Sow Basil seeds indoors 2-4 weeks before your first frost day OR sow seeds outside when soil is warm and temperatures do not drop below 65 F during the day. Seeds should be sowed approx 1/4 deep in moist, well-drained soil.
Basil seeds usually germinate in as few as 5-7 days. Make successive sowings of basil seeds for continuous summer harvests.
From seed to harvest, Basil is ready in as few as 45 days. Basil can grow in full sun as as little as 6 hours of sun. Space Basil plants about 12 inches apart or interplant basil between larger plants such as Tomatoes and Peppers.
Water basil when soil is dry to the touch and try to water soil and not leaves. In warmer months, Basil will need more water.
Basil is pretty pest tolerant but you might see the occasional flea beetle marks or leaf miners. Aphids can usually be sprayed of with a water hose.
One healthy, well pruned Basil plant can produce around 1/2 cup of leaves every week. If you're limited on space, there are even dwarf varieties such as Dwarf Greek Basil.
Once mature, harvest basil leaves regularly to promote healthy growth. It is usually recommended to harvest from the top of the plant, using scissors or fingernails. Try to cut as close to the stem as possible.
Pinching off flowers is recommended to keep a continuous harvest all summer long. Flowering is also called "bolting" and the plant will put forth more energy for flower production. If you wish to save the seeds, allow your plants to bolt.
Victory Gardens are making a comeback with an emphasis on sustainable food. Starting a garden is always a great idea so we have a few tips below.
During World War I, Victory Gardens began in backyards, empty lots and whatever space people could find as Americans were called to grow food. Food production had fallen dramatically as agricultural labor joined the military service.
During World War II, the victory garden movement resurfaced. Eleanor Roosevelt planted a victory garden on the White House lawn and Americans were encouraged to “Sow the Seeds of Victory.”
At its peak, it is estimated that nearly 20,000,000 gardens were grown and about 40 percent of all vegetables produced in the U.S. came from Victory Gardens.
Growing from seeds allows you to choose unique varieties and grow them according to your area. Choosing heirloom seeds will give the opportunity to save seeds from your harvest to grow more food in the future. Growing from seed and then saving seeds is like printing your own money (only better because you can't eat money)
If this is your first time growing a garden, you might consider easier varieties to grow from seed. EASY CROPS to grow that do not require much space or heavy nutrients include
Purple Orach is a new one and it's such an exciting variety!!!
45 days from seed
Also known as Mountain spinach, French spinach, Giant Lambs quarters. Touted as a warm-season alternative to spinach, orach is actually a cool-season plant that just doesn't go to seed (bolt) as quickly as spinach. Harvest leaves that are less-bitter than spinach into the summer. Purple varieties in particular make good ornamental plants, though can reach 4 to 6 feet tall.
For those of you in warmer climates, From U of F
Orach is a cool season vegetable and should be grown much like garden spinach. It is quick to bolt in summer. In South and Central Florida, plant in October through January. From Orlando northward, plant seeds mid-September through February. Sow seeds ½- to 1-inch deep in rows spaced 2-feet apart. Thin seedlings to stand 6-12 inches in the row. Seedlings may be transplanted.
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Easy to grow and wonderful to eat. This pack contains a large variety of easy to grow seeds at a great value This combo pack includes one pack of each:
Little Gem Lettuce, White Egg Turnip, Detroit Dark Red Beet, Extra Dwarf Pak Choy Cabbage, Boston Pickling Cucumber, Kentucky Wonder "Old Homestead" Bean, Dynamite Popcorn, Sugar Ann Snap Pea, Black Cherry Tomato, Ruby Red Swiss Chard, Genovese Basil, Dill Bouquet, Lemon Queen Sunflower, Butterfly Garden Mix
Herb gardens make great gifts for beginner gardeners, "seasoned" gardeners and pretty much anyone that enjoys fresh herbs. Our "In the Kitchen" Herb Garden Kit is great for an indoor or outdoor garden.
This is a great starter kit for your Kitchen Herb Garden. Includes a full-pack of the following varieties: Genovese Basil, Cilantro, Dill, Oregano, Parsley, Tarragon, Thyme
Choose from seeds only or the starter pack.
STARTER PACK option includes 24 coconut coir pellets, 7 plant markers and Garden Tools set
At Mary's Heirloom Seeds, we have a few smaller packs that also make great gifts. Mary's favorite is the LUFFA STARTER KIT and we've just added more pellets to the kit for 2020!!!
