Lavender Infused Oil Recipe Posted on 5 Dec 10:50 , 0 comments

The scent of lavender is delicate and calming. This is another once of my favorite herbs. It may be somewhat difficult to grow but this Lavender infused Oil recipe is easy to make.

If you enjoyed our Calendula Infused Oil recipe, I think you're going to enjoy this one!

It is important to mention that we use dried lavender flowers for this recipe. Fresh Lavender flowers have a higher water content.

While not as concentrated as pure essential oils, there are many wonderful ways to incorporate lavender-infused oil into your household and beauty recipes. I often add lavender oil to my calendula oil for a soothing foot cream and insect repellent.

Lavender Flower Oil Kit


DIY Lavender Infused Oil

slow cooker
large glass jar (quart-size ball jar)
fine mesh strainer or coffee filter
**strainer is much easier**

1 ounce Lavender flowers (dry)
2 cups olive oil/avocado oil/almond oil

You can use different oils such as coconut or jojoba oil but the above oils I mention are my favorites.

Dried Lavender


There are 2 ways to prepare:

#1 Place ingredients into a slow cooker for 3 to 6 hours.

#2 Place ingredients in a glass jar and place in a sunny windowsill for 6-8 weeks.  This method requires more time but does not require a slow cooker

After your infusion is complete, strain out the oil from the flowers. 
Pour infused oil into a clean, glass container. Our Lavender Oil Kit includes an able dropper bottle.  Label each jar with ingredients and date.

Store infused oil out of direct sunlight. I prefer to store in a closed cabinet.

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

Top 10 Homestead Crops Posted on 4 Dec 13:26 , 21 comments

I am often asked about my favorite crops to grow so I thought I'd share.  This is the print version from my video Top 10 Homestead Crops

Choosing my favorites is no easy task but I've included a few specific varieties throughout this article that might help you choose.  If you have additional questions I'm happy to help!


  1. Cabbage, Collards and Kale

Cold hardiness and nutrient-rich qualities are why cabbage makes this list. It can stay in the garden late into fall and store in a root cellar or cold greenhouse. Sauerkraut, a fermented food rich in vitamins and probiotics, is a traditional means of preserving cabbage, and your kraut can keep in a crock for months.

Pictured is Pak Choy Cabbage (also called bok choy and pok choy).  This is a fantastic, fast-growing variety of Chinese cabbage.

Kale is a superfood that keeps on giving!  When growing Kale, you harvest the outer leaves instead of pulling up the whole plant.  This allows for multiple harvests of nutrient-dense food.

Lacinato Kale is a good heat-tolerant variety if you live in warmer climates

Collards are cool weather crops but some do very well in warmer climates.  Morris Heading and Georgia Green both do well in warmer growing areas.

Greens don't last very long once harvested so you'll need to use them up or preserve them. 2 simple ways to preserve greens are freezing and dehydrating.


  1. Winter Squash





Winter squash, rich in fiber and vitamins A and C.  Grow ‘Waltham Butternut’ for a pest-resistant, HUGE performer in the garden. Pumpkin and Acorn squash are also homestead favorites and they store very well.

HUBBARB BLUE reaches 16 to 20 pounds.  It is also a "trap crop" for companion planting so Hubbard Blue is a must-have in our garden

If stored properly, winter squash and pumpkin can last a few months after harvest making this an excellent homestead crop.


  1. Staples Crops: Dry Beans & Green Beans

Beans are most definitely a homestead favorite.  From our article Feeding a Family from the garden, it is recommended to plant 10-20 plants per person to feed for a year. If you're just looking to add to your food preps, 5 plants or more per person would work

Dry beans, or legumes, are a homestead favorite as they store very well without needed to can them.

Green Beans are easy to grow and can or freeze.  If you have a smaller garden space, planting pole beans are an excellent option as they grow UP. 


  1. Heirloom Corn

Providing homegrown food for your table is such an amazing thing.  Heirloom Corn can be used fresh or dried for future use.  Animals can be fed from stored corn making Heirloom Corn one of our top 10.

As we mentioned in our video Heirloom Corn varieties at Mary's Heirloom Seeds, there are 6  types of corn: Sweet, Popcorn, flint, flour, dent and waxy.

Flint corn is suited to cooler, wetter climates and is the most difficult to grind.

Flour corn, grown by American Indians in the Southwest, is the easiest to grind.

Dent corn is characterized by the dent in the top of each kernel.

Common field corn is dent corn.

Popcorn is exactly as the name implies.  It is used dried for popping.

Sweet corn does not store as well so it should be consumed or preserved after harvest.


