How to Plant and Grow Zinnia Flowers Posted on 25 Jan 04:35 , 0 comments

These beauties are a favorite in our Pollinator Gardens.

Zinnia flowers are an annual, so they’ll grow for one season and produce seeds, but the original plant will not come back in subsequent years.


Zinnia flowers (Zinnia elegans) are a colorful and long lasting addition to the flower garden. They're also great as a cut flower!

I found that our Zinnia flowers really attracted Bumble Bees and Butterflies. There were so many butterflies this year!


Growing Zinnia Flower from Seed

Zinnia Flowers are possibly one of the easiest to grow from seed.

Zinnias grow and flower best in full sun. They can flower in part shade, especially in warmer climates with afternoon shade, but they may be more susceptible to disease and have fewer flowers.

Plant zinnia seeds 6-8 inches apart in rows or clumps. Sow seeds approx 1/4 inch deep in the ground or container.

Keep the soil moist but not waterlogged. Zinnia seeds usually germinate in 4 to 7 days.

Zinnia plants do not always transplant well and sometimes become stunted or do not thrive. If you choose to transplant, it is recommended that you do so early and with care.

After zinnias flower, cut off the old flowers (a process called “deadheading”) to encourage more flowers to form.

Under optimal conditions, Zinnias generally take 60 to 70 days from seed to flower.

Ready to plant Zinnia Flower seeds? We offer a few different varieties at Mary's Heirloom Seeds.


If you have additional questions, please feel free to ask!


Growing Borage from Seed to Harvest Posted on 13 Jan 04:01 , 3 comments

January is Plant for Pollinators month at Mary's Heirloom Seeds so this how-to article is just in time! Borage (Borago officinalis) is an amazing plant to grow in your garden to attract pollinators.

Borage plants can grow up to three feet tall, producing gorgeous blooms.

The flavor of Borage is similar to a cucumber.  Borage has bright blue, star-shaped flowers that explode in a blue profusion all summer attracting honey bees.  The flowers and young leaves may be used to garnish salads, dips and cucumber soups.

Borage is also a companion plant for Tomatoes, Peppers, Squash, Strawberries and more.


Growing Borage from Seed

Borage is a hardy annual, which means that the plant will die in a frost . A word of caution, if you let Borage mature to produce seeds, you will have LOTS of borage next year.

Borage plants produce the most flowers in full sun, but they can also tolerate partial shade. Choose a planting area that gets at least six hours of sunlight per day for best results.

Sow seeds 1/2 in deep in moist, well draining soil. Water regularly so the area does not dry out.

If you have a container garden, Borage should be planted in a container that is 12 inches deep or more.

This hardy plant can thrive in hot and cool weather so it's prefect for just about every garden zone.


Companion Planting with Borage

Companion plant. Companion planting borage next to strawberries and tomatoes can increase their fruit yield, while also fending off tomato hornworms. Borage attracts beneficial insects, pollinators like honeybees, bumblebees, and butterflies, while also serving as a deterrent to cabbage moths.



Harvesting Borage

As we mentioned early, Borage can easily go to seed and "pop up" next year in your garden. Remove flower heads towards the end of their lifecycle to prevent self-seeding. 

Both the flowers and the leaves are edible. Smaller leaves are my favorite as the larger leaves can be prickly.

The gorgeous flowers make an excellent garnish for baked good and savory dishes.

If you end up with LOTS of Borage, you can feed some to livestock or even make a fertilizer tea. Yes, that's a 5 gallon bucket of borage leaves! Our chickens love it!

I use scissors to clip off flowers and leaves. It's easy to collect them in a bowl or bucket. The larger leaves can be prickly so it would be a good idea to wear gloves when working with Borage.

Borage is a hardy annual, which means that the plant will die in a frost, but the seeds can survive in the frozen ground.

Read more at Gardening Know How: Borage Seed Growing – How To Plant

If you have additional questions, please feel free to ask!


A Growing List of Herb Seeds to Stratify Posted on 30 Dec 14:18 , 0 comments

In our article The Wonder of Seeds and Germination we discussed the different environmental needs of some seeds. In this article, we will share a more in depth look at Cold Stratification as well as specific varieties that should be stratified for optimal germination.

