survival seeds

Survival Seeds For Preparedness – Things To Consider

When looking for long term survival seeds, you should consider calories, carbohydrates, protein, nutrition, and those easier to harvest without machinery.

Survival Seeds – Vegetable Calories

We need foods which provide the caloric energy to keep us going!

When looking at the yield of calories per pound, some of the vegetables that come out on top are…

Dry beans such as Pinto or Navy beans (require long warm summers) are very high in calories (~ 570 calories /lb.). However ordinary green beans only contain about 140 calories /lb.

Yams contain more calories than ordinary potatoes (~ 460 calories /lb.) however yams grow best in hot climates.

  • Potatoes (~ 340 calories /lb.)
  • Corn (~ 340 calories /lb.)
  • Peas (~ 330 calories /lb.)
  • Parsnip (~ 280 calories /lb.)
  • Acorn squash (~ 220 calories /lb.)
  • Beets (~ 180 calories /lb.)

[ Read: Garden Vegetable Calories ]

Grains, starchy vegetables and fruit all provide calories.

Corn grown as a grain is a good ‘survival’ choice. Although it does require a lot of comparative square footage for those calories. Not only is corn very high in carbohydrates, it yields better than the small grains like wheat. Corn can also be grown and harvested with simple hand tools.

“Potatoes, sweet corn, & beans. Yes, its the backbone of my garden and the sweet thing about it is, all the seeds can be saved for next year..”

~ commenter here on MSB

Survival Seeds – Carbohydrates

Starchy vegetables include root crops.

Starchy vegetables, as the name implies, contain starch and sugar. Much like a grain, they provide energy and can sustain life. Starches are complex carbohydrates that produce vital energy when your body converts them to glucose during digestion.

Examples include carrots, parsnip, potato, pumpkin, rutabaga, turnip, beets, winter squash.

Fruit tastes sweet because of the sugar, but is not as high in carbohydrates as it seems. Small fruits like berries and grapes can be established in a few years, but trees will take much longer. If you have a place to plant them, do it THIS year.

Vegetables High In Protein

As most of us know, meat is the highest protein source. However, did you know that dried pumpkin seeds have extraordinarily high protein content? Nearly as much, pound for pound, as meat! So, when you grow those pumpkins, harvest the seeds too!

As we go down the list of vegetables, those a bit higher in protein than others include soy beans, beans (black, pinto, kidney), and peas.

[ Read: The Amount of Protein You Need ]

The Most Nutritional Vegetables

Macronutrients and Micronutrients. Some vegetables are much more nutritious than others. When considering survival seeds, you should very much consider these too!

The list of extra nutritional vegetables include spinach, swiss chard, cauliflower, asparagus, carrots, broccoli, onions & garlic, kale, beets, bell peppers, green peas, and collard greens.

“Glad you brought up Kale! Kale is TOPS for a home-grown, nutrient dense vegetable. With all of the uses of Kale and Kale seeds, I consider Kale to be the most important ‘green’ crop available in my area.”

“Also, even though vitamins and minerals will be only a small concern in a worst case scenario, I find that Kale produces a TON of nutrient dense greens from a small space.”

~ comments here on the blog

[ Read: Broccoli – I Grow The Plant For Its Antioxidant Health Benefits ]

Survival Seeds

With that said, many of us have some sort of extra storage of seeds. Personally, I keep most of mine in an old plastic ammo box. It contains quite a mixture of seeds I’ve purchased during the last several years, as well as those I’ve saved from my plantings.

Heirloom Seeds versus Hybrid Seeds


Heirloom seeds will produce plants that are the same, year after year. They have the same genetic make up as the parent plant they came from. All generations will produce the same fruit or vegetable and have the same taste that you remember from your grandparents garden plants. An heirloom plant is one that has been passed down through generations.

The seeds that are withheld and dried from a heirloom tomato for example, will again produce the same wonderful tomato plant the next growing season. It is a self sustaining food producing system.

The downside is that heirloom seeds and their subsequent plants will typically require more care and prevention from pests and disease since they have not been altered for disease and/or climate tolerance. However it is best to learn how to garden with them if you are at all concerned about self sustained living.

Hybrid seeds and the plants that grow from them have been bred for various qualities including disease resistance and production yield. As diseases evolve to attack the newer hybrids, the hybrid itself is re-engineered to combat the evolving threat. Hybrids are also engineered for specific climates and environments.

The produce of Hybrid plants will produce seeds, however, the results of the follow-on planting may not be so successful. The use of hybrids require that you buy new seeds, year after year. This is not self sustaining. However an advantage is disease tolerance and other inbred tolerances which will better assure results.

“As a gardener with 40 years experience, I recommend you have a mix of heirloom and hybrid seeds.”