  1. ROOT CROPS: Garlic & Potatoes

I know I mention a few different root crops for homesteading but Garlic and Potatoes are in a category together as they store very well if properly cured.  "Seed potatoes" and "seed garlic" is available from most seed companies only seasonally.  You can use store bought but you might be exposing your garden to soil born diseases.

We have 2 videos about garlic planting:





Tomatoes can be dried, frozen or canned.  They can be made into soups, sauces, pastes and more. They then become the base ingredient in hundreds of kitchen recipes.  Tomatoes are one of the easiest veggies to can because they are a high acid veggie and as such, they can be water bath canned instead of needing a pressure canner.

Yellow Pear tomato is a sweet and juicy snack I like to eat right out in the garden.  San Marzano tomato has been a hearty producer for making sauce. Cherokee Purple Tomato is still my all time favorite for slicers but Emerald Green is a close second!



Fast growing, fast maturing and a double duty crop because you eat the root and greens.  Easy to pickle and delicious raw.  Radish can also be roasted just like mini potatoes.  French Breakfast Radish is a more mild variety.  German Giant Radish can be eaten small or large.  Japanese Daikon is a nice, spicy variety but it takes a couple weeks longer to mature.


  1. BEETS

Fast growing, fast maturing and a double duty crop because you eat the root and greens of beets.  Depending on your growing region, some gardeners can grow beets year-round.

Detroit Dark Red is definitely a favorite because it's so pest resistant. Red Mammoth Mangel deserves a mention because it can grow 20 POUNDS, making it great to feed livestock


  1. Wheat for those of you not gluten sensitive. Wheat is used to make so many food items such as bread, pasta and pastries.

We carry Einkorn Wheat berries, which is an ancient grain.  Some people with gluten sensitivity have had success using Einkorn instead.

BUT...I would say SUNFLOWERS instead on our homestead.  We avoid wheat.  Sunflowers produce seeds to feed us and our chickens.  They also produce A LOT of seeds to grow more.  Sunflowers also attract pollinators to our garden to help us grow the BEST garden ever!


  1. HERBS

Pretty much grow your own pharmacy if you know what to grow and how to dry it.  We offer a few seed combo packs like the "In the Kitchen" Herb Garden Kit to help you grow a small herb garden.  For your own home apothecary, we have quite a few options.  CLICK HERE to see our herb seed combo packs


If I had to pick 3 specific varieties to grow?

TOP 3 Varieties:

Blue Lake Bush Beans, Hubbard Blue Squash and Cherokee Purple Tomato

If you have additional questions please give us a call or email

Happy Planting!

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Mary's Garden Gift Guide Posted on 8 Nov 07:55 , 0 comments

Garden Gifts are my favorite!  Audrey Hepburn said, "To plant a Garden is to Believe in Tomorrow."  Sharing the gift of gardening is amazing! (that's my own quote)

At Mary's Heirloom Seeds, we offer quite a few starter kits and seed combo packs.  In this guide, you'll find a few of Mary's favorites as well as our customer favorites.

We have moved our "garden necklaces" to a new Etsy shop Sunshine Homestead. There are a few "lorax" and Bee items available


One of our customer favorites is the Butterfly Garden Starter Kit

This kit includes:
Seeds: Butterfly Weed, Plains Coreopsis, Echinacea Purpurea, Marigold and Lacy Phacelia
20 coconut Coir Pellets
Plant Markers
Sowing and Growing Tips included


The GARDEN STARTER Seed Combo pack is a new seed combo pack and it's fantastic!

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

As well as 14 Plant Markers


Our Rainbow Garden Pack will certainly add LOTS color to your garden!

Looking for a unique and exciting way to add COLOR to your garden and your plate? 

Mary's Heirloom Seeds has got just what you need!  This combo pack includes individually packaged seed varieties listed below  **20 seed packs in all**


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:

-Luffa Seeds

-10 Coconut Coir Pellets

-Mountain Flower Root Boost sample pack

-Re-Usable seed starter container


Our Basic Starter Kit allows your to pick from several different varieties

Our GARDEN GIFT BOX is also a new option and one of Mary's favorites.

Mary's Garden Gift Box includes: SEEDS, Coconut Coir Pellets, Plant Markers and Liquid fertilizer packs.

CLICK HERE for complete details


Our BACK TO BASICS HOMESTEAD PACK is loaded with seeds! Seriously, this one is Amazing!

This combo pack includes thousands of seeds, planting instructions and an option to add coconut coir pellets.  Our Back to Basics Homestead Pack has been updated with more seeds!!!


There are so many Seed Combo Packs and Starter Kits, it's hard to choose.  But it's not like you have to pick just one.  Try a few!


