Growing Basil from Seed to Harvest Posted on 3 Jul 14:22 , 1 comment

Basil is a favorite for most home gardeners and homesteaders.  It's easy to grow and usually prolific.  At Mary's Heirloom Seeds, we offer quite a few unique varieties such as Dark Purple Opal Basil, Thai Holy Basil and even Lemon Basil.

Seed Starting Basics

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.

Licorice Basil


Caring for Basil

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.


Dark Purple Opal Basil grown in a container


Companion Planting with Basil

Plant with tomatoes, peppers, squash, oregano, asparagus and other herbs.  Basil can be planted with just about every veggie.

Basil is said to repel thrips, flies and mosquitoes.

Thai Holy Basil


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.


Ready for Recipes?

BASIL LEMONADE (text version




Homegrown Basil Walnut Pesto

Grilled Eggplant with Fresh Basil


If you have specific garden or seed related questions, please contact us via email at MARY@MARYSHEIRLOOMSEEDS.COM
Happy Planting!

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Seed Starting Basics Posted on 13 Feb 17:12 , 0 comments

We offer several articles with our own tips & tricks to seed starting but this one is a bit more in-depth.  We start planning and prepping for seed starting when it's still chilly outside.


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.

I highly recommend our article Seed Starting with Coconut Coir Pellets

We also have a video

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

Happy Planting!

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Cool Weather Crops Posted on 16 Apr 20:13 , 0 comments

It's been a bit chillier than normal so we're still able to plant a few more cool weather crops before it warms up.

Heirloom Radish is a favorite around here so we've added a few to our 99 Cent Seed pack sale!


Artichoke- plant in late fall or early spring.  Artichoke is a perennial so plant in a place you intend to keep for several years.

Arugula: 40-50 days

Asparagus - Seeds can take awhile to germinate so have patience.  Asparagus is a perennial so plant in a place you tend to keep for up to 20 years

Broccoli: 50-100 days. Tips:  The leaves of the broccoli plant are also edible.  Cook them up just like you would spinach or swiss chard.  Livestock enjoy broccoli leaves as well.

Brussels Sprouts: 90-100 days

Cabbage: 75-110 days

Chinese Cabbage: 21-75 days to harvest.  Also called Pak Choy or Bok Choy

Cauliflower: 80 days.  Too-high temperature can prevent head formation

Celery: 110-120 days

Cilantro: 30+ days.  An excellent option for a kitchen herb garden

Kale: 55-80 days.  Kale can continue to grow into warmer days.  Lacinato Kale is known to grow in warmer climates such as Florida, Texas and South America

Kohlrabi: 55-60 days

Leeks: 110 days

Lettuce: 25-60 days.  Lettuce is a great option for just about any time of the year!

Bunching Onions: 60-80 days

Snap Peas: 55-70 days

RADISH: 23-70 days.  Most radish varieties mature in as few as 30 days and are very easy to grow

Swiss Chard: 60 days.  Swiss Chard can grow in cool and warm temperatures.  It's a great crop to add to your food garden because it  can offer a continual harvest of 6 months or more

Spinach: 50 days

TURNIPS: 50-70 days.  I Love turnips!  The leaves are edible or feed them to livestock.  I use them instead of potatoes to make "home fries."

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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SPRING STARTER EXTRAVAGANZA Posted on 29 Mar 19:15 , 1 comment

It's officially SPRING and we're excited to help you grow a fabulous garden!

To help you get started we have a few amazing deals this week.

First is our 99 CENT SEED PACK COLLECTION.  You'll find regular every-day deals as well as limited-time offers on our 99 Cent Seed Packs page.

Don't miss out on these Yellow Pear Tomatoes

*SALE on starter kits thru April 5th*




Each kit includes:

-Seeds: Butterfly Weed, Plains Coreopsis, Echinacea Purpurea, Marigold and Lacy Phacelia

-20 coconut Coir Pellets

-Plant Markers

-Sowing and Growing Tips included



Each stater kit includes:


-12 Coconut Coir Pellets

-Plant Markers



-Basic planting instructions with detailed instructions available on our GROWING TIPS & VIDEOS page




Each kit includes

-Seeds: Speckled lettuce, Rainbow Swiss Chard, Tom Thumb Lettuce, Endive and Arugula

-20 coconut Coir Pellets

-Plant Markers

-Sowing and Growing Tips included




This is a great starter kit for your Kitchen Herb Garden.  Includes a full-pack of the following varieties: Genovese Basil, Cilantro, Dill, Oregano, Sage, Tarragon, Thyme

STARTER PACK option includes 24 coconut coir pellets, 7 plant markers and Garden Tools set



We're raising chickens here at Mary's Heirloom Seeds and growing extras for our birds.  Supplementing fresh, homegrown veggies and grains for our chickens is not only super healthy but it can also save a bunch on your feed bill!

