I was contemplating seeds, this being near the start of planting season. Along the way, I ran into a particular variety of squash that would be nearly ideal for a “survival” seed archive, or a “preparedness pack” as I like to call them. That got me wondering just what might be in the ‘typical’ seed packages sold to folks as “survival preparedness”. I was not very happy with what I found.
This article is the result. It tells you how you can make a very small “survival seeds” package, and have it safely stored for a decade (or maybe more) for not very much money at all.
Since I’m certain the question will come up: What squash?
Well, one of the least appreciated aspects of a disaster garden is that it must do two things that are orthogonaly opposed. It must deliver food very fast, and it must deliver food that will last for nearly a year to get you through the coming winter. Modern gardens are usually only about the first of those. We want some sweet corn for the BBQ and don’t want to wait past July 4th to get it. December be damned.
Old gardens were about each side of that point. My Dad passed on to me some of the considerations of the Amish style garden that his parents grew. His Dad was an American Mix of Irish and German and French (near as we can tell). His Mom was Amish. We grew a more traditional style garden when I was a kid. Not a lot of lettuce, plenty of corn, beans, and squash. My earliest gardening memory is from about 4 years old when I grew a Pink Banana Squash that was about as big as I was at the time ;-)
So what was interesting that I’d not seen in all these years? The Seminole Squash.
Why? Well, how about a squash that keeps for a year, yet can be eaten as a ‘summer squash’ when young, has a shell that is nearly impervious to critters (it is helpful to have an ax to open it), yet cooks nicely and has both edible flesh and seeds? Oh, and it will climb trees, so you can plant it under an otherwise not so garden friendly tree and let it climb up, making squash that hang like Christmas ornaments away from ‘critters’ on the ground.
Seminole Pumpkin 3 g
Retail Price: $2.75
Heirloom Southern Organic (C. moschata) 95 days.
[Cultivated in Florida by the Native Americans in the 1500s.] Keeps up to 1 year at room temperature! Small fruits are sweeter than Butternut and have firm, deep-orange flesh. Large vines bear bell-shaped buff-colored fruits averaging 6 in. in diameter. Resistant to vine borers. Excellent downy mildew resistance; a good choice for hot, humid, disease-prone areas. Give it ample water and room to roam. Also good as a summer squash when picked young. Pkt.
Catalog #: 53604
Vines can be 20 to 30 feet long (you need that to climb a tree…) so you could even grow this up onto your roof for added garden space.
Here’s the view of a Southern seed source, so take their “any season” in the context of any Florida season ;-)
Are you having trouble growing vegetables in our hot Florida summers? The Seminole Pumpkin is an answer to the gardener’s woes. This could be the easiest vegetable you’ll ever grow.
The Seminole Pumpkin is a native plant of south Florida. It was cultivated by Florida Indians and early European settlers. Almost lost in modern time, the Seminole Pumpkin is making a great comeback as an easy summer season vegetable.
The fruit resembles a winter/acorn squash, but much larger. The shape of the fruit varies, mostly oval or oblong. The color ranges from variegated greens, yellow to a dull orange. This thick skinned fruit can be stored at room temperature for months. The pumpkins are generally 6 – 10 inches in diameter and weigh as much as 8 – 12 pounds.
The Seminole Pumpkin is a dream come true for the organic gardener. Can you believe a plant with no insect problems. References say gummy stem blight, a disease, can occur, but it hasn’t been experienced by this grower. Plant your seeds in a large area so the vines can run on the ground or climb on a fence or trellises.
Seminole Pumpkins can be planted almost any time of year except the dead of winter. Spring or summer is the best time to plant. The harvest is ready in about 95 days, but the vines will produce until the first frost.
The fruit is sweeter than other cucurbits, yellow or orange in color and not stringy. It can be baked, steamed, boiled, fried or sun-dried as the Florida Indian did. Our native pumpkin makes great pies and bread.
The Seminole Pumpkin is a hardy plant that can take both drought and wet conditions. Plant some seeds soon and enjoy this wonderful vegetable.