UPDATED for 2020
Looking to start a garden but not sure where to start? Looking for a fun gift idea for just about any age? Each starter kit includes:
Companion planting is based around the idea that certain plants can benefit others when planted next to, or close to one another.
EACH kit includes one packet of Borage, Marigold, Genovese Basil and Nasturtium as well as your choice of the following Vegetable: Brandywine tomato, Black Beauty Zucchini, Cal Wonder Bell Pepper or Black Beauty Zucchini
I like to use Coconut Coir for seed starting. It's easy to use and less acidic than peat moss. Seeds do not need any fertilizer in the beginning stages so it is best not to use compost or treated soil for seed germination.
Coconut Coir Pellets or 6 Cell Germination trays work well for seed starting. Use garden markers to label the seeds you've planted. I hear from SO many gardeners that they forgot to label or lost their labels and they don't know what they planted! We recently posted 2 video to help you get started
Sowing depth varies, depending on the germination needs of the plant, but generally most seeds are sown at a depth about twice their width. Some seeds require light to germinate and so require sowing on the soil surface. Once depth is determined, sow one to two seeds per pot and mist the soil surface with water so it's evenly moist. Most seeds germinate best at temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Watering when the soil surface feels dry is sufficient, but empty any collected water from the drip tray within 30 minutes of irrigation to prevent soggy soil.
Some seedlings may have to be transplanted into larger pots to give them room to grow and develop their root systems. Handle the baby plants gently by their leaves, not stems or roots, and try to keep the tiny rootballs intact as you move plants to their new pots. When watering seeds, I use either a spray bottle to moisten the soil or pour water into the reservoir so the soil wicks up the water. Heavy-handed pouring can displace tiny seeds so it is best to use caution. Kathryn at Little Bits of Heaven homestead mentioned her secret to avoid "dampening off" in her video Starting the Summer Garden & Cheap Seed Organization and it's cinnamon! We use Cinnamon as well and it definitely helps. Check on your plants once a day Harden off your seedlings prior to transplanting outdoors. Not sure how, we have an article Hardening Off Seedlings If you'd like to check out our very first video on seed starting, it's also on our youtube channel
If you have additional questions please give us a call or email
Tip: Soak seeds overnight in water before planting to ensure strong germination.
Plant seeds 1/4 - 1/2 inch deep and 3-6 inches apart. Set out seedlings 8-12 inches apart. Indoors or out, thin newly germinated seedlings with cuticle scissors instead of pulling them out. Chard seed capsules often contain two or more seeds. If more than one germinates snip off all but the strongest sprout at the soil line. Gradually thin direct-sown seedlings to 8-12 inches apart.
Harvest individual leaves from the outer area but be sure to leave the crown intact.
Frequent picking helps to stimulate the production of new leaves. Rinse leaves with cool water immediately, shake off the excess moisture, and store in plastic bags in the refrigerator for up to four days.
Swiss Chard is not only heat tolerant, depending on your area, it is also a cool weather crop. I have had several varieties withstand several days of frost and survive. So far, Lacinato Kale is the most heat tolerant variety we carry
Chards: Bean, cabbage family, tomato, onion and roses. Don't overlook chard's value as an ornamental plant in flower beds or wherever you have room for it. Don't grow chard near cucurbits, melons, corn or herbs.
-Once established, Swiss Chard can continue to produce for over 6 months and even a year!
-Swiss Chard will tell you when it needs water. Just look at it. If the leaves are wilting, sprinkle them anytime—even in the heat of the day—to cool them off and slow down the transpiration rate.
-Weed by hand if necessary, but be careful of plant roots:
Fertilize 3 weeks after transplanting. Most greens prefer soil that is high in humus, with plenty of compost and a steady supply of nitrogen to keep if growing fast. Alfalfa Meal or Alfalfa Meal Tea works well for Growing Greens.
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Plant seeds 1/4 inch deep in moist soil. It is best to sow lettuce or spinach seeds thinly in rows spaced about 1 ft. apart or simply scatter the seeds in blocks. Cover lightly with soil, firm in place and water well. Keep the soil moist until germination. Once the plants have a grown their true leaves, you can begin to thin the plants to about 6" apart.
Start lettuce or spinach indoors or direct seeded in the garden as soon as the soil is workable. Great for container gardens.
Depending on the type of lettuce, harvest outer leaves only or cut down the whole head. Succession planting can dramatically increase yields, especially in smaller areas. Succession planting is when you stagger plantings in the same area throughout the season. Each time a crop is finished you pull it and plant a new one.
