Since food acquisition is one of the never-ending chores in any realm of survival, growing your own garden makes a lot of sense as a disaster preparedness strategy. And the ultimate way to a sustainable survival garden is to save your own vegetable seeds from one year to the next. This is best done when you are growing single varieties of each vegetable, to avoid unpredictable results from cross-pollination. Let the veggies mature completely, remove the seeds, and dry them for storage. An easy rule of thumb in seed storage is to add the storage temperature number (in Fahrenheit) to the humidity percentage number. For example, 60 degrees F and 30 percent humidity gives you 90 points. The total of these two numbers should always be below 100 points. Lean toward the dryer side in storage, and your seeds will sleep happily for years. These steps should get you well on your way to being a seed saving savant.

Store them dry
Seeds will go bad if they become damp. Use a watertight container and some desiccant packs to soak up the stray moisture in the seeds and packaging. These packs can be repurposed silica gel packs that are used in shoe packaging, vitamin bottles and other retail application.

Store them cool
Someplace cool is an ideal place to store your seeds for the long haul. Many folks use their refrigerator for this task. Just be careful when you take the seeds out of this cold storage, as they have a tendency to sweat a little.

Store them dark
Some seeds are light sensitive, and will not last as long if they are exposed to bright light. Most storage methods for “dry and cool” will also keep them dark, but just to make sure, consider a container that will eliminate light as well as moisture.

And if you’re just starting out with seed saving, it’s important to know that all seeds don’t store equally. Some plants produce seeds with a very high germination rate (nearly all of the seeds sprout under the right germination conditions), while others may not sprout well. Avoid beginner’s disappointment by focusing on the easy ones and skipping the seeds that are difficult to grow. Parsnips, parsley, celery, okra, New Zealand spinach, and Swiss chard regularly have low germination rates and may not be worth the bother of trying to save them. But if you do decide to save these seeds, save extra. This will make up for the ones that don’t sprout. And if you really want to make it easy on yourself, save the seeds of plants that have a high germination rate. Cucumber, squash relatives, lettuce, beans, peas, corn and melons are very forgiving seed to save.

Are you a seed saver? Let’s hear about your favorite varieties and how you store them in the comments.