Unlike other squash, it doesn’t rot if stacked up for storage. One reference said to just stack it up at room temperature and that they had been eating them over a year after harvest.
That is the kind of thing you are looking for in “survival garden” food. Lots of starch, proteins from the seeds, few pests, no need for heavy fertilizers (the deleted part mentions low fertilizer use), grows easily and large with lots of production and not a lot of ground prep, and makes a product that you can store for a year. Far different from lettuce and cucumbers…
A Typical Seed Package
Here’s a couple of links to the typical kind of seed package sold to “preppers”. IMHO most all of them “have issues”. Largely around varieties chosen (usually ‘typical summer gardens for things from the grocery store’ instead of ‘get me through the winter from hell, THEN feed me something fresh, pronto’. Also realize that each part of the world, or the USA, needs a different variety of each kind of plant. Beans that do well in a Florida Swamp are not going to love the Arizona Desert (and certainly not without ‘city water’ and infrastructure) while New England Peas do well in a Boston spring, but not so well in a Southern California setting (where you CAN grow bananas!). Local seed suppliers often select for varieties to put on their seed racks that are known to do well in your area. You just can’t get that in a “One Size Fits All” package sold nation wide.
So in these packages you see things like lettuce and cucumbers. No, I have nothing against either. But they are not going to get you through the winter nor are you going to eat them quick in the spring. (Radishes come up first in spring, and overwintered turnips. While overwintered beets can provide rapid greens, and winter kale is your cold weather friend).
This one has such things as cucumbers and lettuce in it. Going to make a side salad for your non-dinner? Low calories and not able to store much. (If you are thinking pickles, where’s your vinegar?…) Then there is a heading cabbage. LOTS of dirt needed for cabbages, and they take a long time to make a head. Similar comments on the cauliflower, which is also harder to get to maturity with a decent head on it. The near obligatory bulb onion (more on that below) and a nice sweet corn, but where is the corn for winter tortillas or cornbread? Finally, there’s a tasty almost all water cantaloupe and watermelon. When you may well be living on limited water supplies, you will be dumping huge amounts on melons? For nearly no nutrient gain?
On the plus side, there’s a mix of winter and summer squash, both green and dry beans,
Included Patriot Seeds
Blue Lake Bush Bean – over 150 heirloom seeds
California Wonder Bell Pepper – over 70 heirloom seeds
Marketmore Cucumber – over 150 heirloom seeds
Scarlet Nantes Carrot – over 800 heirloom seeds
Parris Island Cos Romaine Lettuce – over 900 seeds
Golden Acre Cabbage – over 530 heirloom seeds
Detroit Dark Red Beet – over 260 heirloom seeds
Lincoln Shell Sweet Pea – over 100 heirloom seeds
Black Turtle Bean – over 70 heirloom seeds
Beefsteak Tomato – over 180 heirloom seeds
Champion Radish – over 320 heirloom seeds
Green Sprouting Broccoli – over 500 heirloom seeds
Waltham Butternut Winter Squash – over 100 seeds
Bloomsdale Long Standing Spinach – over 260 seeds
Yellow Sweet Spanish Onion – over 145 heirloom seeds
Golden Bantam Sweet Corn – over 250 heirloom seeds
Hales Best Cantaloupe – over 70 heirloom seeds
Snowball Cauliflower – over 285 heirloom seeds
Black Beauty Zucchini – over 50 heirloom seeds
Crimson Sweet Watermelon – over 60 heirloom seeds
Somewhat better. Uses open pollinated heirloom seeds. It does have a fair number of dry beans in it, along with a ‘dent’ or flour type corn. But is light on squash types, and has some tasty but not exactly essential foods like eggplant and hot peppers. Sorry, but if I’m trying to make enough calories on limited dirt, by hand, to feed a half dozen people, I’m not going to put much dirt toward low calorie / low nutrient foods like eggplant. It makes a great “summer garden”, but not so good on the “max calories from min work in a disaster” aspect.
