegetables and place them in a bucket full of water for 2-3 days. In this way, you will be able to mimic the process of natural fermentation successfully.
This will enable you to separate the good seeds from the bad ones. Any kind of mold and viruses present in the seeds will also be removed. While the bad seeds, along with dirt, will float at the top, the good seeds will sink.
Post-fermentation, you must remove the good seeds from the bucket and dry them up completely. These can then be stored in the freezer to get rid of any possible pest that may be present in the seed variety. You can then add these seeds to your personal seed bank.
Dry seeds can be found in a plant that is non-fleshy. This may include herbs, peppers, and peas. You can dry these seeds easily in a dry room or solar oven. You can then remove the outer coverings of the seed shells. Seeds of a tiny plant can be shaken into a seed bag wherein they will be collected once they fall.
How To Store Seeds For The Long Term
Storing a variety of seeds for future purposes can be really beneficial for one’s family and friends in case of a famine, financial crisis, or a natural calamity. When you begin with a personal seed bank, it is important to ensure that all storage containers are free of moisture, rodents, and pests. This is necessary for the survival of the seeds and to ensure their long-term storage.
Air-tight containers, mason jars, mylar bags, and a mixture of silica gel and powdered milk in cloth can also be used to save seeds. This helps in moisture retention to a considerable extent and ensures the survival of different seed varieties for the future.
Seed-pack labels can be used to avoid confusion that may often arise at the time of planting. Additionally, in the end, all seeds saved should be stored in a cool, dry, and dark area.
Using The Seeds You Have Stored
Once you successfully managed to choose the seeds to save and store for long-term uses, your seed bank will be ready.
You may now wonder as to what you can do with the seed bank. Seed banks allow you to become self-sufficient in terms of good grain production and keep you and your family safe in times of difficulty.
However, you can choose to share these seeds with your friends, organizations looking to store seeds, and fellow homestead and gardening lovers too!
Test Seed Viability Before You Plant Them
Wrap the seeds saved for your seed banks in a damp paper towel. You can then place the seeds in a bag made of plastic with a small opening to allow ventilation.
This should then be kept in a hot and well-lit room. Once the seeds begin to sprout, it will indicate that they are viable and really ready to be planted. The same process can be adopted with a variety of seeds to learn about their germination rates.
Make Seed Saving A Community Activity For Building A Seed Bank
A seed bank is more or less similar to an insurance policy. It is an effective way to store varieties of seeds, including native, heirloom varieties, and hybrid seeds, for long-term purposes in case of natural disasters, extinction, climate change, a financial crisis, and much more.
Without seeds and seed-banks, we may not have access to food. Our survival is ultimately dependent on nature.
If you have friends or family involved in gardening, you can come together to grow a variety of plants to save seeds out of and share them with each other. You could also start your own community barter system to collect enough seeds for times of struggle.
Disadvantages Of A Seed Bank
Now that you have gone through the wide variety of benefits associated with a self-made seed survival bank, it’s also important to come to terms with its disadvantages. This may include the following:
- Storing a variety of seeds can often lead to the creation of a false sense of security. This may lead to some people claiming that they have a species of plants. However, in the long run, they may realize that the stock of seeds collected is not enough.
- Secondly, seed banks require a lot of care. The seeds must be kept under controlled conditions with moisture retention, the right amount of light, and temperatures. If not, severe damage may be caused to the seeds selected and stored.
Creating your personal seed bank is like an insurance policy for you and your loved ones. It not only allows one to preserve their heirloom seeds for the future but also serves as protection for you and your family against any possible natural calamities, income, and employment struggles that could arise at any time.
Taking into consideration the huge amount of benefits associated with the creation of a personal seed bank, one can also encourage the people around them to invest some time and energy in building a community for the same. This is likely to promote collective good for all.
The various steps that one can adopt for the same have been mentioned above. These range from selecting the respective seeds, storing them in packs, and finally putting them to use when needed. Although this process is filled with advantages, there are certain disadvantages too.
These disadvantages are related to the amount of time, and care one needs to give throughout the process. One needs to be committed to the task and ensure proper storage of the seeds at all times. This includes placing them in areas with moisture retention, adequate light, and suitable temperatures.
While this may seem difficult in certain cases, it isn’t impossible and can be done with a certain amount of extra effort and care.
James Fields is the founder of Gardener to Farmer. His passion for gardening goes back to his childhood days when he would visit his grandfather during the holidays and help him with the plants in the backyard. This has now translated to creating a dependable resource for gardening.