This Combo pack includes:

2 ounces of Reid's Yellow Corn - Perfect for cracked or whole corn.  An excellent storage corn that produces loads of high protein kernels.  The staple of any scratch recipe. 

2 ounces of German Golden Millet - Easily cut and hung up in the garage for later use.  We tie these sprays of millet together, hang in the barn and throw the entire spray to the the chickens when we need it.  No need to thresh, and the chickens love it.

2 packs of Fordhook Giant Swiss Chard - huge chard perfect for poultry greens, which are absolutely vital to good growth, egg production, chick development and health.

2 packs of Connecticut Field Pumpkin

3 packs of Black Oil Sunflower - Large Sunflowers produces lots of seeds. High in oil, this seed is very beneficial to birds in every season.

*Includes Free Shipping on this pack*



Includes One packet of each:
   -Brandywine Tomato
   -Jalapeno Pepper
   -Ancho Poblano Pepper
   -Red Burgundy Onion


Make wonderful homemade Pizza fresh from the garden!
 One packet of each.  Includes:
   -Thessaloniki Tomato
   -Cal Wonder Bell Pepper
Option 1: Seeds only
Option 2: Starter Kit
Starter kit Includes 16 starter pellets, plant markers and 2 garden tools




You choose the seed combination using the drop down menu.

Each starter kit includes:


-8 Coconut Coir Pellets

-Re-Usable seed starter container

-Basic planting instructions with detailed instructions available on our GROWING TIPS & VIDEOS page



Includes SEEDS from Mary's Garden Pack.  Over the years I've tried new varieties in my garden.  This seed combo pack includes many of my favorites!
Includes One packet of each:
-Amana's Orange Tomato                
-German Giant Radish
-Anaheim Pepper                               -Detroit Dark Red Beet
-Jalapeno Pepper                               -Tom Thumb Lettuce
-Blue Lake Bush Bean                       -Purple-Top Whiteglobe Turnip
-5-Color Silverbeet Swiss Chard       -National Pickling Cucumber   

Companion Seeds: Borage, Nasturtium, Marigold Basil

Choose from 50 or 100 coconut coir pellets

10 plant markers

2 ounces Organic Neem Oil

1 pound Mary's Organic Plant Food

1 pound Azomite






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Starter Kits & Seed Combo Packs SALE Posted on 9 Nov 07:06 , 0 comments

Mary's Heirloom Seeds
Quick Links
Join Our List
Growing Tips, Tutorials & Videos   
November 8, 2016

All over the radio and around I'm seeing advertising for Black Friday sales and a few of my friends have asked if we're having one as well.
Well, the answer is NO...and YES!

This year, we're spending time with our families and not stuck behind a computer. 
Thursday we'll all get together at my sister's house and Friday I'm spending the day with my Dad, behind the counter at his retail shop.

We're starting a Sale TODAY that will run
thru Sunday, November 27th
*While Supplies last* 

Before we get to the Seed Sale, just a quick reminder. Our Gardens Fundraiser is going thru Dec 19th. We've added more items.
Check back often for more NEW Items and
Thank You for helping us help others!
SALE Ends November 27th
*Click the Images for complete details*

We've added Organic Plant Food samplers to 3 of our Combo Packs/Starter Kits AND they're On Sale!
(Bonus Plant food included)
(HUGE savings)
(Plant food available)
ALL of the Combo Packs and Starter Kits listed here are ON SALE NOW!

Sprout Jar
(Includes instructions)


The 6 Month SUPER Membership includes 8 seeds packs the first month and 2 seed packs each month for a total of 6 months. *Plus 4 packs of Organic Wildflowers* 

(That's Amelia, one of our chickens)
(Only 6 left)

If you have additional questions please feel free to ask. 


Happy Planting,


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

Mary's Garden Gift Guide Posted on 6 Nov 20:18 , 0 comments

Most of the items in our Garden Gift Guide are ON SALE thru November 27th!