1) October Bean
2) Black Valentine Bean
3) Bountiful Bean
4) Detroit Dark Red Beet
5) Copenhagen Market Cabbage
6) Stowell’s Evergreen Corn
7) Reid’s Yellow Dent Corn
8) Bushy Cucumber
9) Yellow Of Parma Onion
10) Bloomsdale Spinach
11) Scarlet Nantez Carrot
12) Red Salad Bowl Lettuce
13) Oakleaf Lettuce
14) Hale’s Best Melon
15) Green Arrow Pea
16) Fordhook Giant Chard
17) Brandywine Tomato
18) California Wonder Pepper
19) Early Jalapeno Pepper
20) French Breakfast Radish
21) Waltham Butternut Squash
22) Rossa Bianca Eggplant
Now don’t get me wrong, I love onions, think a lettuce salad pleasant, and think eggplant parmigiana is very nice, but in a real survival situation I’m more worried about making hoe cakes and oatmeal gruel than eggplant parmigiana or a nice dinner salad…
And the choice of a bulbing onion is particularly distressing. There is a long slow process to grow onions from seed to bulb. For most folks, a fast green onion would be a far better choice. Furthermore, Onion Seeds are typically only viable for one year unless frozen or refrigerated. So in this list we have an onion where your first year will be spent growing “sets”, that then you can place out the second year to make bulbs, but the seeds will not be viable 2 years after you place your order. Also note that there is zero mention of the “day length” dependence of onions. Onions make a bulb when the days get “short”, where “short” varies by variety. You must buy onions that match your latitude, roughly, or no bulbs for you. This is just setting folks up for failure.
The “Wonder Pepper” I can almost see as they have a lot of Vit-C that can be scarce on a ‘beans and grains’ diet, but Jalapenos? Really? You are on the edge of starvation, so instead of more beans, grains, and squash you want a few very hot peppers? It would be far better to put a small spice bottle of ground chili pepper in your kitchen cabinet (it keeps for years) and skip the home made hot sauce during The Apocalypse…
There is exactly one squash, and that one isn’t even a particularly flexible one. See the above about the Seminole squash. Personally, I’m trialing the Lakota Squash this year. You want a durable and flexible squash and one that provides a lot of edible seeds too. Those seeds are what get you through the winter long after the roast squash is gone.
Squash Winter Lakota Organic HEIRLOOM Seeds
85-100 days. This gorgeous squash is much more than a decoration. A superior baking variety, it has fine-grained flesh with an enticing, sweet, nutty flavor. Once a staple variety of the Lakota Sioux people, it has not been widely available until recently. This widely-adaptable winter squash stores well.
10- to 20-foot vines.
Where is the “yellow crookneck” or “zucchini” or other summer squash? We all know that one bush about 3 feet on a side makes more than you can eat, and does it quickly. Personally, I’ve settled on the “Rond du Nice” or “8 Ball” (they look to be the same) as a spherical Zuk of about the right size for a family of 2 folks (kids have moved out). Picked at about golf ball to billiard ball size, they are great. (Run to seed they are about 6 to 8 inches in diameter and FULL of edible seeds). These guys make fruits in about 45 days, then continue for most of the season.
Then two lettuces and a melon? Really? All water and not much substance. You will devote dirt area and labor for effectively negative calorie gain? When faced with starvation motivations? You can put the cucumbers in here too. Nice in salads, and the pickles might be nice, if you happen to have a few gallons of vinegar and a canner laying around… But your average Joe and Jane looking for some calories in a hurry in Bad Times? Um….
Finally, there’s the absence of “seasonal sense” again. A Heading Cabbage? Really? It takes a LONG time to grow a cabbage to a head, and it is not for beginners. Yes, on an Amish farm you grow a lot of them. Making coleslaw and storing for the winter is good. Again, if you have done it for a few years, have a couple of acres, and have already learned the ropes. (A heading cabbage is a very large thing…) Now the real “survival” version of this would be a matched set of a Kale and a Collards instead of a heading cabbage. Each makes edible leaves fairly quickly, and for a long time. Kale grows even during light frosts. Collards may be a touch bitter, but will still produce in a Southern summer, and some like Green Glaze are fairly bug resistant. Between them you can have something growing darned near year round anywhere from Miami to about Pennsylvania.