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

Includes 6 varieties of individually packed EDIBLE Flower varieties!

A unique mix of medicinal herbs and companion plant!

It is an amazing experience to learn new things!  Each kit includes

-Seeds: Black Beauty Zucchini, Golden Crookneck Squash, Spaghetti Squash, Delicata Squash and Small Sugar Pumpkin

-20 coconut Coir Pellets

-Plant Markers

-Sowing and Growing Tips included

Each kit includes:

-Seeds: Amana's Orange, Cherokee Purple, Homestead, Green Zebra and Yellow Pear tomatoes

-20 coconut Coir Pellets

-Plant Markers

-Sowing and Growing Tips included




We even have DIY kits that are great for homesteaders, gardeners and the DIYer in your life (especially if that's you)



This "Calendula Infusion Kit" includes the following items:
Organic Calendula flowers: 1 or 2 ounces
1 Glass Jar, quart size with lid
1 ounce organic Candelilla wax
and detailed instructions
**All you need to add is the carrier oil**


Looking for a gift for the cat lover in your life?  We have a CATNIP STARTER KIT!

Each starter kit includes: 50 Catnip Seeds, Coconut Coir Pellets and a Re-Usable seed starter container.

If you have additional questions please give us a call or email

Happy Planting!

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Grow MORE Spend Less Posted on 15 Mar 06:41 , 0 comments

We hope you have enjoyed all of the "growing" and plant spacing articles so far.  We are frugal people and I love a good DIY project in the garden that doesn't require spending a bunch of money.  A few examples from previous articles include Start A Bucket Garden or our videos about Using Manure in the Garden and Composting Basics with Mary.

So how do we Grow MORE and Spend Less?

As we mentioned above, recycling in the garden is a GREAT place to start.

-Food scraps and yard "waste" can be composted to use as "free" nutrients for your plants

-Recycled containers can be used for seed starting and growing

-If you have livestock or know someone with animals (rabbit, chicken, goat, cow, pig, horse, alpaca) then you might ask them for their manure.  Rabbit manure can be used immediately but the rest should be composted for 3-12 months depending on the animal.

-Collect & save water. Rain water, grey water systems and "shower buckets" are great ways to save


99 Cent Seed packs to help you grow more!

Our unique selection of sale seeds and every-day 99 cent packs are another great way to grow more and save.  Some of these varieties will grow large, delicious veggies.

Black Beauty Zucchini

We don't always let them grow this large but these were great as zoodles.  Some of these are over 14 inches long


Hubbard Blue Squash

From a single seed we grew several Hubbard Blue Squash.  This one was 16 1/2 pounds


Japanese Giant Red Mustard

This truly lives up to it's name as a giant mustard green.  It's a bit spicy but delicious!


Red Mammoth Mangel Beet

The smaller beet on the left is an early Wonder heirloom beet and on the right is Red Mammoth Mangel beet. The Red Mammoth Mangel Beet is known as a "fodder beet" and was picked small at only 3 1/8 lb
Fodder beets have been around since the 1400s if not earlier. These beets were prized as nutritious animal feed that was easy to store. Fodder beets are hardy, adaptable and palatable. They are ideal for planting in late summer for use as a winter and spring crop.
Red Mammoth Mangel Beets produce an incredible mass of edible beet leaves and a large root up to 20 pounds or more in size


NJ Wakefield Cabbage is another great option as each pack contains 200 seeds for only 99 Cents!


The outer leaves of the Swiss Chard can be harvested as needed and it will continue to produce.  We have had plants that lasted for a year so you can see why Swiss Chard made the list



Homegrown heirloom tomatoes are so flavorful.  There are so many unique varieties to choose from that you cannot purchase from the store


These are just a few example of how to grow more & spend less.


I hope you have enjoyed another educational article.  If you have additional questions, please leave a comment below or send an email to

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Food Gardens are Part of the Solution Posted on 29 Nov 10:42 , 0 comments

I love reading about people in their community growing food and building relationships thru their food gardens.  This particular story touched my heart so I'm sharing with you too

11 Year Old Boy Creates Community Garden so No One Goes Hungry
Hurt told 24-Hour News 8 he started gardening when he was 7 years old and planted beans. His mom said the beans provided extra food for the family.
Hurt is now expanding his garden to help others. The community garden opened earlier in May.
“I got rows of tomatoes, one, two,” Hurt described. “This one’s got two tomatoes.”

But this land is more than just a garden of fruits and vegetables.
“I got it from across the school because the lady over there donated it to me so that’s when I got it and also I wanted to do that to feed the community,” Hurt added.
He said the garden is open to everyone and people can stop by whenever to pick fresh fruits and vegetables.
“Because it’s the right thing to help feed the community, and it feeds people so nobody goes hungry,” Hurt said.