In nature, seeds require certain conditions in order to germinate. Seed stratification is the process where seed dormancy is broken in order to germinate. In order for the stratification of seeds to be successful, we create an environment to mimic the natural cycle. For cold stratification, we use coconut coir or sand, water and refrigerate.

Winter Sowing is the natural germination process. For this article, we are re-creating that environment in 4-6 weeks instead of several months.

At the bottom of the list, we've copied the instructions we originally shared in The Wonder of Seeds and Germination.



Anise Hyssop



Bergamot / Beebalm


Butterfly Weed







Larkspur / Delphinium


Lemon Balm



Mountain Mint (L)






Saint John's Wort

Self Heal


Stinging Nettles




Wild Strawberry



Cold stratification is an extremely easy process and once you’ve done it once, you’ll no doubt get the hang of it. The time you need to keep your seeds in the refrigerator depends on the variety, but 4-5 weeks should be a sufficient amount of time for most seed varieties.

Once there’s no more chance of frost in your area, take your seeds out of the fridge and plant as normal. The simple, quick process of cold stratification helps the seed germinate quicker and grow more readily in your garden bed.


DIY Cold Stratification

Coconut Coir or Sand & Water

  1. Place a 1/4 cup of coconut coir sand (or more) in a mixing bowl. Slowly add water until you can form a ball with the sand/water mixture.
  2. Add your desired seed amount to the sand. Mix thoroughly.
  3. Place sand/seed mixture in a ziploc bag or container and seal.
  4. Label the variety and date clearly on the bag.
  5. Place in the refrigerator for 4-6 weeks before planting. If seedlings start to sprout in the bag in the refrigerator, remove immediately and either plant in the ground or in pots until it’s time to plant outdoors.
If you have additional questions, please feel free to ask!


Growing Rosemary from Seed to Harvest Posted on 18 Dec 05:53 , 0 comments

Rosemary is one of my favorite culinary herbs. Growing Rosemary from seed can be a bit tricky but it's definitely a worthwhile endeavor.


Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is a perennial herb native to the Mediterranean region. The leaf and its oil are commonly used in food and also to make medicine.

This herb can be grown outdoors as a perennial shrub in Zones 7 and warmer. In colder areas, it should be kept in a pot and brought indoors for the winter.


Growing Rosemary from Seed

Like many herbs and flowers, rosemary seeds benefit from cold stratification. You can read more in our article The Wonder of Seeds and Germination.

Cold Stratification simulates a brief winter dormancy that the seeds would otherwise experience if they had been grown in the wild.

Sow seeds indoors in mid-February to April and transplant or direct sow into the garden in May. When planting seeds, barely cover them with a seed starting mix and apply bottom heat.

Germination is notoriously low, so plant more seeds than needed.

Rosemary should be grown in a pot that can be brought indoors during the winter if winters are harsh in your zone (or in an area that can be covered and protected). Outdoors, rosemary can tolerate temperatures as low as 15 degrees.

If growing rosemary in containers, provide monthly feedings of liquid fertilizer. Keep watered in hot weather.

Plant Rosemary in full sun. For optimal growth, plant in well drained soil as Rosemary does not tolerate consistently wet/soggy soil.

Choose a garden spot with plenty of room to grow. Once established, Rosemary can grow 5 feet tall and even 4 feet wide. This is a gorgeous perennial that will continue to produce for many years with adequate care

Companion Planting

Rosemary is a good companion for beans, Brassicas, and carrots.

Harvesting Rosemary

To harvest rosemary, pull individual leaves off the plant or cut entire stems. Use a sharp knife to harvest the rosemary, as scissors may damage plant tissues. Rosemary is also often used dried. To dry rosemary, hang bunches of the plant upside down on a rack. Strip the leaves from the stems once the stems are dry. Prune the rosemary heavily in the early spring before new growth begins.

Store fully dry Rosemary in a labelled container.


If you have additional questions, please feel free to ask!


Why Start Herbs from Seed? Posted on 14 Dec 15:27 , 0 comments

In case you're wondering about the benefits of starting your own herbs from seeds, this might help you decide.

