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Something I think about from time to time is what I would do if I could no longer get food at the grocery store due to some unforeseen circumstance. It’s easy to get caught up in the doom and gloom thoughts of the world’s crises.
Luckily, I have a seed library that helps ease my anxieties and has enough seeds to grow food for years to come!
The 10 best seeds for stockpiling are squash, beans, corn, kale, tomatoes, garlic, carrots, and radishes. You should also stock up on seeds for medicinal herbs and pollinator-friendly flowers to ensure the health of your garden and yourself!
Keep reading to learn why you need to start stockpiling these 10 seeds. I’ll also go over how long you can expect your seeds to last and the best way to store them to keep them viable for as long as possible.
1. Squash (summer and winter)
Squash seeds are great to always have on hand because they’re a classic summer crop and produce high yields. Winter squashes are especially great because they have an amazing shelf life. Hence the name “winter squash”.
Once cured properly, winter squash can last anywhere from 2 to 6 months in storage. That’s definitely long enough to get you through the winter.
If you envision your garden as one whole garden ecosystem, squash can also play the role of a ground cover and help keep weeds at bay because of their long vining stems and large umbrella-like leaves.
Beans are a staple in my home and they should be in yours too. Depending on your preference you have plenty of varieties to choose from. My favorite varieties are Provider, Roma, and Blue Lake.
Beans are also a part of the legume family making them incredibly important for the health of your soil.
In a process known as nitrogen fixation, legumes have the incredible ability to take nitrogen out of the air and put it into the soil. Because nitrogen is not readily available in the soil, this process becomes crucial for the health and wellness of all other plants in your garden.
Corn is an incredibly versatile crop and a must-have in your seed library. Not only is it delicious all on its own, but it can also be turned into so many different food products.
You might even consider planting your corn, beans, and squash together. This trio is known as The Three Sisters because they all work together and benefit one another.
Because of its height, corn works as a sort of natural trellis for pole beans. The squash does what I mentioned earlier and keeps the weeds at bay and preserves moisture in the soil. And the beans do their part by fixing the nitrogen back into the soil.
Kale is one of my all-time favorite plants to grow because it’s so easy, delicious, and chock full of nutrients. Once you start harvesting leaves from your kale plant, it will continue to grow more for you to keep coming back to.
It’s also a cool season crop meaning you’ll be able to harvest kale before most other crops in the spring and after most of your summer crops have finished in the fall.
You have lots of options when it comes to kale varieties but my personal favorites are Red Russian, Siberian, Tuscan, and Winterbor.
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Seeds from root crops like carrots are essential for stockpiling because of their long shelf life. More info on carrot storage can be found here.
They can also be overwintered in the ground and harvested in the springtime. Some people even claim that this cold season spent in the ground is the key to having deliciously sweet carrots.
Carrot tops are also edible, giving you a great leafy green alternative if you start to get tired of all the kale. Carrot top pesto is a yummy go-to.
Another great root vegetable to keep seeds on hand for is radishes. They are great vegetables to grow when you need something quick. Radishes can reach full maturity in as soon as 22 days but generally are ready in about a month.
Radishes are also great if you’re working with a smaller space because they can be planted a lot closer together than most other vegetables.
You can also plant radishes pretty much year-round. As long as the weather is warm, they can be planted outside. Check out this article for more info on growing radishes in the summer.
In the winter, you can plant radish seeds inside next to windows that get good sunlight. You won’t get the classic radish root you would get if they were growing outside, but you can harvest the greens as a delicious microgreen treat.
A garden is never complete without at least one tomato plant. These beautiful and delicious fruits are a fan favorite for most people and are easy to save seeds from, ensuring you have tomatoes for years to come.
And if you’re working with limited space, tomatoes can be planted in containers or even hanging upside down from the porch.
Tomatoes are also great for preservation as they can be canned or processed into other yummy foods like tomato soup or sauce.
Garlic is a great option for stockpiling if you’re looking for a good flavorful and hearty vegetable to include in your garden. Garlic comes in hardneck and softneck varieties both with their advantages and disadvantages.
This article will help you decide which garlic variety is the best for your garden.
Although it’s not the garlic seeds you should be saving but the cloves as this is what will get planted. Each new garlic clove you plant has the potential to grow into an entirely new head of garlic.
Depending on how much garlic you consume, simply planting 5 or 6 cloves could potentially give you enough garlic to last for months.