I’d also point out that these lack ‘depth’. I have seeds stored that are better in cold and wet, and better in hot and dry. Not JUST my “typical for this area with a hose”. In a real disaster, I have options no matter if it is colder, hotter, wetter, or drier than ‘typical’.
There are lots more like them. These folks are not chosen as particularly bad (in fact, they are OK in many ways), but as ‘typical’.
The DIY Way
Here’s a one quart wide mouth mason jar with seed packets in it. This lives in the freezer and the seeds will keep for years (maybe decades) that way.
For those wondering about using glass and breakage: I’ve had these survive a 7.1 Earthquake in the freezer, fridge, and cardboard boxes. They survive being wet, and when various plastic things (bags, even a thick walled ‘ice cooler’ box) were chewed through by various rodents and ‘possums, these just sit there, solid and safe. Do put them inside a cardboard box with crumpled newspaper around them if in quake country. In a fridge or freezer, and packed so as not to ‘rattle around’, I’d expect these to survive even a tornado or hurricane (if you can find where it is…)
Now that particular jar has 24 packets of “small seeds” (things like radishes and turnips and carrots) and 4 or 5 packages of “big seeds” like peas, beans and corn. All up, about 25 to 30 varieties in one quart, without a whole lot of work. Notice that is a larger number than the 20 to 22 listed above for the example commercial packages.
And, if you want more total seeds, you can make as many of these as you want. Only opening the one that is appropriate for the particular season or type of plants wanted at that time.
Cost? Seeds packets run around $1.80 to $2.80 around here at local outlets (garden stores, Whole Foods, hardware stores). Yet I’ve also gotten them for as low as a dime each (Walmart a few years back, now I think they are at 50 ¢ each). Notice that turnip packet has a 20 ¢ price on it. It is from 2011, so ought not be too much more expensive now. A further trick? Often, at the end of the “garden season” folks will sell out the “about to expire” seeds for very cheap. I got a lot of seeds from a CVS pharmacy for 10 ¢ / package a year or three back. Just ask them when they clear out the seeds and show up then. (Usually about August around here, but maybe into September). So call it $1 to $2 average. That’s a $30 to $60 ticket… yet you can get “something” for as low as $5 to $20 with some shopping for cheap.
Oh, and you don’t need to use the deluxe canning jar I used. I’ve also recycled old mayo jars (back when they were glass) or more recently used tomato sauce jars or even jars from peaches ( Costco sells peaches in jars for not too expensive). Just wash, dry, and load.
What To Put In Them?
First off, this is my major complaint about the “buy a pack and hide it in the prepper closet”. Growing plants is not like opening a can of ravioli. You must know what you are doing. So either actually practice all this stuff with a garden (even a ‘toy garden’) or expect a lot of failures in your first year or two (if you HAVE a year or two to learn post “Aw Shit”…) But there are some general guidelines from what people did in the past.
A) You want three speeds of plants. FAST feed me NOW first up in spring. Medium, typical summer garden. LONG Storage. Things like dry beans, grains, and winter squash. Learn to think in terms of seasons and plant life cycles, not what you buy in a can at the store.