Sure, you can go to the local nursery and pick out a few herbs for your garden, but do you know how they were grown and if the label is actually correct?

Growing your own herbs from seed means knowing exactly how they are cared for from seed to harvest. You can decide to grow them organically, which is a healthier option for you and your garden.

Have you ever noticed the selection at most garden centers is mostly the same every year? Growing your own herbs from seed means a larger selection to choose from and grow in your own garden. If you like Basil, we currently carry 15 different varieties!

Growing your own herbs from seed can be much less expensive than buying starts. Depending on the seed pack, you can expect to spend $1-4 per pack for 20-250 seeds. That's a lot of plants per pack! At a nursery, you can usually expect to pay between $1 and $10 per plant. As an added bonus, if you don't use all of the seeds in each pack the first year, you can always use the leftovers next year is you store your seeds properly. You can do the math but that adds up to a huge savings if you grow your own herbs from seed.

Medicinal Herbs are very popular with our customers. We offer quite a few unique varieties that you probably won't find in a nursery. Toothache plant for example is a fantastic, easy to grow from seed variety. Toothache plant is not only a medicinal plant but it's a beautiful addition to any garden. German Chamomile is another great medicinal herb that can be easy to grow under the right conditions.

Growing Herbs from Seed takes a little more effort and timing but the benefits are awesome!

Herb and vegetable gardens begin with healthy soil and receive 6 to 8 hours of sun daily. Choose a sunny spot with well-drained soil. Some herbs do better when they are sown directly into the garden. These include borage, chervil, coriander, dill, and fennel. Other varieties do well when started indoors 4 to 6 weeks before your last frost. This can give them a head start especially if you have a shorter growing season.

If you have additional questions, please feel free to ask!


Growing Seminole Pumpkin from Seed to Harvest Posted on 10 Dec 03:05 , 0 comments

Seminole Pumpkins are a Florida native variety grown by Native American tribes for hundreds of years.

The shapes and sizes can vary. Some look like a traditional pumpkin, others can resemble a gourd "tear drop" shape, and other shapes resembling a butternut squash.

Seminole Pumpkin is prized for it's heat tolerance and pest resistance. From seed to harvest, Seminole pumpkins take 90 to 130 days to mature.


Planting Seminole Pumpkin Seeds

Direct sow: Plant seeds after your last frost date when soil is warm.

Indoor sow: Plant seeds 2 weeks before your last frost date and transplant within 3 weeks.

Plant seeds 1/2 to 1 inch deep. Pumpkins do well in "mounds" of well amended soil (compost, worm castings, aged manure, coconut coir). Plant in a spot that receives plenty of sun and will receive plenty of water.

From UF, The Seminole people gave the name "Chassahowitza" to a region on the gulf in Southwest Florida. The name means "pumpkin hanging place."

Seminole Pumpkin plants can climb up trees, fences and trellis. If grown on the ground, Seminole Pumpkin plants can easily grow 25 feet long.


Companion Plants for Pumpkins

Pumpkin pals are corn, melon and squash. Marigold deters beetles. Nasturtium deters bugs, beetles. Oregano provides general pest protection. Dill may help repel those frustrating squash bugs. 


Seminole Pumpkin Plant Care

Pumpkins require pollination of the female flowers to produce fruit. It is recommended to encourage pollinators to your garden by planting flowers nearby. Nasturtiums, Marigolds and Sunflowers are easy to grow and will attract a variety of pollinators to your garden.


Seminole Pumpkins are naturally adapted to HOT, humid climates but require plenty of water. If you are growing in an arid climate, you will need to water regularly.

If you have struggled with pests in your pumpkin patch, I highly recommend trying Seminole Pumpkin. While not completely immune to pests, this variety seems to be more pest tolerant.


Harvesting Seminole Pumpkins

Growing pumpkins takes a bit of patience. Depending on your region, Seminole pumpkins can take up to 130 days to fully mature.

Once the Seminole pumpkins are mostly orange in color, they are ready to harvest. If stored in a cool, well-ventilated area, the pumpkins can last anywhere between six to twelve months with no effect on the taste or quality.