“Heirlooms because they breed true, and hybrids for hybrid vigor.”

~ commenter on MSB

Survival Seeds. They provide peace of mind.

Of course the key is ‘know-how’ and a good bit of ‘luck’ (weather and such), you gotta have survival seeds!

I recommend stocking up on a quantity of seeds (enough to last several years). If you have not planted a garden before, I highly recommend that you start now, or next seasonal opportunity. It takes a number of growing seasons to figure things out, and every year that you wait is another year lost…

“I have a rotating seed bank I use, I don’t keep seeds more than 2 years, but rotate what I do use, and yes I do 90% of my own ‘starts’.”

“What I do is, each year after I finish planting all my seeds, I take a new inventory of what I used, what I had, and replenish the difference plus a few more.”

~ comment from the blog

Although I buy my seeds individually by choice, a number of seed companies offer “Heirloom Survival Seeds” in bulk kits. Maybe you do that as a sort of backup plan to your regular seeds… Though I have no affiliation with these companies, a few that seem popular are as follows…

This survival seed kit may be of interest:
(view on amzn)

Heirloom survival seeds

or this one, Survival Seeds Vault, 105 Heirloom Varieties – nearly 20,000 Seeds

105 Varieties

They also have a downloadable PDF guide,
“Everything You Need To Know About Planting & Storing Your Heirloom Seeds”

survival seeds vault

Anyway, the point is to have a look at your seed inventory. Do you have enough to plant next year? Or the year after? Some of the seeds that I have are pretty old. Can’t bring myself to throw them away. Surprisingly, I generally have pretty good results, even with seeds that are many years old. General rule-of-thumb may be a max of 2 years for better results. Store them in a dark, cool, environment. I keep mine in the shop building which is always cool (concrete floor & insulated).

[ Read: Grow Your Own Garlic ]


  1. Kale,
    Depending on climate kale is a hearty grower, can tolerate frost and cold, will grow in hot as long as theres water and the seed keeps exceptionally well.
    We have plants that will grow wild that are edible, chayote is one, grows wild in many places and shoots as well as fruit is edible, as with everything your climate makes a huge difference what you can and can not grow.
    Im leaning towards stuff that the seed keeps well, lots of seed lately that will barely last one season, maybe seed was old to begin with?

  2. One of the things that amazes me is the “preppers” that buy cans of “survival seeds” and think they are going to dig up the grass in their backyard, throw out some seed and in 90 days have a bountiful crop. Gardening is hard work and it takes years to understand which soil is best for which crops, what grows well in your zone and when and which insects are most active. This morning my wife and I built 4 more 8x2x2 planting boxes for the garden and I have a trailer load of top soil to fill them so I can start getting then ready for next spring. Seeds will do you very little good if you don’t haven’t prepared the soil to plant them in and there will be a lot of disappointed preppers that failed to plan and prepare a garden.

    1. Romeo Charlie,
      the old people who use to live here and taught me how to farm, the hard way ( come and help me for a minute ) and i would get home at dark, when they planted corn they would say put 4 seeds on a hole.
      one for the bugs, one for the crows, one for the blight and one to grow.
      Gardening is hard work and i don’t think it is ever mastered, to many variables. if you have a good year put up enough up for the next, you never know what mother nature will throw at you. you can’t count on anything.
      good luck

      1. nyscout, Well said. From one year to the next, growing conditions can vary dramatically. What does well one year, might not the next, and vice versa. If extra is planted to accommodate losses, and there aren’t any losses, that’s just more cushion, or to share with those whose gardens didn’t fare as well. I lost most of my squash in the fire, but my neighbor didn’t, so he’s sharing. I’m sharing green beans with an elderly couple, and they’re giving me cucumbers, as those also got burned up. Plant as much as you think you need, then plant some more!

      2. True words NYscout
        Even after years of growing experience stuff still goes sideways

  3. To Kula: I have yet to purchase, prepare and eat chayote. How do you fix it?
    To Romeo Charlie: You are correct, that is why I use raised beds of whiskey barrels filled with soil that gets reconditioned, weeded and prepped each year. I have some grass for me and the dog to run around on. I will not be able to grow for food independence rather, my small plot is there to provide a source of joy and relaxation for my wife, dog and myself.