B) It doesn’t matter if it isn’t your favorite. Learn to love things you never eat. Turnips, for example. What matters is the nutrients in them, and when they are available. Or if they grow in your area at all. Turnips were traditionally planted in the fall, then all winter you could dig up the roots and eat them. In Spring they would make greens that could be eaten as well. (Something similar can be done with “fodder beats” or “mangle beets”). The Radish was prized as “first fresh vegetable” of spring. Folks dearly looked forward to that first fresh crunch after a winter of dried beans and cornbread… So love your turnips, radishes, and all. BTW, the “Winter Black Spanish” radish can grow in many areas during the winter. It is quite HOT, so forget the Jalapeno in winter and embrace the Spanish radish…
C) It isn’t up to you, it is up to the plant. You may just LOVE English peas. If you are in a hot humid place, you will have Black Eyed Peas and Lima Beans instead… Similarly, folks in The Frozen North may love a good Lima, but it isn’t going to mature before frost. So look into the historical “regional cuisine” of your area. It has clue about what grows there. “Boston Baked Beans” are iconic because those beans grew well there. Iowa Corn Bread similarly.
That item “C” is why I can not tell you what to put in your jar. And why a “fits all” package is less than ideal. Does a local wilt or fungus just LOVE that particular cabbage? Is the local squash bug fond of taking down yellow straight neck? Your local seed selling store is going to sell seeds that are better suited to those issues. (Also, for example, I’m allergic to corn, so if someone told me to depend on corn, well, I’d be in big trouble). I grow Runner Beans each year as they keep the local carpenter bee pollinator fed, and while I’d not want to eat the fibrous greens in a normal world, they make a large mountain of edible green leaves very fast (the roots are perennial here) with ‘first beans’ very early. (Purple Pod beans also sprout in colder wetter soils than regular green pods, so they are good for ‘faster beans’ too).
That, then, means you must do your own research and reach your own conclusions. But there are still some guidelines.
Generally, you need a couple of types of legumes (beans, peas, fava, lima, …) and some greens or yellows (for vitamins, minerals, fiber, and a surprisingly high level of proteins) and a starch (for those calories and often for storage). The traditional American Indian mix was corn, beans, and squash. The European mix varied, but was things like peas, wheat or barley, cabbages and collards. Asian structure tended to rice, turnip family greens (choy), and ‘long beans’. In The South of the USA, you would find “black eyed peas” and Limas instead of northern white beans, and collards instead of cabbages (both the same family, and will cross, but collards are more heat resistant and grow to leaf a lot faster).
There are literally thousands of varieties to choose from, and that’s your job in the DIY world.
First thing to do is make a planting / harvesting calendar. What is YOUR local weather cycle? In Phoenix Arizona, the “down months” tend to July and August (where heat tolerant tomatoes are OK, but forget the lettuce and peas), while in Fargo North Dakota those are prime growing times. Assign your plants based on how long they take from planting to maturity, and what weather they like. Then find any ‘gaps’ and ask if you can grow something then.
First off, think of radishes. I don’t care if you don’t like them. They are THE fastest thing out the gate in spring, and in a real disaster, you will like them. If the spicy flavor puts you off, the Asian kinds are often quite bland. (Daikon for example)
And yes, you CAN eat the tops. A bit “rough” for most folks most of the time, but in a real disaster, cook and eat.
WHILE the radishes are coming up, you can wait for slightly longer period crops. Look for some very short season things like 45 day sweet corn and those 45 day “8 Ball” zucchini squash. Similarly, you can ‘over plant’ carrots and beets. Then ‘thin’ the little ones and eat them ‘right quick’. I used to resent “thinning” the garden as a waste of seeds, but once you realize that it serves two purposes, better growth AND early eats, it makes sense. Similarly, a fast collard or kale can provide some greens via thinnings while you wait for the main growth.
Bush type is often faster than vining type. So you want both. A fast bush type green bean AND a longer slower vine type that produces to the end of the season. Some beans are “dual purpose” ( or even ‘three way’ ;-) with green beans, ‘shelly beans’ and dried beans all available. Especially in older heirloom types. As it is “dirt cheap” to make one of these DIY systems, feel free to make a run to the hardware store and fill a jar with “the usual suspects – like the hybrid sweet corn and blue lake bush beans in the kits above – and THEN spend time cruising through all those “seed saver” and “heirloom” seed companies on line to find Just The Right Seeds for your area, soils, and needs. The heirlooms can then also be allowed to “run to seed” for your next year crop (assuming you need a next year…).