During our Food Storage Prepping in the garden series we discussed Pumpkins!


If you have additional questions, please feel free to ask!

Growing Chamomile from Seed to Harvest Posted on 30 Jul 14:07 , 0 comments

Did you know that there are 2 types of Chamomile? The first is Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile) and the other is German chamomile (Matricaria recutita). At Mary's Heirloom Seeds, we carry both and the growing conditions are almost the same.

German Chamomile is the most popular herb used in medicinal teas and tinctures.

Roman Chamomile is a perennial, while German Chamomile is an annual that easily re-seeds.

Roman Chamomile grows like a creeping ground cover while German Chamomile grows up about 1 to 2 feet tall.

Chamomile likes to grow in a semi-shady spot with well-drained soil.


Planting Chamomile Seeds

Chamomile can be started indoors or direct sown. 

Sprinkle seeds lightly over moist soil and gently top with seed starter mix or coconut coir, no more than 1/4 inch deep. Keep soil moist and warm but not waterlogged. Seeds should germinate in 7-14 days.

Once established, Chamomile is a pretty hearty herb that makes a great companion plant. It can also be grown in containers so this is a great plant for just about any gardener.

From seed to harvest, Chamomile can be ready in as few as 8 to 9 weeks. Chamomile can easily re-seed so if you don't want it to spread, harvest often.


Companion Planting with Chamomile

Companion planting with herbs can increase vegetable yields, repel pests, and provide "trap crops" depending on your planting goal. We use companion planting in all of our gardens as our first line of defense.

Are you ready for this awesome list? Chamomile is a companion plant for garden vegetables like cabbage, onions, beans, cucumbers, broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kohlrabi, tomatoes, and potatoes.

Flowers also benefit, such as Bee balm, Phlox, Roses, lilacs, zinnias, petunias, and snapdragons.

Beneficial insects and friendly pollinators are attracted to chamomile while helping to rid your garden of pests and improve pollination. Poor soil is no problem for chamomile, so plant it generously in, around, and near your garden. 


Harvesting Chamomile

Chamomile flowers are ripe when the petals curl back toward the center in late summer or early fall.

Allow flowers to fully dry on a drying rack or screen away from direct sunlight in a well ventilated area. Store fully dry flowers in a labelled container.



If you have additional questions, please feel free to ask!


Growing Acorn Squash from Seed to Harvest Posted on 25 Jul 06:23 , 0 comments

Acorn Squash is a winter squash variety with a tough skin, making it an excellent crop to store for extended periods.

What's the difference between Summer Squash and Winter Squash?
 The physical characteristics between summer and winter squash are stark. Summer squash tend to have very thin skins that are edible and easily damaged. The seeds of summer squash are present in the flesh and are edible raw. The flesh of the summer squash is very tender and very perishable. The skins of winter squash varieties are thick, inedible and tough. Winter squash have hollow cavities in the center where hard seeds are located. The flesh of the winter squash is very dense.

Ebony Squash: Prolific 8' vines produce 1.5-2 pound fruits.

The Table Queen Bush Squash (pictured) is a great option for smaller spaces. As a bonus, it matures faster than it's vining counterparts.

One squash can easily be made into an entire meal for 2!

Planting Acorn Squash Seeds
Direct Sow squash seeds after your last chance of frost.  Soil should be 60F or warmer for optimal germination.  Sow seeds 1/2 -1 inch deep and keep soil moist but not waterlogged.

Vining squash varieties will need more space than bush varieties so plan ahead when planting.  Bush varieties should be planted 20 inches apart, while vining can be planted in hills.

Squash is a heat tolerant crop that can be grown in Spring, Summer and into Fall.  From Seed to harvest, Ebony Acorn Squash can take 80-110 days depending on weather, soil health and variety of squash.

Companion Plants for Acorn Squash

Beans, corn, cucumbers, icicle radishes, melon, mint, onions and pumpkin. Helpers: Borage deters worms, improves growth and flavor. Marigolds deters beetle. Nasturtium can deter squash bugs and beetles.