Helping people grow the healthiest gardens possible is our passion.  This is one of many reasons we started Mary's Heirloom Seeds.  Every day we are working to create additional planting tutorials and videos.  Our Gardens Fundraiser at Mary's Heirloom Seeds helps fund additional seed donations to school gardens, community and non-profit gardens and church gardens across the country.  Every Year our donation program GROWS!

Gardening can reduce stress & anxiety, it can bring people together and it's a great education tool.  Food gardens offer all of those benefits and more!

You may already know from numerous articles I've shared that I'm a huge advocate of Growing Food no matter what!  If you're curious, read

You Don't Need a farm to Grow Food

Start A Bucket Garden

Growing In Containers

9 Easiest Vegetables to grow from Seed to Harvest

Food Gardens can feed people!!!  I know that's an obvious statement but with so many hungry people in the world and right here in our own community, it needs to be said.  We can make a difference one food garden at a time.

Food Gardens can solve the issue of food deserts.  "Food deserts are defined  as parts of the country vapid of fresh fruit, vegetables, and other healthful whole foods, usually found in impoverished areas. This is largely due to a lack of grocery stores, farmers’ markets, and healthy food providers." source

Food Gardens can help save the Pollinators!  2018 is the Year of the pollinators!  If you grow organic and WITH nature, there is always a place for beneficial insects.  We use Companion Planting as our first line of defense against pests.  A healthy, well fed soil system can produce healthy plant which do not require expensive sprays and treatments.

The agri-chem companies want you to believe that GMOs are meant to "feed the world" but that is a myth.  Read GMO Crops Do Not Cure Hunger.  The answer to feeding more people is for the community to get involved with their food production.  The amount of cancer causing pesticides and herbicides used every year is in the billions of pounds.  If we all took responsibility for our food and grow beyond organic standards, we could make a GLOBAL change for the benefit of everyone.

From PPS, "Safety and crime reduction  -  There is evidence linking community gardens to improved safety in neighborhoods – showing that crime decreases in neighborhoods as the amount of green space increases. Two reports in the Journal of Environment and Behavior studied (1) the impact nature has on mental fatigue (often a precursor of aggression and violence), and (2) the relationship between green space and inner city crime rates. The research determined that aggression and violence was “significantly lower among those people who lived near some green space than those who lived in more barren conditions.”"

Kids love to grow food!  Food Gardens are a great educational tool.  As part of our seed donation program at Mary's Heirloom Seeds, we work with several homeschool groups and co-ops across the country and in our own community.  My sister and her kids grow all sorts of deliciousness in the garden.

Why Heirloom Seeds?
From Seed Saving Part 1, "Saving Seeds from your garden bounty is like putting money away for a rainy day.  Best of all, saving your own seeds is one of many ways to regain control of your family's source of food"
Open-pollinated, heirloom seeds will grow seeds that can be saved and re-planted year after year. Hybrid seeds can be sterile and may not produce true offspring from saved seeds.

I hope you have enjoyed another educational article.  If you have additional questions, please leave a comment below or send an email to

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About Moringa Oleifera Posted on 11 Nov 08:52 , 4 comments


We're growing Moringa Oleifera on our homestead!  This is one of those things that makes me excited about growing.  Moringa is a new one for us here.

What is Moringa Oleifera?

Commonly known as Moringa, it is said to be "the most nutritious tree found on the earth." Moringa tree grows in tropical conditions and this tree is native to India and Africa.

From Mary's Heirloom Seeds,
It is a fast-growing, drought-resistant tree, native to the southern foothills of the Himalayas in northwestern India, and widely cultivated in tropical and subtropical areas where its young seed pods and leaves are used as vegetables. It can also be used for water purification and hand washing, and is sometimes used in herbal medicine.

From Moringa . com,
Moringa leaves, which is the most nutritious part of the Moringa tree, is loaded with Vitamins and Minerals. For this reason it is known as the Nutrition powerhouse. Fresh Moringa leaves contain 70 to 75% moisture and when they are dried the moisture content goes down to less than 8% and hence the nutrients becomes much more concentrated. That is the reason why people prefer to use Moringa Leaf Powder in their supplements.

Leaves can be harvested every 30-45 days throughout the year.


Moringa oleifera is a small size tree with approximately 5 to 10 m height. It is cultivated all over the world due to its multiple utilities. Every part of Moringa is used for certain nutritional and/or medicinal propose. Containing over 90 nutrients and 46 antioxidants, non-GMO Moringa (Moringa Oleifera) is one of nature’s most nutritious foods. Ideal for helping our bodies maintain optimum health and balance. Because moringa leaf powder does not spoil, this makes an excellent long-term survival food.

