By Angie Sullivan Storing and planting garden seeds is a great way to reap the benefits of gardening now, and in the future! I decided we would take a small detour on our journey to preparedness to talk about something that is probably on many minds this time of year, gardening. I know what you are thinking-what does gardening have to do with preparedness? When land is available, one of the best ways to keep fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet during an emergency is by growing them in your own garden. A garden adds nutrition and variety to your food storage. Let’s talk a little about storing and planting garden seeds and you’ll see! Storing Garden Seeds Non-hybrid, open pollinating seeds are the best type to store when purchasing storage seeds. These types of seeds can be planted and their seeds can be collected at the end of the season for a future garden. Most seeds purchased today are hybrid seeds and cannot produce more plants. That is why choosing “non-hybrid” seed is so important. Remember the old adage, “You can count the seeds in an apple, but you cannot count the apples in a seed”. The Garden Seeds available from Emergency Essentials are non-hybrid, open pollinating and include packets of several different vegetables. Each packet of seeds is foil lined, and the seeds are sealed in a #10 can. Garden seeds should be stored in a cool and dry environment, sealed tightly to avoid moisture. Each of these cans have enough seeds to produce a vegetable garden up to two thirds of an acre! Planning Your Garden Draw a garden plan. This will help you decide what to plant where, and will help when you rotate the next year. Use whatever space you have available, but remember that your garden should have at least 4-6 hours of full sunshine every day. The soil should be able to drain well. If you are using planters or window boxes, be sure to allow holes for drainage. Fertilize the soil by adding fertilizer before tilling. Continue to fertilize throughout the growing season. Plant a good variety, remembering that different colored vegetables yield different nutrients. Try planting a “rainbow” of colors to get the most vitamin variety. How To Plant A good general rule is to plant seeds at a depth of three times the diameter of the seeds. Fine seeds should be scattered on top of the soil and pressed down lightly. Climbing plants such as tomatoes, peas, and beans should be planted near stakes or trellises. Allow yourself room to move around and weed between the plants. Saving Seeds Saving your own seeds may seem time consuming, but when you replant your own seeds, they usually yield plants better suited to your soil and climate! After planting, keep track of the healthiest non-hybrid, self-pollinating plants. Once the seeds have been collected, they need to be dried thoroughly before storing them. Excess moisture can cause the seeds to mold and rot. Use a fine screen or a sheet of plastic or glass to dry the seeds on. Dry the seeds in a warm place, out of direct sunlight. Seeds that are dried can be stored in small pill bottles, small envelopes, and other small containers. Label each packet well and add any relevant information. Then, store these in a cool, dry place. If you use envelopes, you might want to seal those envelopes in a jar with an airtight seal to keep out any additional moisture. Sprouting Seeds There are times when your family needs nourishing vegetables immediately in an emergency. Waiting months to harvest a garden may not be feasible. A fast and easy way to obtain nutrients is through sprouting! Sprouting is simple, and there are kits available to aid you in the process, or you can use items you Replace around the house. Good sprouting seeds are alfalfa, mung beans, triticale, soy beans, lentils, whole peas, adzuki beans, clover, garbanzo beans, rye, wheat, beans, rice, and oats. The last five seeds listed will sprout in only two days! The rest will sprout in three to five days. Have you enjoyed our small detour? Hopefully you are inspired to add a very important item to your food storage supply, garden seeds. Reap the rewards of gardening and add variety and nutrition to your food storage plan at the same time!