Oregano provides general pest protection. Dill may repel the squash bug that will kill your squash vines. Generously scatter the dill leaves on your squash plants. Keep squash away from potatoes.

Nasturtium and basil flowers


Harvesting & Storing Acorn Squash

Acorn Squash is ready to be picked when the skin is tough.  You can use a fingernail to test it.

Once your acorn squash has been harvested, store them in a cool, dry area. It will keep for several months if given the right temperatures. Usually this is between 50F and 55F.

We have a delicious harvest recipe for Baked Acorn Squash.  There is a vegetarian and omnivore option.



If you have additional questions, please feel free to ask!


Growing Toothache Plant from Seed to Harvest Posted on 16 Jul 06:34 , 3 comments

Toothache plant is an often overlooked herb.  It is so unique and colorful.

What is Toothache Plant?

Spilanthes oleraces, Toothache Plant, is a medicinal herb that's been used for generations to manage the pain of toothaches. Both the leaves and the colorful flowers can be used.

Toothache plant is a native plant to Brazil and Africa. In warmer climates, Toothache plant is a tender perennial. In areas with frost, grow as an annual.


Growing Toothache Plant from seed

Toothache plant is quite easy to grow and is resistant to disease, insects and even rabbit.

For transplanting: sow seeds indoors 6 weeks before your last frost. Seed should be sown 1/4 inch deep in individual containers to keep from crowding. Keep soil moist but not waterlogged. A heat mat would be helpful if you are starting seeds indoors during winter or early spring.

Direct sow: Plant seeds 1/4 inch deep in well drained soil after your last frost date. Space seeds out approx 6-12 inches apart.

Toothache plant can grow in full sun.


Harvesting Toothache Plant

Both the leaves and the flowers can be harvested from the Toothache Plant. Once the plant reaches 1 foot in height, it should be ok to start harvesting.

Leaves and flowers can be used fresh or dried.  To dry, use a dehydrator or allow to naturally dry in a warm, dry spot with plenty of airflow.

Store fully dried plant matter in an airtight jar and label your container.


If you have additional questions, please feel free to ask!


Growing Okra from Seed to Harvest Posted on 10 Jun 07:45 , 0 comments

Okra is a beautiful, heat loving plant that is oh-so-easy to grow from seed. Fun fact, Okra belongs to the same plant family as hibiscus. Check out the beautiful bloom on this Burgundy Okra below!

Okra is the seed pod of the Abelmoschus esculentus plant. It's filled with tiny white seeds and is sometimes called lady's fingers due to its long, slender, tubelike shape.

Okra is a fruit, though it is eaten as a vegetable. Okra can be cooked whole or sliced and can be prepared in a number of unique ways including frying, grilling, sautéeing, pan-roasting and even pickled.



Growing Okra from Seed

Prior to planting, soak the okra seeds in water for 12 to 18 hours to soften its hard seed coat. Soaking aids moisture absorption and germination.

Sow Okra seeds in warm soil approx 1/2 to 1 inch deep in coconut coir, seed starting medium or directly in the garden. If planting directly in the garden, space seeds 6-12 inches apart.

Okra seeds can germinate in as few as 2 days and as many as 12 days. Soil should be warm and moist but not soggy.

Plant okra in full sun and water regularly, especially during flowering and pod development.


Harvesting Okra

This heat loving crop is ready to harvest in as few as 60 days. Use scissors to harvest Okra pods from the stem. Pulling them off may damage the plant.

Start harvesting a few days after the okra blooms fade. At that point the seed pods should be soft and two to three inches long.  Harvest daily or every other day to avoid woody/tough pods.

Harvesting Okra Seeds

Okra seeds are very easy to harvest.  Very important: harvest seeds from your healthiest plant and make sure the pod is overripe.

Store harvested seeds in envelopes or jars. Label your storage containers with the variety of seeds and date harvested.



Roasted Okra is probably one of the easiest recipes. Roast them whole or slice.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F

Arrange the okra slices in one layer on a foil lined cookie sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. *Add additional spices to your liking* Bake in the preheated oven for 10 to 15 minutes.


If you have additional questions, please feel free to ask!