    1. Calirefugee,
      i cook chayote in a iron skillet with coconut oil, it makes it easier to scrape it into the garbage can. : )

  4. We have a small city lot so our small garden is in the front yard. It had grass growing on it since 1966 when my Dad built the house. We have raised a garden there for about 8 years. We use compost and manure but very little chemicals. We always keep seed from the garden to replant and add new each year. We often buy seeds at the end of the season when they are very cheap to plant in next years garden. We have a plum, peach and 2 apple trees but they are not making fruit yet. We also have raspberries and blackberries. We get a tremendous amount of food from a small garden but are not even close to being self-sufficient. I don’t care for kale but I really like poke. It grows wild here and I let it have one corner of the garden

  5. You can cook chayote like any other squash. It has a mild flavor. Roasted in brown sugar with butter and cinnamon works for me.
    Think about growing collard greens. I find them to be very cold hearty here in zone 6b. I have some plants that have wintered over twice now. These plants have been covered in snow and ice. It doesn’t grow new leaves in the real cold weather, but it survives. I like to pick some green leaves in winter for a fresh vegetable treat from the garden. I enjoy making it on New Years day and in the worst of January. Getting snow covered sweetens the taste.
    When the plants flower the following summer, cut them back to prevent them from going to seed and will winter over again.
    My experience with kale is that it will not winter over.

  6. Very good advise given today about if you have extra preserve it for next year. This year on the Canadian prairies it was very hot & dry so we had a poor pea harvest but a very good sweet pepper harvest. I picked 17 lg. peppers from 1 plant & several plants had 13. Amazingly some even turned red. Had to pick the big ones yesterday because there was a possibility of frost. Picked 87. No frost. Therefore we will pickle & freeze a lot of peppers but also give some to several of our friends who lost their gardens to hail. Tomatoes also doing very well. This year also trying to save seeds from some biannuals. We will see how that turns out.

  7. Unfortunately we didn’t plant a garden this year because we were in a drought through winter and by the end of June we still didn’t have water. Our well is 20 years old and pumps 7 gallons a minute, or it did 20 years ago. Our water catchment tanks were dry. We had a big garden last year and canned a lot. Come July we have had so much water that seeds left over in the soil have grown into a jungle in out garden. Potatoes I planted that didn’t come up 3 years ago are up. Our bean bed is loaded as are beets and turnips, lettuce and cucumbers. The 4 tomato plants I did plant just to have some fresh tomatoes, are loaded with tomatoes. The grass and wild plants around here are so high that 2 more feet and they will be over my head! God is great!

  8. My brother who lives with me now, purchased about a dozen packets of seeds. The seeds from three different packets failed to sprout. Two other packets sprouted something totally different than what it should have been, (we never did identify what they were, could have just been weeds). So now we have taken to saving our own seeds from what we buy at the farmers markets. Figured that if they were able to grow in this area we should be good. We make sure they are not hybrids first.

  9. Although it is important to remember that “heirlooms” were not always the near-clonal varieties we have now. They were genetically diverse local landraces. It’s only been since “supermarket” produce has been a priority that the identical taste and size and shape has been important. People would develop their own varieties, trade seeds with neighbors, bring seeds for things they liked into their own gardens.

    As plants are bred back into the same lines year after year they weaken (the origins of the term hybrid vigor) and also do not adapt as easily to environmental changes.

    It is relatively easy (though time consuming) to develop the varieties that fit your own tastes rather than the tastes of someone who may have lived 100 years ago or more.

  10. Ken: “Some of the seeds that I have are pretty old. Can’t bring myself to throw them away.”

    By planting the older seeds you’re reinforcing the genes that allow the seeds to survive.

  11. Thanks Paleo for the instructions on cooking chayote. My survival strategy in the past was to go ethnic: go shopping in ethnic neighborhoods, learn to prepare and fix ethnic foods because mass quantities can be purchased for less money. Most ethnic neighborhoods are filled with 1st generation folks that do not have high paying jobs and they have many mouths to feed. Chayote is one of the things I see at ethnic markets that I have yet to learn how to prepare at home.
    My wife and I still like eating ethnic Mexican food even though neither one of us is Mexican. I ate a lot of burritos in the days when I was going to college/trade school and working part time through school. If and when times get tough, I plan on going “ethnic” again. ( fewer steaks and more burritos ). Same can be said of stir frying of meat and vegetables. Stir frying allows me to feed 4 people with 1 lb of lean beef. If fixed properly, nobody feels cheated about not enough meat.
    Sadly enough, all it takes is one finicky eater or spoiled individual to make one rethink their food storage. ( I’ve got one nephew that will not eat anything except chicken strips ( white meat only ).

  12. I’ve heard you can freeze dry seeds and make them last 20 years – would love to see an article on it.

  13. Justin I just used freeze dry seeds into my search engine and the article came up. Take a look.

    Reading the article seems not that much better than normal seed saving procedure of drying of the seeds and storing in a cool dark place (Indeed Part of the process) as for the lifespan of viable seeds.

    That and I did not see the author actually trying to grow them a few years later report. He said he was freeze drying them, placing in zip lock bags (not exactly airtight nor moisture proof) and planting them next year or so.

    He did give a procedure on how to determine how viable the seeds were before planting.

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