You'll find complete details on our


Mary's Heirloom Seeds
Quick Links
Join Our List

November 6, 2017

Quite a few of our customers have asked for "kits" to make growing easier.  These kits make GREAT gifts for family, friends and co-workers!
was a huge hit with family and friends!

If you're looking for fun and unique garden gifts, Mary's heirloom Seeds has a few cool items! 

Mary's Garden Gifts
Under $20   

Make wonderful homemade salsa fresh from the garden!
One packet of each. 
Includes: Thessaloniki Tomato, Jalapeno Pepper, Anaheim Pepper, Red Burgundy Onion & Cilantro

Includes 6 varieties of individually packed Wildflower seeds. NEW Seeds for this combo pack!
French Marigold, Bachelor Button, Butterfly Garden, Queen Anne's Lace, Yarrow, Zinnia Mix   
Includes 6 varieties of individually packed EDIBLE Flower varieties!
A unique mix of medicinal herbs and companion plant! 
Borage, Calendula, Nasturtium, Purple Coneflower (Echinacea), Plains Coreopsis & Yarrow 
Over 700 Seeds!!  SAVE on GREENS when you purchase our combo pack!

If you love the sweet, juiciness of homegrown, heirloom tomatoes then we have a very special combo pack for you!   This combo pack includes
6 varieties of heirloom, organic tomato seeds. 
All individually packed, regular size seed packs.

It is an amazing experience to learn new things!
Each kit includes
Seeds: Speckled lettuce, Rainbow Swiss Chard, Tom Thumb Lettuce, Endive and Arugula
20 coconut Coir Pellets
Plant Markers
Sowing and Growing Tips included

It is an amazing experience to learn new things!
Each kit includes
Seeds: Butterfly Weed, Plains Coreopsis, Echinacea Purpurea, Marigold and Lacy Phacelia
20 coconut Coir Pellets
Plant Markers
Sowing and Growing Tips included

Each stater kit includes:
SEEDS (You choose)
-12 Coconut Coir Pellets
Plant Markers


Another request from our inquiry was starter packs for beginners.  We have offer several options and now we've added one more!
EACH kit includes one packet of Borage, Marigold, Genovese Basil and Nasturtium as well as your choice of the following Vegetable
Squash: Black Beauty Zucchini
Pepper: Cal Wonder
Eggplant: Black Beauty
-24 Coconut Coir Pellets
-Plant Markers

We also offer 3 Florida-Specific Combo Packs
The Florida packs are seeds only combos.  If you're just getting started, I would also recommend Coconut Coir Pellets and Organic Soil Amendments

2 of our most popular and beneficial combo packs:
 A few of our favorites: 
 For those of you just getting started and looking for guidance, we have created a special "kit" just for you.  This starter pack includes PRINTED instructions from some of our more popular articles and tutorials as well as seeds, germination supplies, organic pest control and organic soil amendments
An excellent starter pack!  Includes 10 varieties of organic, non-GMO seeds (25 seeds per pack), Coconut Coir seed starting pellets,  Plant Markers, organic plant food and detailed growing instructions
Organic, Heirloom, Non-GMO Seeds: St. Valery Carrot, Tom Thumb Lettuce, Roma Tomato, Black Beauty Eggplant, Blue Lake Bush Beans, New Jersey Wakefield Cabbage, National Pickling Cucumber, Early Scarlet Globe Radish, Yellow of Parma Onion and Black Beauty Zucchini
8 ounces Organic Plant Food 3-4-4
Options: 24 Coconut Coir Pellets OR 50 Coconut Coir Pellets
A more recent addition to our combo packs includes our homesteader packs!




Looking for DEALS on plant food? 
*Click the image or blue text for complete details*


COMBO: DIY Liquid Mix 
Combo pack of organic, essential minerals for healthy soil, strong plants and good yields. ***Individually packed***
These 4 varieties of organic soil amendments make up our   
DIY Organic Liquid Fertilizer Mix


If you have additional questions please feel free to ask. 


Happy Planting,


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

Seed Starting with Coconut Coir Pellets Posted on 25 Feb 07:31 , 0 comments

We've shared about Using Coconut Coir in the Garden here in several articles but we've had quite a bit of questions.  Today we're going a bit more in-depth.
First, Why do we use Coconut Coir instead of Peat?

Coconut coir growing medium comes from the coconut's fibrous husk (known as coir) that is bound together by lignin (known as pith). After the husk is immersed in water for 6 weeks, the fiber is extracted mechanically, and the pith is left behind as a waste product and stored in heaps to age. Since the pith comes from the fruit, it is quite naturally rich in nutrients. Coconut coir growing mediums are dehydrated and compressed into a compact form for easy handling. With the addition of water, coir expands to an easy to work with growing medium.

