Canned Garden Seeds: Peace of Mind or Waste of Money?

Approx Reading Time: 4 minutes

Growing a survival garden can make all the difference when it comes to surviving really tough times. Canned garden seeds or seed vaults are marketed to preppers and are frequently found in prepper caches of emergency supplies.

Can commercially canned garden seeds be relied on to create a survival garden when it really matters? Garden seeds packaged for long term storage can be a wonderful asset in a prepper arsenal to grow fresh food during hard times.

We want to determine if the can of garden seeds that we stored 8 years ago “just-in-case” can really produce a survival garden that can feed our family. It is early March and we have accepted the challenge to grow a survival garden using our can of survival garden seeds without a rototiller, pesticides, or fertilizers.

In this post, we will take you on our journey and show you exactly how our garden adventure progresses through the season. We will be updating this post and producing YouTube videos along the way.

Now let’s review a few important basics.

Which Variety of Seeds is Best for a Survival Garden?

The best seeds to plant in a survival garden are heirloom and non-hybrid, open-pollinated seeds. If you are growing a survival garden, you aren’t going to be able to run to the garden shop and purchase new seeds every year. You will need to learn how to save seeds and use those seeds for your future crops.

Hybrid seeds can produce beautiful vegetables. However, if you save seed from a hybrid pumpkin the next season you may get an inedible gourd. The seeds saved from a non-hybrid pumpkin will produce a pumpkin just like the parent.

What are Heirloom Seeds?

Heirloom seeds will produce offspring true to the parent plant. These are seeds that have been passed down through the generations. These seeds are valuable because of hardiness or adaptability. They may be incredibly productive or absolutely delicious.

Non-Hybrid (Open-Pollinated) Seeds

Seeds from an open-pollinated plant can be saved and replanted year after year and will produce a quality plant that is like the parent plant. These seeds make it possible to grow a sustainable garden.

What are Hybrid Seeds?

Hybrid seeds have been artificially cross-pollinated to produce a plant with a unique characteristic. Hybrid corn seeds are an example of a seed that produces a better ear with a hybrid seed than a non-hybrid seed.

The problem with hybrid seeds is that the next generation is not true to the parent plant. That means that you can’t produce the same plant through saving seeds. Hybrid seeds are not good candidates for a survival garden because they are a “one-time-only” plant.

What is the Best Way to Store Seeds for a Survival Garden?

Ideal conditions for long term seed storage are cold, dark and dry. Typically, you can count on stored seeds to maintain a high rate of germination for about 4-5 years. The shelf life will vary depending on the seed variety.

Garden seeds should be stored between 65-70°F to obtain that average shelf life. However, every 5-6°F drop in storage temperature has the potential to double the shelf life of the seeds. That means that, theoretically, if you store your seeds in a 45°F root cellar in a sealed container they may stay viable for a very long time.

Seed banks freeze seeds and are able to get an indefinite shelf life.  

What to Look for in a Quality Storage Seed Bank Vault

Seeds are alive and need oxygen to survive. There should never be an oxygen absorber in a storage seed can. Seed banks or vaults can also be stored in a plastic bucket. The goal is to protect the seeds from the outside environment.

Ideally, the seeds should be in individual seed packets with planting instructions printed on the label. It’s a good idea for the skilled gardener as well as the newbie. When your life depends on your ability to produce a crop, written instructions are welcome.

Our Seed Can Survival Garden

We purchased a can of non-hybrid garden seeds packaged by Grandma’s Country Foods back in 2011 that was packaged for use in 2012. We came across it in our storage room and decided that this is the perfect time to see if these seeds will really grow a survival garden.

Check out our video.

We will keep you posted as the summer progresses. Now would be a really good time to start learning how to grow your own garden.

Thanks for being part of the solution!

Jonathan and Kylene Jones


Kylene Jones is a blogger, content creator, published author, motivational speaker, homesteader, prepper, mother, and grandmother. She practices self-reliance, provident living, and emergency preparedness in her everyday life. She loves working with her husband, Jonathan, and is committed to helping our community be prepared to thrive during the challenges that lie in our future.