The traditional pattern was that “root crops” would overwinter in the root cellar or sometimes in the ground. Those got you through the great frozen. If you live in Florida or Arizona this doesn’t matter much. If you live in Boston, it is very important. If you live in Fargo, why? ;-)
(Please, it was just a joke, I know Fargo is a beautiful place to live… and I love snow.)
So to emulate that, you need to plan on some roots that do well overwintered. Turnips and Parsnips are classics. (Be advised that while the roots are tasty, some folks react to oils on the parsnip leaves. I never have, though, but it isn’t a ‘plant and forget’, though will often naturalize. You need to know it to harvest it right, though). Kale can often grow even in light snow.
Plan to have a couple of kinds of kale for fall through spring. (Flavor varies by type and some are not what I’m keen on… so you may need to taste test them. If you like spicy, hot mustard greens can work. Red Russian Kale is a different species and may be more to your liking. Also note that the rutabaga is from the same species, but not the same as the turnip. It has edible greens AND winter hardy roots. It is often called a “Swede” as it grows well in cold Swedish weather. ) Many Asian Greens are in fact in the Turnip family, so can grow in cold time and places. Napa Cabbage (or Chinese Cabbage) is in fact the leafy head of a kind of strange turnip family member. But I digress.
You must plan on stored grains, beans, and roots to get through whatever length of winter your area has. Also note that many winter squash store well into February in many places, and that Seminole Squash goes a whole year and does it at room temperature (where other squash often want a single layer in cool storage). So work back from that. How much is needed to still be eating when the first radishes are harvested and the spinach, carrots and beets are being thinned? Now work back from their harvest date to their planting date and plan to plant that much, then.
You CAN grow “small grains”. Traditionally the American Home Gardener grows one grain. Corn (Maize). But you can grow wheat, barley, rye, or buckwheat if you try. It will be “different”, so I suggest practice at it. I buy bulk grain at Whole Foods. As an “organic” you typically don’t need to worry about weird kinds, GMOs, or hybrids. Just buy a pound of a couple of them, put it in small jars in the freezer. Then, as time permits, work on growing it. “Hard red winter wheat” is typically seeded in fall, overwinters under snow, then grows in spring to maturity. Until you are ready for that, eating roasted squash or pumpkin seeds will likely be easier. So start with some “dent” or “flour” corn, and some traditional squash known for the seeds… Then work on your barley and buckwheat ;-)
At this point, you have a ‘winter bridge’ plan of dried beans, maybe dried peas (soup peas) in cold places, some Fava beans (that also grow in ‘near snow’), flour corn (or ‘parch corn’ or even popcorn) an optional ‘small grains’ trial, and some “roots” like turnips, parsnips, and maybe even some stored beets. In old times, large beet roots like those mangle beets, would produce greens even in winter once stored inside, until the root was exhausted. Similarly, some kinds of tomatoes can be uprooted and hung upside down to ripen the green tomatoes into early winter. That “Stowell’s Evergreen” corn is unique in that it, too, could be uprooted and hung upside down to continue to ripen corn after harvest into post frost seasons. You also have a strategy for “early food”, be it digging up overwintered roots, or loving radishes, or even lots of ‘thinnings’. Personally, I’d plan on all three.
That’s the hard nut, and needs working out first. After that, wrapping some “traditional spring / summer garden” around it is nearly trivial.
Making A Season Chart
I suggest making a simple chart of the seasons, and put your candidates in their block.