Unlike peat moss, which is highly acidic, coconut coir has a neutral pH level. Most garden vegetables and flowers grow best in neutral to slightly alkaline conditions. When you use peat to amend a garden bed, an addition of agricultural lime is often necessary to combat the higher acidity. With coconut coir, limestone isn't necessary unless the soil naturally has a higher pH level. Coir use results in both a monetary and a labor savings, since you don't need to purchase further pH amendments nor work them into the soil.

-Coir improves soil drainage in the bed while also helping to retain moisture in quick-draining soils. Since coir breaks down slowly, much like peat, it creates air pockets in the soil that allow excess moisture to drain away from plant roots. The coir itself holds onto some moisture so the drainage doesn't occur too quickly and the soil doesn't dry out completely. These dual drainage and retention properties allow coir to improve moisture management in both heavy clay soils and dry, sandy beds.

-Peat moss, which coir replaces as a soil amendment, takes centuries to regrow once harvested. Coir is completely sustainable since it is a natural byproduct of coconut harvests, and coconut trees produce new coconuts every year. Using the coir in the garden keeps it out of the landfill where it would otherwise go. Coir can take a century or longer to fully break down in these landfills, so it's more sustainable to use it to improve your garden soil.

Step 1: Take out your Coconut Coir Pellets.  I like to use a large tray

Step 2: Add water to tray and Coconut Coir Pellets.  Using warm water might help them "grow" faster.
Step 3: Add seeds to the hole and gently cover or "squish" coconut coir.

Step 4: Place in a warm sunny place and keep moist.  This is where the real growing happens!

Common Seed-Starting Issues


-Incorrect Temperature. Different seeds have different needs.

-Old Seeds. When properly stored seeds can have a very long shelf life. But the older they get, your germination rate will begin to reduce

-Incorrect Watering. Water in a necessity for all plants. In the germination stage you need to make sure you keep the soil evenly moist. If you water too much, you run the risk of your seeds rotting before they germinate. If you let them dry out, they will either never germinate or die trying!

-Planting Depth/Light. When you plant your seeds pay attention to your planting depth. This is important because if planted too deep you plants could run out of energy before reaching sunlight. Planting too shallow can lead to drying out. Some seeds actually need some light to germinate, so instead of digging them down you just press them into your soil.


Dampening off, is probably the most common disease when starting seeds. It’s a fungus that can attack the seeds as soon as they germinate or after the seedling has emerged. You will know this is what killed your seedlings when you notice dark spots on the stem right at the soil level and the seedling topples over and withers away.

-Don't over water

-Provide air movement.  A small fan will work

-Nutrients: Use a half-strength, organic fertilizer with tiny seedling.  Our DIY Kelp Meal Tea is a great option for tiny seedling.  You can use this as a foliar feed as well.


For coconut coir pellets, plant no more than 2 seeds per pellet for small seeds and only one per pellet for larger seeds.  If both seeds germinate, do not pull one out.  Pinch off one of the seedlings at the base to remove.  This will give the remaining seedling a chance to survive and thrive.
Once your seedlings are strong and roots start to grow out of the mesh, it's time to transplant them into the garden or into your containers.
Take the entire pellet and plant into the garden.  For healthier root growth and to give plants a boost, I add a tablespoon of Azomite into each hole and mix into the dirt before transplanting the coconut coir pellet with growing seedling. I also water with a diluted version of our DIY Kelp Meal Tea when I transplant to help with shock.
We hope you have enjoyed our in-depth article about Seed Starting with Coconut Coir.  If you have additional questions, feel free to comment below or send an email to


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NEW Seeds are 99 Cents A pack thru 1/14/17 Posted on 10 Jan 20:49 , 0 comments

99 Cent Seed pack Sale from Mary's Heirloom Seeds

Mary's Heirloom Seeds
Quick Links
Join Our List
January 10, 2017
I know it sounds crazy to offer a sale during our super busy season but I'm just SUPER EXCITED to offer these new varieties

If you have additional question, please ask
99 Cent Heirloom Seed packs

These are all new (to us) heirloom seed varieties added today.
Each variety listed below is ON SALE thru Saturday, January 14th at midnight EST

 Flame lettuce has a mild flavor and will add real color to any salad bowl.

