Heirloom Seeds for Survival

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Heirloom Seeds In yesterday’s post we discussed why survival seed saving ideas are something we should all give serious thought too. Today we are going to focus on identifying heirloom seeds. The various labels attached to seed packages in the commercial seed selling industry can be somewhat confusing, or misleading. In fact, some of the larger seed selling companies advertise both hybrid and heirloom seeds, that are certified as being “organic.”

There are significant differences between hybrid and heirloom seeds, and just because something is labeled as ‘organic,’ doesn’t necessarily mean it’s healthier for you. Complicating matters even more is the introduction of GMO’s to the national food supply chain. Aside from seeds harvested from wild edibles, authentic heirloom seeds are our best choice for growing healthy crops, both now and in the future. With that in mind, let’s take a look at how heirloom seeds differ from hybrid seeds, and what an ‘organic’ label means in the world of advertising.


“An heirloom seed, therefore, is seed from a plant that has been passed from one generation to another, carefully grown and saved because it is considered valuable. The value could lie in its flavor, productivity, hardiness or adaptability. Many heirlooms have been grown, saved and passed down for more than 100 years. Some have history reaching back 300 years or more.”

According to this definition, heirloom seeds are those that have been harvested, stored and passed down without the addition of harmful pesticides, additives or scientifically modified genetic mutations introduced by man.


“A hybrid seed is produced by artificially cross pollinating two genetically different plants of the same species, such as two different tomatoes or two varieties of corn. The cross pollination is done by hand, and a seed that is saved will not grow true to either parent. Thus the farmer or gardener has no choice but to purchase new seed each year.”

As we can see, hybrid seeds are a single season solution. They will not reproduce viable seeds to harvest for the following grow season. Heirloom seeds, on the other hand, can be successfully harvested year after year, producing an endless supply of the essential ingredients to promote healthy farming. The benefits of heirloom seeds over hybrid varieties is obvious for survivalists and preppers.


“Genetically Modified Organisms or GMO seed have been altered using DNA from completely different species and organisms to give different traits such as resistance to herbicides and acceptance of chemical fertilizers. Some GMO corn, for instance, manufactures its own herbicide in its root structure. Some DNA donors have come from fish, frogs and bacteria. The major crops that are genetically modified are corn, cotton, soybeans and wheat. Sugar beets and alfalfa have recently been deregulated, and potatoes are being studied.”

If that isn’t enough to scare you back into the Stone Age, studies indicate these seeds and the produce they provide are harmful to humans. GMO crops have been banned in several other countries, and the push to rid America of these harmful solutions is underway. Heirloom seeds give us the ability to remove federally supported pesticide filled food programs.


“Organic certification is the process of certifying a crop grown to a strict uniform set of standards. The USDA sets the standards, and the criteria for meeting those standards. The certifying agency such as Oregon Tilth, CCOF, QAI and OCAI verifies that the grower is meeting the standards set by the USDA. In short, “organic” means only that a crop was grown to a specific set of standards.”

Basically what this means is that GMO and hybrid seed crops, and their produce yield, can be labeled as organic, simply for meeting the standards set by the USDA. It doesn’t mean that those standards are healthy for human beings. Heirloom seeds remove any doubt, by placing the sole responsibility for cultivation firmly in the hands of the farmer sowing the heirloom seeds, raising the crops and harvesting the yield.

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    Matt2 years ago

    Hello Kevin,

    Thanx for sharing! You have lightly touched on some good basic information for our readers and I realize on this site we can’t go into the depth we’d like. However, a very important note to comment on is the fact heirlooms do not produce a high yield and they have a very short growing season. Don’t get me wrong, I’m anti GMO and I’m very involved with food politics and detest the direction our food supply is taking. Yet, as wonderful as heirloom cultivation is there are limitations when in survival mode. Heirlooms are more sensitive to disease, fungus and predatory insects and if not indigenous to the local geography they generally do not do well. Hybrids are more resistant to disease, fungus, have longer growing seasons, higher yeilds and not as sensitive to climatic changes. It’s best to take from both for your survival package to be complete. We’re members of the largest heirloom organization and we do grow many specialty crops on our farm along with practicing bio-diversity methods which far exceed organic certification.

    Thanx for sharing your thoughts,


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