Lettuce and spinach are great options for cold frames if you're growing in a cooler climate. Fertilize 3 weeks after transplanting. Lettuce prefers soil that is high in humus, with plenty of compost and a steady supply of nitrogen to keep if growing fast. Alfalfa Meal or Alfalfa Meal Tea works well for Growing Greens.
Spinach can be harvested in the cut and come again method of harvesting lettuce. Cut individual leaves, starting with the older, outer leaves, and letting the young inner leaves remain and continue growing for a later harvest. You can also cut down the whole plant, for a larger harvest.
Lettuce: Does well with beets, broccoli, bush beans, pole beans, carrots, cucumbers, onion, radish and strawberries. It grows happily in the shade under young sunflowers. Dill and lettuce are a perfect pair. Keep lettuce away from cabbage. Cabbage is a deterrent to the growth and flavor of lettuce.
Spinach: Plant with peas and beans as they provide natural shade for the spinach. Gets along with cabbage, cauliflower, celery, eggplant, onion, peas, strawberries and fava bean. Plant spinach with squash. It's a good use of space because by the time squash plants start to get big the spinach is ready to bolt.
Tomatillo is an often overlooked heirloom variety. Native to Mexico and domesticated by the Aztecs around 800 B.C., the tomatillo is one of our most ancient food bearing plants.
Growing Tomatillo is similar to growing tomatoes but isn't as heavy a feeder as tomatoes.
Select a growing area with full sun exposure and well-drained, moderately rich soil.
The rule of thumb for sowing seeds is to plant the seed twice as deep as it is wide (or twice as deep as the diameter of the seed). Tomatillo seeds are really small, so don’t plant them very deep – they only need to be planted 1/8″ – 1/4″ deep. Grow at least 2 plants at a time, more if you plan to make a bit of salsa.
My personal rule of thumb is to always plant more than you think you'll will need. This will come in handy if you have pest issues such as bugs, birds, squirrels and even cats. If you produce more than you need or use, you can always store for later or share with friends and family.
Similar to growing tomatoes, Tomatillo sprouts roots along the stems, so it does well when planted deep in the soil. Tomatillo plants grow 3 to 4 feet tall and about the same in width, so space the plants 3 feet apart in rows 3 to 4 feet apart. Plan to give them support in the form of gardening trellises or tomato cages.
Tomatillo will continue to produce until frost takes over. Although moderately drought-tolerant, tomatillos do best with an inch or so of water per week (more if you live in a very hot climate).
You know a tomatillo is ready to be cut from the plant when the fruit has filled out the husk. Left to ripen further, the fruit will frequently split the husk and turn yellow or purple depending on its genetics.
We hope you have enjoyed yet another informative growing article here at Mary's Heirloom Seeds. If you have additional questions please ask!
If you've been a customer of Mary's Heirloom Seeds for any length of time, you probably know that we are always ready and willing to answer questions. A common concern is feeding your garden. Specifically, the functions of each one.
I realize that this is a lot of info to put in one single email. If you have additional questions I am happy to help!
This is perfect timing since we're working on a few new instructional videos to help you make your own liquid fertilizer.
If you're growing a veggie garden or you've ever grown a garden then you probably know that nutrients are very important. Sun and soil (and SEEDS) are also important. Nutrients play an integral role in plant health.
Plant Nutrients-Getting Started
Most "all-in-one" type of fertilizers have an "NPK" rating. NPK stands for Nitrogen-Phosphorus-Potassium(potash).
What does each nutrient do?
In addition to other properties, Nitrogen helps plant foliage to grow strong. Phosphorous helps roots and flowers grow and develop. Potassium (Potash) is important for overall plant health.
Minerals are VERY important to healthy plant growth.
Derived from leguminous perennial alfalfa plant used for pasture and cover crop. Primary benefit of this pleasant smelling meal is increasing organic matter, although it is also a valuable plant-derived fertilizer.
NPK analysis is 2.8-0.29-2.4
Contains trace minerals and triaconatol
Excellent addition to the compost pile for nitrogen content and absorbency
**It is important to mention that our Alfalfa Meal is Organic and Non-GMO** If you are looking to avoid synthetic pesticides and gmo derivatives, Organic and Non-GMO is the way to go.
When added to your compost pile, alfalfa acts as a stimulant. It decomposes rapidly, creating heat which helps the rest of your compost to decompose. And your finished compost will have higher nutrient levels when alfalfa is used. Higher nutrient levels in your compost and soil means more nutrient-dense produce in your garden. Bonus, Worms LOVE Alfalfa Meal!