From Trees For Life

To grow from seed:

Moringa seeds have no dormancy periods and can be planted as soon as they are mature.

  1. Choose an area with light and sandy soil, not heavy with clay or water-logged.
  2. Dig holes 1 ft (30 cm) square and 1 ft deep. Back-fill the holes with loose soil. Compost or manure will help the tree grow better, even though Moringa trees can grow in poor soils.
  3. Plant 3 to 5 seeds in each hole, 2 in. (5 cm) apart. Plant the seeds no deeper than three times the width of the seed (approximately ½ in. or 1.5 cm -- the size of one's thumbnail).
  4. Keep the soil moist enough so that the top soil will not dry and choke the emerging saplings, but it should not be too wet or else the seeds can drown and rot.
  5. When the saplings are four to six inches tall, keep the healthiest sapling in the ground and remove the rest. Termites and nematodes can kill a young sapling. Take measures to protect saplings from these two dangers.
The ground where the trees are to be planted should be light and sandy, not heavy with clay or water-logged.
Dig a hole 1 ft (30 cm) square and 1 ft deep. Backfill with loose soil. Adding compost or manure will help the trees grow better.

  1. Water the planting holes one day before transplanting the seedlings.
  2. Plant seedlings in the late afternoon to avoid the hot sun the first day.
  3. Make a hole in the pit to accept all soil in the bag. Carefully cut open the sack and place the seedling in the planting hole. Be careful to keep the soil around the seedling's roots intact.
  4. Pack soil around the seedling base.
  5. Water only lightly for the first few days.
If the seedlings fall over, tie them to a stick for support. Protect young saplings from termites and nematodes

I hope you have enjoyed another educational article.  If you have additional questions, please leave a comment below or send an email to

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Making Your Own Herbal Remedies Posted on 29 Oct 14:48 , 0 comments


Mary's Heirloom Seeds
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October 29, 2017
We've been busy in the gardens and creating in the kitchen.  We had a special request made on
our faceook page to bring back a few of our
These make fantastic gifts.
After sharing about the new kits we had a few questions about how to make tinctures.
Below you'll find the basic info as well as links to articles and tutorials we've shared on our website over the years.  Enjoy!!!

There are many ways to use herbs for medicinal purposes and one of the is in a tincture. Other uses include consuming in food, salves, herbal vinegar and herbal oils, teas and even syrup. I thought I would start with Tinctures because it is quite simple and easy to use.
There are 2 important components to your herbal tincture: Herbal material and menstruum
Our DIY Organic Tincture Kits include everything but the liquid!

What is Menstruum?
Definition: a substance that dissolves a solid or holds it in suspension : solvent
Types of Menstruum is general vodka, when making a true herbal tincture. Vinegar can be used, it can be safer than alcohol, but is less effective at leaching out the medicinal components of the plant. When tincturing dried herbs, water is sometimes mixed with the vodka or alcohol. When tincturing fresh herbs, I always use high-proof alcohol.

An herbal tincture is simply an herbal extract. Herbal remedies have been used throughout history to treat illnesses and ailments without "modern medicine" and pharmacueticals. Tinctures are easy to make, home remedies. If properly prepared and stored, your tincture will last indefinitely.  
How long will an Herbal Tincture last?
First, if you choose to use Vinegar, Apple Cider vinegar or Vegetable glycerin, your tincture will have a shelf life of approximately 6-8 months.
All tinctures should be stored in a cool, dry, dark place. A kitchen cabinet away from the oven or stove works perfect.
According to my research, properly made tinctures with high-proof alcohol do not go bad. Again, if prepared and stored properly.
A few of my favorites: Cayenne, Feverfew, Chamomile and Thai Holy Basil
Did you enjoy our tutorial on how to make your own Calendula Infused Oil?
Why DIY Tinctures?
If you look at your local "health food store" you will find tinctures.  Most are $10-$40 per ounce.  Online it is the same story plus shipping.  
Pictured is a special "kit" I put together to get started on your tincture.
Our DIY Tincture Kits include 
1-32 ounce glass jar with lid, 1- 2 ounce Amber bottle with dropper top, 2 customizeable labels, 1 ounce of Organic Herb of your choice (additional herbs available) and Details Instructions
Let's do the math
Tincture Kit from Mary's Shop $15.75
Priority mail shipping $7.99
24 ounces (3 cups) of 100 proof vodka (approx)  $6.91

Total spent for 24 ounces of Tincture  $30.65
Homemade: Total spent for 2 ounces $2.55

Online store selling 1 ounce of Chamomile Tincture  $11.00
Shipping $4
Store-Bought: Total for 2 ounces: $26

HUGE savings!!!  Plus, with the Tincture Kit you have the Jar, Strainer top and detailed Instructions to make more!
If you have additional questions please feel free to ask. 


