When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for a people to rely less on worldly (outside) sources for their food supply, one of the very first steps of action is to acquire a supply of open-pollinated vegetable seed. With a good supply of non-hybrid seed, and simple instructions on seed saving, one is well on his way to self-sufficiency. Add a small piece of land and the willingness to work and you can produce all the vegetables you need for all year round, every year.
In 1998 a friend requested that we design and package a seed kit that would last for many years for emergencies. I had been taught gardening and preserving food as a child and continued this all my years. We had experienced gardening in different parts of the country and knew the challenges and successes each year presents. We knew that if lives depended on this seed kit, we had to make it good. We could not choose really exotic varieties of vegetables; we needed varieties that prospered under many varied conditions. We needed open pollinated seed that would tolerate heat, cold, drought, poor soil, short seasons, inexperienced gardeners, weed competition, etc. So we chose those varieties that have proven their reliability. They have been grown all over the country, in all different conditions for many decades, by gardeners of varying abilities. They are very common, because they are survivors. This is what we wanted. We specialized in packaging seed so that it can be frozen and stored for 50 years with almost no loss of germination rates.
We also wanted plenty of seed. Experience has also taught us that there are many reasons for crop failure. Besides heat and drought, there are insects, poor soils, soil with poor drainage, critters (rabbits, moles, deer, chickens, cows that don’t stay in fences, etc.) in addition to gardener mistakes, such as planting too early or late, too deep or shallow, untimely harvesting, weather conditions, etc. etc. So we put in plenty of seed to allow for mistakes. Tomatoes have 600 seeds. Now tomatoes produce alot and 100 plants is plenty for a family of eight including canning tomatoes, and salsa and pizza sauce and spaghetti sauce, and tomato sauce and plain tomatoes. But when you start your tomatoes, you may have damping off problems and lose some plants. And when you set them out in the garden, you may set them out too early and some may freeze. And a fat cutworm may come along 3 days after you set them out and chew it off at ground level. After that, they usually grow pretty good, but there are a host of other insects that can bother them. So while gardening is very enjoyable and most often quite successful, we wanted to be sure you had a second chance. So we put in a lot of seed. For each variety of squash we give you 70 seeds, for peppers 560, for green beans 800-1600 seeds, for corn 2000 seeds, for cabbage, 1000 seeds, etc.
We considered how easy each crop is to start, the ease of transplanting, the quality of food produced, what you can do with the vegetable, (we love watermelon, but besides fresh eating, what can you do with it?) We considered the success rate of saving seed (biennials are more difficult). We looked at the labor involved in growing and harvesting the crop. Can you use it for winter food? And can it be used to feed animals (and neighbors?)
All our seeds are non-hybrid, heirloom, open pollinated, non-GMO seed. There is no fantastic secret about this seed. It is just seed the way it was created by nature. This seed will reproduce themselves just like they have done for hundreds of years. NO, they aren’t necessarily all that old. But there is a major difference between these seeds, and the modern hybrids. Hybrids are produced for various reasons and not all of them are evil. Some are more productive, some are resistant to a disease or insects; some ripen all at once for commercial production. Some travel better across the country than for example, softer, old-time tomatoes. But they do not reproduce seed that will grow a plant just like the parent. So each year, hybrids must have man’s intervention to produce the hybrid seed. GMO seeds are a giant step further away from nature. This involves splicing genes of plants and animals from outside the species, into its genes to produce the desired crop. For example, splicing arctic fish genes into a tomato to make it cold hardy. Our kits include a simple seed saving book.
We also include a wonderful gardening book that discusses how to grow each crop. The Vegetable Growers Handbook by Frank Tozer covers everything you need to know about cultivating all the common vegetable crops. It includes planning, soil preparation, where and when to plant, raising transplants, direct sowing, fertilizing, watering, weeding, pest control, harvesting, open-pollinated seed saving, storage, and cooking.