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Nice Collection But Hardly What You Need for a Survival Garden
on December 2, 2013
While this is a nice assortment, it is marketed toward the inexperienced gardener and prepper who has never grown food. If you have a limitless expanse of land to plant vegetables, this medley is great and has some great tasting varieties. If you have a small quarter acre lot or less, and you are tearing up every square inch of your yard for the actual survival of your family without other food sources, this mix is not an efficient use of your time or energy. When selecting what to plant for survival, the most important thing is to consider is the space the plant takes up and the calories it contains as well as the storage capabilities. The most calorie dense foods are potatoes, corn, grain, winter squash and root crops such as carrots and beets. Here's my review of each of the varieties contained.
Blue Lake Bean Over 150 seeds - Blue Lake is a fresh eating bean only. Instead, consider an heirloom that is good as a dry bean and fresh, such as Cherokee Trail of Tears (which is also drought resistant). That way beans can be eaten fresh or dried, shucked and saved for soup in the winter without canning. Beans are essential as they are they contain the highest source of protein in your garden.
California Wonder Pepper Over 70 seeds- These are large blocky bell peppers. If you must grow a sweet pepper, grow a variety that has more small pods, a slim profile and shoulders that do not face the sky at 90 degrees. It will lessen the chance of sunscald and damage from hail.
Scarlet Nantes Carrot Over 800 seeds- Plant short, stubby carrots instead, like Danver's Half Long. They will do well in all soils, including clay, they will be less mishappen for better storage. Eat the greens too. They have more nutrients than the roots and will stay green well into the fall.
Marketmore Cucumber Over 150 seeds- Cucumbers are a lot of space for very few calories. If you must grow them, grow a bush pickling variety. Bush varieties take up less space and pickling varieties can be eaten fresh, or pickled.
Parris Island Cos Romaine Lettuce Over 900 seeds- Only grow in the winter in cold frames, or very early spring. There are far more nutritious greens like chard, orach, amaranth, quinoa. The calories you expend growing lettuce isn't worth it if you're in survival mode. Take a multivitamin.
Golden Acre Cabbage Over 530 seeds- These get to be 3 to 4 lbs per head, and does not yield much in the ways of calories. I would very carefully consider your storage options before planting a bunch of it.
Detroit Dark Red Beet Over 260 seeds- Excellent choice
Lincoln Shell Pea Over 100 seeds- Good to grow
Lucullus Swiss Chard Over 160 seeds- Chard is the easiest thing to grow in your garden. Nutritious, it is also the most drought, cold, and heat tolerant of any vegetables and has few problems from pests. If you don't know what you're doing, plant more of this one.
Beefsteak Tomato Over 180 seeds- Plant a smaller fruiting variety. Big tomatoes are prone to more problems, such as hail. It's easier to fail with a large fruiting variety. Any medium round heirloom that is golfball to baseball sized and not prone to cracking is a better choice. Smaller tomatoes are also good for sun drying.
Champion Radish Over 320 seeds- Good. Not high in calories, but quick to harvest, and takes up almost no space.
Green Sprouting Broccoli Over 500 seeds- Low in calories. Only grow if it's a winter crop.
Waltham Butternut Winter Squash Over 100 seeds- excellent choice
Bloomsdale Long Standing Spinach Over 260 seeds- Plant this instead of lettuce. It grows early and can be harvested early and planted with something else.
Yellow Sweet Spanish Onion Over 145 seeds- Onions are whole different ballgame depending on where in the US you're located. Yellow Sweet Spanish is a northern storage onion (there are many pungent varieties that store longer). Down South, you don't need to grow long day onions because onions grow year round. If you live in the South, consult a local nursery about the best onion varieties.
Golden Bantam Sweet Corn Over 250 seeds- Corn is the single most important survival item in this can, and sweet corn is not as useful in a survival situation. What you want to get is a drought resistant dent corn. There are many drought resistant dent corn varieties that can be eaten fresh, and which can also be dried and ground into flour or saved for animal feed. Sweet corn is only good for fresh eating.
Hales Best Cantaloupe Over 70 seeds- Poor storage. A morale booster, perhaps, but if your goal is to stay alive...I wouldn't plant very much.
Snowball Self-blanching Cauliflower Over 285 seeds- Low calorie and prone to pests. Again, winter crop only.
Black Beauty Zucchini Over 50 seeds- Don't plant zucchini which is c. pepo, low calorie, and more prone to pests and which has no storage value. Plant Tromboncino or a similar c. moschata squash whose fruit can be eaten during the summer as zucchini or grown to full maturity for a long storing winter squash that tastes like butternut.
Crimson Sweet Watermelon Over 60 seeds- only a little more more useful than cantaloupe, but there are other varieties of watermelon known for their storage quality. Those would be the ones you want to seek out and plant.
If you are serious about preparing for SHTF event, please visit some forums about growing food and practice with a kitchen garden or guerrilla gardening so you understand your local growing conditions. Potatoes will keep you alive more than any plant listed on here. Also, other plants not included in this collection that you should seriously consider adding are amaranth and quinoa. Both are drought tolerant, both provide greens and grain, and amaranth grain is high in protein as well.
Again, I am not knocking this collection for its value or quality of varieties. I'm only criticizing its value as a seed survival kit. People who think they are buying some insurance to protect their families in a SHTF event would do well to consider the caloric needs of their family and look at purchasing 10 varieties well suited to their specific location instead, as well as planting fruit and nut trees.
Also, seeds store much longer when frozen. If you store in an airtight container to keep out all moisture, seeds can last 3 or 4 decades with very little loss of viability. If you invest the time assembling a serious doomsday garden survival kit, you can make it last during the good times by sticking it in the freezer.