Happy Planting,


Mary's Heirloom Seeds, P. O. Box 3763, Ramona, CA 92065

15 Survival Seeds to Stockpile Posted on 26 Oct 15:26 , 2 comments

TIP: Stocking up on seeds for SHTF only works if you're actively growing and rotating seeds!
Please don't fall for the "lasts indefinitely" claim from most survival seed companies. Seeds most definitely have a shelf life (even in mylar bags). No one grows a perfect garden every year so if you're planning on growing, PRACTICE is essential.
We have been asked many time if we plan on offering a "survival seed pack" but it's just not something we want to encourage.  We do however offer several Seed Combo packs as well as a Back to Basics Homestead pack.
There are many reason to be prepared and not all of them are a complete collapse of our system.  Sickness, loss of a job or a reduction in wages are just a few very personal reasons to prepare for the unexpected.  
Being prepared doesn't necessarily need to be for TEOTWAWKI (the end of the world as we know it).

Reasons for Food Insecurities include
Job Loss
Rising food costs
Crop failure due to Weather or Water Shortage
Farm labor shortage
Interruptions in transportation of food
Civil unrest
Natural Disasters, as we've seen in recent months, are another VERY important reasons to be prepared.  Due to our aging infrastructure and roadways, emergencies can stall the delivery of goods, leaving a community without food for a given period of time.  While the recent hurricanes and wildfires have wiped out many people's gardens, their gardening experience cannot be taken away.
Getting Started
-Find out what grows best in your area and when to plant for your region.
Our Planting Guide for the US is a great resource
-How much space do you have for growing and is it adequate for feeding your group
*I'm working on a plant spacing article so we'll update this article soon*
-How many plants and varieties do you need to sustain yourself and/or your group
-If you're newer to Growing, it might be a good idea to start with easier varieties.  Stock up on all of the food varieties that you eat but start planting the easy ones.
-Timing is everything!  If you're in a very HOT climate, usually summer is not the time to plant.  If you're in a cool or cold climate, it is best to plant indoors to get a jump on planting season and/or provide a greenhouse to extend your growing season.
Our Planting Guide for the US is a great resource

-Learn to Save Seeds! 
FIRST and most important: Seed Saving from your own harvest is preferred. Store bought produce can be GMO or even hybrid. Even organic store bought can be hybrid.  Hybrid seeds can be sterile and will not produce true offspring from saved seeds.
Open-pollinated, heirloom seeds will grow seeds that can be saved and re-planted year after year.

Read Seed Saving Part 1 

Don't Wait until it's Too Late
As we mentioned above, 
"No one grows a perfect garden every year so if you're planning on growing, PRACTICE is essential."
Learn to grow the foods that you eat regularly.  Canning and preserving those foods would be the next step in being more self-reliant.  You'll find that growing food takes a bit of patience and knowledge of soil, sun and water.  If you have clay soil you mid need to amend with compost.  If you have rocky soil you may need to grow in raised beds.  These are things you'll learn as you grow. 
We offer 3 new videos about using Compost and Manure to amend your soil and these resources are FREE!

Beans - Easy to grow and preserve. Beans are very high in fiber, calcium, Vitamins A, C, and K
Spinach -  Cold hardy and prolific. Many call this a superfood based upon its large array of vitamins such as Vitamin A, C, iron, thiamine, thiamine, and folic acid.
Carrots - Another hardy crop that requires very little space. This root crop is a good source of carbohydrates, vitamin A, vitamin C
Squash - Both squash and pumpkin are prolific producers.  Both store well, especially winter squash. Seeds can be saved and/or roasted and consumed. Squash has lots of carbohydrates and a great nutrient list, including Vitamins A and C, as well as magnesium and potassium.
Allium varieties - This includes Onions, shallots, Leeks and garlic.  A good source of dietary fiber, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, folate and potassium.
Beets - Easy to grow and multi-functional.  Both roots and greens are edible making beets a dual purpose crop.
Tomatoes - If you can keep your pest issues to a minimum, tomatoes can produce an abundance of food from a relatively small space. Tomatoes are a good source of Vitamin A, C, K, E, Potassium, thiamine, and Niacin
Broccoli - Another cool weather crop. Broccoli is a good source of protein, Vitamins A and K, and carbohydrates
Peppers - From a medicinal view, peppers such as cayenne are essential for natural remedies. Peppers are high in vitamin A and C
Eggplant - Not something most people would think to grow but still an important one.  Eggplant is relatively easy to grow and can grow for 3 or more years.  Bonus, it's pretty easy to save seeds from Eggplant
Asparagus - An essential perennial. Depending on your region, established Asparagus plants can continue to produce for 30 years (some report for longer)
Amaranth - Another dual purpose plant.  Amaranth is naturally drought tolerant.  Seeds from the amaranth can be used as a grain (cook just as you would quinoa).  Leaves can be picked while young and tender and eaten raw or sauteed as you would spinach. 