Garlic is also another one of those plants that can be planted in the fall, overwintered, and harvested in early summer. This is convenient because once you get them planted and established, you can pretty much forget about them for the winter.
Let’s not forget to mention all of the incredible medicinal benefits of garlic as well. Garlic has been known to be an immune booster as well as reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Wildflower seeds are something I feel that not many people would consider stockpiling. But here’s why I would.
Most of the vegetables you grow in your garden will not be able to fruit without the help of pollinators. While the flowers of vegetables alone can attract some pollinators, you can never have too many.
To ensure a healthy garden ecosystem, plant some native wildflowers like echinacea, yarrow, asters, or milkweed. Your whole garden will benefit from this. And, if nothing else, they add some color to your garden.
10. Medicinal Herbs
Other seeds that I think many people might not think about are those from medicinal herbs. While all of the vegetables I’ve mentioned thus far have some level of medicinal properties, here are some more unconventional plants that I think are worth stockpiling.
- Tulsi- Also known as Holy Basil, this herb is just a great, well-rounded, health booster. Tulsi can boost your immune system, reduce fevers, and lower blood pressure. I prefer to drink Tulsi as a tea but it can also be used in salves or tinctures.
- Plantain- Not to be confused with plantain fruit, this leafy herb is great for topical wound care. It’s perfect to add to a healing salve.
- Jewelweed- This is a great natural antihistamine and can be used to help treat allergic reactions to things like poison ivy or bug bites.
- Calendula- This bright yellow flower is another great, well-rounded health booster that can be eaten raw or turned into a tea.
- Mullein- This is one of my favorite herbs that’s known to be great for the respiratory system. Mullein makes a delicious tea.
How long do seeds last?
The longevity of your seeds is heavily dependent on how they are stored. Seeds need to be stored in a cool and dry place so that there is no risk of them growing mold. A cabinet or a closet are great places to store your seeds.
If you’re planning to store seeds that you harvested and saved yourself, make sure they are completely dry before putting them into storage. If you notice any condensation forming inside of your storage containers, then your seeds are not dry enough.
You can place a gel-silica packet in with your seeds to help dry up any excess moisture.
It’s also important to note that garlic has a much shorter storage life than other seeds and will last less than a year. This is because you’re not actually planting garlic seeds but the garlic cloves instead. You’ll want to store just enough cloves to eat and plant again in the following season.
A note on preserving food from the garden
Food preservation is a crucial part of being self-sufficient. In the colder months of the year when there’s not much growing in the garden, we still need to eat!
Preserving food through canning, dehydrating, fermenting, or freezing are great ways to ensure that you have access to healthy garden produce year-round and that you don’t have to always rely on the grocery store.
Now that you know what seeds you need to stock up on in your seed library, you’re well on your way to becoming completely self-sufficient. Just remember to store your seeds properly to ensure longevity and consider preserving your garden harvests as a backup as well.
Hopefully, you’re not too worried about the state of the world and this article gave you some helpful advice about where to start on your self-sufficiency journey. Keeping a surplus of seeds for the crops mentioned above is the first step in making sure you have access to fresh food, no matter the situation.
Check out these must-have gardening products
You don’t need much to start gardening, but some tools and products will make a difference in how comfortable and effective gardening can be for you. Here are my favorites:
- Garden Trowel. A good garden trowel will last you many years. I love how sturdy this hand trowel from WOLF-Garten is, the metal doesn’t bend and it has a nice grip.
- Trimming Scissors. I use them for delicate pruning and harvesting all summer long, and they’re super handy. These Teflon Trimming Scissors are extra nice because they don’t rust as easily.
- Dutch Hoe. Dutch hoes may seem old-fashioned, but there’s nothing like a quick sweep through the topsoil to get rid of small weeds – no bending required. I love WOLF-Garten’s selection: this dutch hoe coupled with their universal handle.
- Grow Lights. These grow lights from Mars Hydro are super strong, yet dimmable, so they fit every stage of growth. They don’t put out too much heat and are very economical.
- Seedling Trays. There’s an art to choosing the best size for seedling trays so that it holds the perfect amount of water and gives the roots enough room to grow. These germination plugs are perfect when coupled with 1020 bottom trays.
- Liquid Fertilizer. You’ll need to feed your plants from the seedling stage, all the way to fruiting. This organic fish & seaweed blend is a very versatile option. Use it half-strength for young plants and full-strength for established plants.
Browse our list of tools, fertilizers & pesticides, indoor growing products and seed shop recommendations – we hope you find our selection useful and it saves you some time!