Winter Spring Summer Fall Beans: Fava Peas / Purple pod green beans Pole Kentucky Wonder Peas / Fava Bush Blue Lake Dry beans Greens: Kale Collards, Spinach Chard, Collards Chard, Kale Grains: Winter Wheat Buckwheat Sorghum, Corn Corn Squash: Seminole from Zucchini, Yellow Crookneck Red Kuril, Lakota harvest pumpkins storage plant pumpkins & seminole Roots: dig turnips potatoes, carrots, beets carrots plant turnips
Notice that lacking from this list is the entire group of saladings along with all the melons? IF you have the room and time for it, they are well worth growing, but this isn’t about a pretty show garden nor ‘what you like’. This is about not starving. For that you need beans and sorghum not cress and cucumber sandwiches. So they go into the “entirely optional” group. Now, that said, nothing at all prevents you from planting them, and a nice romaine lettuce can be easy to grow, tasty, and does have some desired nutrients. Just don’t start putting a lot of effort into lettuce and celery until you have the core starch and proteins worked out.
Also note that “special mention” goes to desert heat and dry garden problems. For example, the Tepary Bean grows in the desert southwest. Darned near killed it two years running as I was watering it. It wants hot, not dead dry but not damp either, and mostly to be left alone. Similarly some desert melons and squash grow best in those conditions. There is even an Indian Corn with a tap root that is specialized in dry land use. So if you live there, search out those specialists. ( I’m interested in them, so discussion of them is welcome if there is interest). I’ve also left out the dozen and one “field peas” from all over the south. I’ve only grown them successfully once, and don’t like the flavor of either okra or black eyed peas, so I don’t know much about them; other than that they like hot and humid.
Similarly missing is one of my favorite topics. “Unusual” food crops. Celosia and Cocks Comb (a special variety of it) make a nice very tiny grain, while commonly being grown as ornamentals. I grow it, along with Amaranth in my efforts to gain mastery of tiny grains, and figure out how to beat the birds to the harvest. (I really ought to store a bird net ‘for that day’, but for now just enjoy the birds). There are many ‘dual use’ and unexpected use plants available, like amaranth where the leaves and seeds can be eaten. But those are a bit outside the mainline and really something folks ought to come to long after they’ve got the basic “corn and beans” with a side of turnips & chard under control. All of the Famine Foods and “eating the weeds” comes into that same category. So foraging for Kudzu or a nice bowl of lambs quarters is workable, but not what you put in a jar in the fridge.
I would strongly recommend becoming familiar with that area, and folks wanting to talk about it are encouraged, but my intent here is mostly to give a short into to making a DIY seed bank for “the usual foods” quickly and on the cheap.
Finally, if you are really “into this”, you ought to plant some perennial foods and trees. And why not? Then they are just waiting for you. I have a couple of apple trees and a tangelo tree. Yes, mostly the squirrels get them as my family are unwilling to reach up and grab food ;-) but in a real “Aw Shit” those squirrels can go from “entertainment” to “dinner” fairly quickly… Edible landscaping can be productive AND pretty.
It is a whole lot easier to have things already growing in a permaculture than it is to come “up from nothing” with a jar of seeds during a disaster.
So it is far better to have a working landscape, some permaculture corners working, and a garden with deep rich soil built over a few years, than to be looking at a lawn over rock hard clay and a shovel, and wondering about dinner. With that garden already “going”, the jar of seeds in the freezer is an old friend that is there to assure you do not need a working hardware store to get seeds, and mostly it is just doing what you have done last year. The alternative of a jar and shovel is a lot harder “row to hoe”…
With all that said about “it depends on where you are”, I’m quite happy to pitch in with my 2 ¢ worth on what I think ought to work “in your area”. I’m not just tossing you to the wolves of the local hardware store on your own. I’ve spent months just reading seed catalogs (gardener folks are like that ;-) and can help a ‘noob’ over the first hump. Folks past that hump can then explore on their own what works best for them.
There are also folks here from all over the globe, familiar with things I’ve never even heard of, who can likely also give suggestions. For example in more equatorial climates you can grow a perennial “pea tree” called a “pigeon pea” (and a dozen other names in as many languages). I know little about it, though I’ve sprouted some this year to see if it can be grown as an annual here. I have found a Russian equivalent that grows in the cold, but it looks like it may be considered ‘invasive’ in California. But it is a food source, just one I don’t know well.
Hopefully this helps, and if not, hopefully someone here can help.