Radish - If you need a FAST maturing crop, radish is one of the best.  From seed to harvest, radish is mature in as few as 25 days.  Seeds are easy to save from crops and just as easy to stockpile.

Corn - I know I mention grain below but Corn deserves a specific mention.  While corn might not be the easiest crop to grow, it has many uses.  Most people automatically think of Sweet Corn.  However, Dent Corn & Field Corn are important.  Both can be dried and fed to livestock.  It can also be dried and ground into cornmeal. 
Grains - If you have livestock on your homestead, grains can help feed them.  Grains are a good source of carbohydrates, are high in dietary fiber and manganese

HERBS: Natural pest control can be obtained thru companion planting with herbs. If you're planning on making your own herbal remedies, medicinal herbs are a must.

FLOWERS: Do not underestimate flower power!  We use many flowers planted throughout our garden for companion planting and to attract bees for pollination.  Most common flowers we use are Borage, PurpleConeflower, Marigolds, Nasturtium, Plains Coreopsis, Cornflower, Yarrow, SUNFLOWERS and Calendula

Potatoes - *Keep in mind, seed potatoes do not keep.* You must continually replentish your stock from your own crops (or Mary's Heirloom Seeds as long as we have internet). Potatoes are a staple diet of many of the world’s peoples, especially those in the west. The contain potassium, copper and B6 and are really good to ‘fill you up’ at mealtime. They are also usually pretty easy to grow, although some varieties are very disease prone. 

I hope you have enjoyed another educational article.  if you have additional questions, please leave a comment below or send an email to

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Create A Wishlist at Mary's Heirloom Seeds Posted on 8 Oct 08:32 , 1 comment

Good morning and Happy Sunday!
I can feel Fall in the air.  We're having cooler mornings but still warm days. Today is a great day to pull up old plants and plant Fall Seeds (we'll post pics on facebook)

Wondering what to plant now?
now available on our website
We've had several requests lately so today we're offering NEW articles with info to help you better Plan and Plant.

As a grower/farmer/homesteader, we understand that sometimes your "wishlist" might be larger than your budget or your garden space.  With over 500 heirloom seed varieties available at Mary's Heirloom Seeds, it's not always easy to decide which varieties to purchase and plant.  Recently someone on our facebook page asked about creating a wishlist option on our site.

Here's what we came up with...
Create an account at Mary's Heirloom Seeds.  You'll see the option on the top right corner of the page if your on a desktop (pictured).  If you're on a mobile device, it's under "Menu" and at the bottom of the drop-down list.

From there, enter your info in the boxes provided
(pictured below)

You will receive an email confirmation as soon as you're signed up.  From there, you can add any items you would like to your cart as a wishlist.  If you do not receive this email, your info might not have been saved or you might have a filter on your email
We do not "dump" carts so you can continue to add or take away from your cart at any time.  If for some reason you cannot access your cart, you can always send us an email.  We have the option to send out an email with a link to recover your account.

As always, if you have additional questions or concerns we are happy to help.
Please email
with your questions.

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Food Security & Insecurity in the US Posted on 23 Aug 13:44 , 0 comments

This article is in response to a recent article I shared about Crops rotting in the field because farmers lacked the labor force to complete their harvest.  There are many reasons for the lack of labor force but we'll stick to the FOOD issues for now.
What would happen if there were no more fancy colored lettuce in plastic bags and boxes on store shelves?  What would you do if they were there but you could no longer afford them?
According to the USDA, food insecurity decline in 2015 by 1.3% from 2014.  That sounds great but when you look at the staggering about of people around you that struggle every day to feed themselves and their family it isn't very comforting.
Reasons for Food Insecurities include
Job Loss
Rising food costs
Crop failure due to Weather or Water Shortage
Farm labor shortage
Interruptions in transportation of food
Civil unrest
To keep it simple, this article refers to 2 types of food security.  The first is the supply chain of food and the second is consumer access based on affordability.
As a homesteader, we grow quite a bit of our own food but we understand that not everyone shares our passion for self-sufficiency.  Even though we grow, there are still plenty of food items that are sourced locally or thru grocery stores.  Those items don't just magically appear in the store.  Someone has to grow them, care for them, harvest them and then transport.  One "blip" in the supply chain can be devastating.
From a single seed we grew this 16+ pound Hubbard Blue Squash
Food Shortages
We've seen the evidence of food shortages in recent years.  Venezuela is an example.  Some argue the food is there but the government has control.  Some argue that the food is there but it's too expensive and others that there is a true food shortage.  Whichever theory you choose to follow, the fact is that the people of Venezuela are in trouble.
Food Waste
In some instances, it's not the lack of food that can be the issue but rather wasting food.  Every day perfectly good produces is thrown out because it isn't "pretty" enough to sell.

