Whether we’ve been gardening for years or learning how to Guerilla Garden more recently, we’re at a point in the US where many feel the need to grow at least some of their own food. For most of us, just the word “shortage” can bring up some powerful emotions, perhaps a bit of fear? anxiety? Or worse, panic? Do you feel like giving up on gardening because you believe there is nothing you can grow without seeds? Let’s dig deeper and investigate what the seed shortage of 2020 really means. Let’s explore what we can do about it because this is about getting-food-on-the-table! I hope you are ready for a FUN challenge!
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There are some lies being perpetuated. But we’re going to speak the truth.
LIE: There are no seeds available.
TRUTH: Seed companies have not been able to keep up with the overwhelming demand for seeds this year.
The seed shortage is real, and it is a simple case of supply and demand. Seed companies, like all other businesses, base their expected future sales on averages of sales from past years to help determine how much inventory they anticipate will be needed for the upcoming season. Since seed companies prepare more than a year ahead, there is no way anyone could have predicted that COVID-19 was going to hit and skyrocket the demand for seeds. It is important to remember: This is only a TEMPORARY setback!
Now that the demand for seeds is higher, companies and individuals will begin to save more seeds to meet consumer demand. The bad news is, it might take a year or so to “get back to normal” and adjust to the increased demand. There **will** be seeds available, it just might be a bit tricky to find a specific variety for a little while.
So, we have a big question—What are we going to do about it? Well, we are going to get creative and find seeds! This is going to be a challenge. But I hope you will choose to make it fun, like going on a treasure hunt! I need you to shift gears a bit, I want you to focus on our mission, which is to save seeds for our future. In the past, we’ve been all about growing the biggest, get-food-on-the-table harvest, but today we will take a step back, and focus on seed saving to prepare for our future, because the tortoise wins in the end, right?
Seed Shortage Challenge#1
Learn how to save seeds. Any time spent on learning how to save seeds will give back more seeds than you can possibly plant in your lifetime. My favorite, hands-down winner of a reference guide is “Seed to Seed” by Suzanne Ashworth. My copy was published in 2002 and it has paid for itself many times over. This book will teach you how to properly gather and prepare seeds for storage. This is an absolute must for your prepping library.
Seed Shortage tip #1
Choose your sacrificial fruit wisely. For example, tomatoes– choose the most beautifully-perfect tomato from your entire plant, even if a worm has chewed on part of it, it’s still a great choice for saving seeds for next year. You don’t want to save the seeds from a sickly tomato because we don’t need sickly tomato plants in our future gardens. Seed saving is a savings account and as we invest those beautifully-perfect seeds, you and your family can enjoy many beautifully-perfect tomatoes in the coming years.
(Your future self will thank you!)
Seed Shortage Tip #2
Let your sacrificial fruits stay on the vine until they are over-ripe, past the point that you want to eat it, but not rotten. Doing so will yield large seeds that are hardy and will give you the best success at growing plants next season.
Saving Problematic Seeds
Start in your own backyard. Look around and see what you can “pay forward” to your future garden. Do you have any herbs that have flowered and “gone to seed”, if so, snip those flowery seeds off, stuff into a paper bag, and let dry? Remember to label them because once they are drying on your dining room table, they all look the same! (Trust me on this: been there, done that.) Transplant something. Even if you don’t want to, please transplant! Divide some of your overgrown herbs and place them into pots to bring in the house over the winter. Share with a friend or pay-it-forward — put out a curb alert on social media and share your bounty with a total stranger! Got Flowers? Marigolds, zinnias, cosmos, sunflowers, or hundreds of other varieties? Even if these always re-seed for you, pick off a few dried flowers anyway and save them to share with someone.
Back to the garden – cucumbers, and tomatoes – these seeds need to be fermented before storing. Simply put the seeds in a bowl of water to break down the slick coating for a few days until a white film forms at the surface, then rinse well and place on a paper towel until dry and you are ready to store. I like to store my seeds in snack-size plastic baggies, as paper envelopes can absorb moisture and ruin the seeds.
My Melon Story
Last spring I purchased Kajari melon seeds. I was super excited, as this was my first time growing them. I only planted 5 seeds, but they grew quickly and soon began to sprout softball-size melons—they are so good! Below you will find a picture of the seeds that I was able to harvest from ONE single melon. Beyond that one melon, one Kajari plant has over a dozen melons on one single plant! One tiny seed has the potential for thousands of Kajari melon plants! How cool is that? Now you understand why I say there isn’t a shortage of seeds, there is a shortage of SAVED SEEDS. We must band together to collect, save, and share the seeds!! If every gardener would save their seeds and share with others, we could go from the Seed Shortage to the Seed Abundance in a very short period of time!
What About You?
Have you ever saved seeds before? Do you know about any good seed exchanges? Are there any other creative ways of which you are aware that people can obtain seeds? Share with us in the comments below so that we can all be better prepared!
Together lets Love, Learn, Practice, and Overcome.
…Americans started buying 3M N95 masks in mid-January, then non-perishables in February, followed by toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and guns.
Now apparently, plant seeds are the next big thing…
Seed companies who spoke with CBS News said they have stopped taking new orders after unprecedented demand. George Ball, chairman of Pennsylvania-based Burpee Seeds, said the recent increase in new orders is “just unbelievable.” The company will start accepting orders again on Wednesday after it stopped taking new ones for several days to catch up on the backlog.
Americans in quarantine are becoming increasingly concerned about their food security. What has shocked many is that food on supermarket shelves that existed one day, could be completely wiped out in minutes via panic hoarding. Some people are now trying to restore the comfort of food security by planting “Pandemic Gardens.”
“If I had to put my thumb on it, I would say people are worried about their food security right now,” said Emily Rose Haga, the executive director of the Seed Savers Exchange, an Iowa-based nonprofit devoted to heirloom seeds.
“A lot of folks even in our region are putting orders into their grocery stores and having to wait a week to get their groceries. Our society has never experienced a disruption like this in our lifetime.”
One of the most significant trends besides a crashed economy and high unemployment is that tens of thousands of Americans, mainly of the working poor, who just lost their jobs, are ending up at food banks. These facilities have reported surging demand, as a hunger crisis unfolds.
Today’s economic, health, and social crisis has made people realize that relying on supermarkets for food is not a safe bet. Some are now reverting to the land for survival.
Seed Savers Exchange noticed a surge in seed demand started in mid-March, the same time lockdowns across the country went into effect. The nonprofit has also halted new orders to catch up on the backlog.
“We received twice the amount of orders we normally receive,” the company said, adding it has had to hire more staff to deal with rising seed demand.
With America at war with coronavirus, the “Victory Gardens” our ancestors planted in WWI & II have now morphed into Pandemic Gardens. The surge in seed demand suggests a new trend of the 2020s is developing, one where reliance on corporations and government for survival are coming to an end for some people, as rural communities and living off the land is the safest bet in times of crisis…