As a garden fertilizer, alfalfa meal is used to increase organic matter in the soil and makes an excellent fast and effective soil conditioner. The high amounts of carbohydrates and protein encourage beneficial soil microbes and earthworms that are responsible for quickly breaking down the nutrients and making them available for use by the plants
Azomite rock dust is a naturally mined volcanic rock composed of over 70 minerals and trace elements that are essential for optimal plant health. The rock formation in Utah from which Azomite is mined was formed when volcanic ash merged with sea water an estimated 30 million years ago. This mixture of volcanic ash and sea water created a unique source of trace minerals and elements that moist soils are void of. Just like humans, plants require many minerals to reach peak health and vigor. Re-mineralize your soil with Azomite and your plants will thank you and reward you!
Contains potash and other minerals from natural marine deposits. Excellent soil conditioner. Greensand is a mined mineral rich in soil conditioning glauconite.
BOTH of these plant nutrients are important for "heavy feeders" such as Tomatoes, Peppers, Eggplant, Pumpkins and Squash
From our website,
Greensand is a mined mineral rich in soil conditioning glauconite
Contains potash and other minerals from natural marine deposits
Excellent soil conditioner
Carrying a formulation of 0-0-0.1
Greensand turns dense, heavy clay into manageable soil. Greensand is a naturally-occurring iron-potassium silicate that can increase soil's moisture absorption by up to ten times.
There are more than 30 trace minerals and nutrients in greensand, with high concentrations of Iron (Fe), Potassium (K), Silicon (Si), Oxygen (O), Magnesium (Mg), Aluminum (Al), Sodium (Na), and Hydrogen (H). These minerals release slowly into the soil in just the proportions that plants need.
Kelp is derived from sea plants and is sustainable. Kelp Meal contains only small amount of N, P, and K (highest in Potash) but adds valuable micronutrients. Kelp Meal also contains vitamins that help increase yields, improve soil structure, reduce plant stress from drought, and increase frost tolerance.
From our website,
Organic Kelp Meal (1-0-2) is dried and ground Rock Weed (Ascophyllum Nodosum), which grows in the cold clean waters along the New England coast, and is known as the best marine plant available for agriculture today
Full of trace Minerals, Carbohydrates and Amino Acids, helping create a strong root systems and makes a very healthy plant
It should be tilled in the soil before planting or can be top dressed, incorporated into potting soils, seed beds and composting material.
Organic kelp meal is ascophyllum nodosum, which is widely recognized as one of the finest marine plants available for agriculture today
It is a natural and cost effective enhancement to any soil fertilization and conditioning program
It is suitable for all crops and applications, and can be mixed with most soil conditioners and fertilizers
BONUS: Sprinkle a small handful of kelp meal early in the growing season around and on the base of squash plants to help deter squash bugs. Do this every 10 days where squash bugs are a problem.
A well-balanced organic fertilizer and a good all-around blend. It is easy to use and ready to apply. pH balanced to counteract acidic soil conditions and formulated to deliver a steady supply of organic nutrients to enhance soil fertility and produce vigorous plants.
Use at any stage of plant's life.
Boosts Microbial Activity
Contains Fish Bone Meal, Blood Meal, Rock Phosphate, Greensand, Langbeinite, Kelp Meal, and Humic Shale Ore
Carefully blended from organic nutrients in the ideal proportions without the use of synthetics, growth stimulants or low quality fillers
Calcium is a component of plant cell walls, and it's needed for enzyme formation and nitrate uptake. Organic calcium can also be used to help neutralize excessively acidic soils, which is especially important when you're growing green, leafy vegetables like lettuce and spinach, or cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and kale.
Humate is a generic name for humic materials -- salt forms of humic acid. They are most commonly low grade lignite coal. Humates regulate water-holding capacity, have extremely high ion exchange capacities, and reduce soil erosion by increasing the cohesive forces of the very fine soil particles. Very low concentrations of humates have been shown to stimulate seed germination and root growth. They have also been shown to stimulate desirable soil microorganisms.
Mycorrhizae is a fungi that has a beneficial relationship with a plants roots. When Mycorrhizal fungi comes into contact with a plants roots it begins to colonize, or multiply, on the roots and begins to spread out into the surrounding soil. These strands of mycorrhizal fungi effectively become an extension of the roots and can increase the absorption area of a plants root system by 10 to 1,000 times. This allows the root system a more efficient intake of nutrients and water.
They are particularly effective for agricultural plants that have high water and nutritional needs. Over 50,000 University studies have highlighted the benefits of mycorrhizal colonization on the health and yield of plants.