Corporate takeover of Seed supplies
From our article Protecting Seed Diversity
"Today, three corporations control 53 percent of the global commercial seed market.
Read that sentence again and let that sink in...3 corporations OWN over half of the global commercial seed market!"
Those statistics are WORSE now with the mergers of Syngenta & ChemChina as well as Bayer and Monsanto
Plant Heirloom Seeds to fight corporate greed!

In 2006, USDA introduced new language to describe ranges of severity of food insecurity.  Let's start with the clear definitions from the USDA
Food Security
High food security (old label=Food security): no reported indications of food-access problems or limitations.
Marginal food security (old label=Food security): one or two reported indications—typically of anxiety over food sufficiency or shortage of food in the house. Little or no indication of changes in diets or food intake.
Food Insecurity
Low food security (old label=Food insecurity without hunger): reports of reduced quality, variety, or desirability of diet. Little or no indication of reduced food intake.
Very low food security (old label=Food insecurity with hunger): Reports of multiple indications of disrupted eating patterns and reduced food intake.
Why do we need these definitions?  Well, to better understand their statistics!
Statistics show
Food secure—These households had access, at all times, to enough food for an active, healthy life for all household members.
87.3 percent (109.3 million) of U.S. households were food secure throughout 2015.
An increase from 86.0 percent in 2014.
Food insecure—At times during the year, these households were uncertain of having, or unable to acquire, enough food to meet the needs of all their members because they had insufficient money or other resources for food. Food-insecure households include those with low food security and very low food security.
12.7 percent (15.8 million) of U.S. households were food insecure at some time during 2015.
Down from 14.0 percent in 2014.
Very low food security—In these food-insecure households, normal eating patterns of one or more household members were disrupted and food intake was reduced at times during the year because they had insufficient money or other resources for food. 
5.0 percent (6.3 million) of U.S. households had very low food security at some time during 2015.
Down from 5.6 percent in 2014.
Over the past two decades, food prices have risen 2.6 percent a year on average. But recent factors have slowed food price inflation. The change is only temporary, though. Once those downward pressures abate, food prices will resume their normal upward trend.

Let's do the math. In the last 20 years, food prices have increased by 52%
Food Shortages from the Farm
June 2017
"UK summer fruit and salad growers are having difficulty recruiting pickers, with more than half saying they don't know if they will have enough migrant workers to harvest their crops." source 
August 2017
"Volatile prices can be blamed on a dismal California harvest, which started in February."
"She said trees were stressed after five years of drought. Extreme heat in July 2016 also hurt this year’s crop.  Global supplies also are down." source

April 2017
"Lettuce Shortage sends prices soaring" source

April 2011
"Eggplant shortage disrupts supplies to local eateries, groceries" source

MOST of your store-bought food is Imported!
"It is estimated that the average American meal travels about 1500 miles to get from farm to plate." source
"Today, the typical American prepared meal contains, on average, ingredients from at least five countries outside the United States." source

We are fortunate in the US to have access to grocery stores and sophisticated transportation methods.  I've given you a good idea with the sources above of the different forms of food insecurities we face.  I've also shown that even with our current technology and infrastructure, food insecurities do exist.

What can we do?
As a homesteader, I can tell you what we are doing.  Plant a garden and GROW.  Every season we expand our gardens to be able to produce more fruits, veggies and herbs.  What we do not eat, we preserve for future use or share our abundance.
Garden goodies I dropped off for my Mom

We barter fresh produce with one neighbor in exchange for her horse poop.  We use the aged horse poop in the garden to produce healthy, abundant crops.

Backyard chickens are a newer adventure for us and so far we're thrilled.  It took 5 months growing these tiny chicks into hens but they are now rewarding us with eggs every day.
Organic eggs from our Hens

Stock your pantry.  For items that you are unable to grow, but in bulk and store for later.  We do this as well and it has saved quite a bit of money in the process.  Just be sure to rotate your "back-ups."

I hope you have enjoyed another educational article.  if you have additional questions, please leave a comment below or send an email to

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