Ancient Seeds (part 2) Posted on 20 Jan 14:45 , 0 comments

From our first post Ancient Seeds,  The definition of an heirloom is a seed variety that is more than 50 years old.  Some prefer a variety that is over 100 years old. An heirloom seeds is NOT a GMO and is NOT a hybrid.
At Mary's Heirloom Seeds, we offer a few varieties than can be traced back as far as the 1700s!  It's true!  

The first variety I'd like to share is the SEMINOLE PUMPKIN.  
From Slow Food USA,
The Miccosukee name for this product is “chassa howitska” meaning “hanging pumpkin”. The reference is to the method by which the pumpkin grows, as the Seminole and the Miccosukee people would plant the pumpkin seeds at the base of girdled trees, so that the pumpkin vines would grow up the trunk, and the pumpkin fruit would grow to be hanging from the bare limbs. It was under cultivation by Seminole people before Spaniards arrived in Florida in the 1500s. Immigrants to Florida also adopted this cultivation method, producing hundreds of pumpkins per acre.
Next up is the MAYFLOWER BEAN
This is the bean that is said to have come to America with the Pilgrims in 1620. This old cutshort green bean has great flavor and the red/white beans are quite tasty. A long-time staple in the Carolinas.
It is also known as "Amish Knuttle" bean.

Originally from Virginia and traced back to 1845 (most likely grown and traded by Native Americans long before this).  Stalks grow 10-12 ft. tall producing 2 to 6 ears per stalk. Kernels are blood-red with darker red stripes, and occasional white or blue kernels. Great for flour, cereal, or roasting ears.

The Anasazi were Indians who lived in the four corners area (now Colorado, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico) dating back to 130 A.D.
Anasazi Beans were one of the few crops cultivated by the Anasazi. They were found in the ruins by settlers to the four corners area in the early 1900's
Here is a priceless heirloom that's one of the varieties that kicked off the heirloom movement. Its dramatic appearance of white heavily mottled in maroon is similar to that of Jacob's Cattle bean, but its history is entirely distinct, having been cultivated in the Four Corners region of the Southwest United States. The mealy texture makes it great for baked beans and casseroles, but it's equally good in soups and stews. 

an heirloom variety also known as Bohemian squash and Sweet Potato squash. - See more at:
An heirloom variety also known as Bohemian Squash and Sweet Potato Squash,  Introduced in 1890s.  Delicious, creamy sweet potato like taste.  Delicata has a fine grained, light orange flesh steamed or baked.

Delicata has a very tough skin which makes if perfect for baking on coals, on the grill or to just simmer in its on juices while in the oven.   This tough skin also serves as the perfect wrapper protecting it for up to 6 months in storage!  

A beautiful blend of brightly colored long ears, wonderful for fall decorations, and is great for popping. This beautiful corn was selected by Carl Barnes, a world-renowned Cherokee corn collector from Oklahoma.
Carl has helped save many of the Cherokee corns that came west over the Trail of Tears. Small kernelled variety makes surprisingly large pops, yielding for a low hull/ corn ratio. Great flavor. Highly ornamental, 5-7 in. ears have many shiny colors including red, blue, orange, white, and yellow. 6-8 ft. plants.
From Mother Earth News,  "Popcorn is thought to have developed in Mexico many thousands of years ago and then spread through the rest of North America and into South America. Some Native American groups may have been growing it earlier than other types of corn because of its many culinary applications. The Cherokee Nation probably acquired the popcorn through trade contacts with some other group, but they tinkered with it and made the variety what it is today. It’s different from most popcorns in that the kernels come in a rainbow of shades: yellow, white, purple, pink, blue, rose, red, black, olive, orange and more, which is why this corn is so popular as a decoration. A certain number of cobs will be almost uniform in color with dark reds or blacks predominating. These kernels can be set aside and grown by themselves, so that eventually you can have your own designer colors of popcorn."


This heirloom was brought from Tennessee by the Cherokee people as they were marched to Oklahoma by the Federal Government in 1839 over the infamous "Trail of Tears" that left so many dead and suffering. This prolific variety is good as a snap or dry bean and has shiny, black beans. Hardy, vining plants. 

From Vegetables of Interest, "One such story is that of a black bean grown by the Cherokee in the Carolinas which had no name other than "bean."  It  was carried by the Cherokee along their journey as a source of food and a token of hope.  Once in Okalahoma it was re-named the "Trail of Tears Bean" and has been maintained by the Cherokee since that time."
"Trail of Tears" beans

In case you missed it, our current Seed Project is the FREMONT BEAN.  Please read Saving the Fremont Bean.  If you sign up for our mailing list, you'll receive all of the updates.

At Mary's Heirloom Seeds we also offer a very unique selection of both Medicinal and Culinary herbs, some that have been used for centuries.

From our website:

All of the seeds listed are open-pollinated, non-gmo and non-hybrid, non-patented,  untreated, heirloom garden seeds.
Mary has signed the Safe Seed pledge.  
Most seed orders placed Monday-Thursday are shipped within 24 hours, (except for holidays)

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

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Saving & Storing Garden Seeds for Next Season Posted on 28 Oct 20:38 , 0 comments

We've had quite a few request about what to do with left over seeds.  At Mary's Heirloom Seeds, a packet of Snowball Self-Blanching Cauliflower contains 200 heirloom seeds. If you don't plant all 200, You can share them with your friends and family or you can store them for next season/year.

For the best germination rates, try to use all stored flower and vegetable seeds the next growing season. Seed health and viability goes down the longer the seeds are stored.

How long can seeds be stored?

From ehow, "Seed health and viability goes down the longer the seeds are stored. If you must store seeds longer, keep in mind that most types of seeds last approximately 3 years or less.
For flowers, annuals typically last anywhere from one to three years, while perennial seeds can get stored for two to four years. Regardless of the type of seed, the sooner it gets planted, the better.

If you plan to save your own seeds they should be from produce that is very ripe but not rotten.  Remember, cross-pollination is always a possibility when/if you plant in close proximity.

Seed saving is easy for varieties that "bolt" (flower and go to seed) such as Basil, Dill and Cilantro.  Allow the seeds to fully dry and store accordingly.

Pulp and Seeds removed
Cleaned and dried seeds from an Amanas D'Amerique A Chair Verte Melon

Storage Options
If you save seeds from your own produce, seeds should be completely cleaned and dry before storing.

Paper is the best storage option for seeds.  Packets should be labelled with date of storage and variety of seed.

If you are storing purchased seeds they have already been cleaned.  If possible, store seeds in their original packaging to avoid mixing up seed varieties.

Excessive heat, light and moisture can damage seeds and make them less viable.  Some people store their seeds in the refrigerator and that's just fine.  I prefer a cabinet or closet (not in the garage, around the oven or above the refrigerator.
Store seed packets in a glass jar and keep in a cool, dry, dark place.

I like to use these Purple Vintage Jars 

The purple jars are a bit darker than the regular jars and they're super easy to label.  Check em out at Mary's Heirloom Seeds, Heritage Collection Seed Saver Jars!

We've added a few new, medicinal varieties this past month.  Have you seen em?

Marsh Mallow
Did you read our article Mycorrhizae The Fantastic Fungus ?


I hope you have enjoyed our latest educational article.  If you have additional questions please feel free to contact us at

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