Nice bush form that will not take up tons of space like the standard Buttercup form.
These turban type fruits have dark green skin with some light green/creamish lines running longitudinally.
Sweet, orange, string-less flesh. Usually between 3-4 fruits at 3 - 5 lb each. 
Great storage squash and a New England favorite.


 Neon, hot pink chard is so pretty and is perfect picked small for salads or larger for braising.

Ebony Acorn is a delicious dark acorn type squash that is early and second only in flavor to Hubbard.  It is adapted for use all over the United States.
Prolific 8' vines produce 1.5-2lb fruits that have thick walls and a small seed cavity. 
The flesh is deep-orange, fine-textured, tender, dry and sweet. 
More productive and larger-fruited than table queen.  Does well in poor soil conditions.

40 days.   A deep merlot colored leaf resembling an oak leaf with deep lobes. 
Excellent for baby leaf production.  Unlike some other reds, oakleaf maintains a mild flavor throughout the lettuce season.  Resistance to common mildews.
An old favorite summer squash from the South of France.  24-30" tall and 18" spread.  The flesh of this round, green zucchini is very tender and fine flavored, making it an ideal squash for stuffing.

JUST A REMINDER....This sale starts 1/10/17 and ends January 14th @ midnight EST

 MORE from our Growing Tips & Videos page!!!


As always, if you have additional questions please feel free to ask!

If you have additional questions please feel free to ask. 
Happy Planting,
Mary's Heirloom Seeds, P. O. Box 3763, Ramona, CA 92065

BEST VEGGIES FOR HOMESTEAD GARDENS Posted on 5 Jan 16:31 , 2 comments

I've shared previous "best of" articles from Mary's Heirloom Seeds such as Mary's Top 10 with Companions and Heat Tolerant Veggies.
But how about homesteaders?  Some of you, myself included, are growing to become more self-sufficient.  We're also working on a soil-prep article so stay tuned for that
What are the Best Veggies for Homestead Gardens?
I'm starting with Radish because it's one of the first crops to mature in our garden.  As long as your soil has balanced organic matter, Radish is an easy crop to grow and usually pest resistant.  The Early Scarlet Globe Radish is heat tolerant and matures in as little as 22 days. The German Giant Radish matures in as little as 29 days and can be harvested small and early or let them grow as large as a tennis ball (no joke.  I've done it)
For a mild flavor, the French Breakfast Radish is an excellent variety.  For a longer growing, spicy option, the Japanese Minowase Daikon Radish
If you're looking for a good dual-purpose crop, Beans are your go-to homestead crop.  Some varieties can be picked early as a snap bean or left on the plant to mature for a nice dry bean (for soups, etc).
An excellent Dry Bean options is the Blue Speckled Tepary Bean, which can be traced all the way back to the Mayans and was a staple for Native Americans.  Additional and delicious dry bean options include Cannellini, Jacob's Cattle and Red Striped Greasy Snap Bean
Th Scarlet Runner Beans make a great fresh bean or soup bean.
Greens are arguable one of the easiest varieties to grow.  Depending on the variety, they can give very successful yields for several months.  Most popular with our customers are Little Gem, Tom Thumb, Rouge D'Hiver and Parris Island Cos Lettuce.
While it's listed as a GREEN on our site, we're separating Swiss Chard from lettuce because it's a MUST on our homestead. 
-We use Swiss Chard fresh in our salads
-We give some away for my sister's goats and chickens
-We sautee swiss chard with garlic and onions as a meal or snack AND use sauteed swiss chard in crustless quiche. YUM!!!
ALL of the Swiss Chards are delicious but the Ruby Red and Rainbow Chard are our favorites.
Here's another dual purpose for your homestead.  Glass Gem corn for example is a great popping corn and can also be ground to make cornmeal.  Floriani Red Flint Corn is a very unique, strong variety for cornmeal.  Blue Clarage Dent Corn can be picked and eaten in the earlier stages or grown longer to use as a cornmeal OR chicken treat. Sweet Corn varieties can be used right away, frozen or canned.  So many possibilities!
Even the pickiest of eaters might enjoy a nice beet green salad.  We grow beets almost year round here on our homestead.  The tops make a great salad.  Beets can be eaten fresh, roasted or canned.  Most Beets mature in 50-60 days, and are somewhat pest resistant.  Even if bugs eat the tops, the bulb usually survives.  Detroit Dark Red, Chioggio and Golden Beets have been our best producers so far.  The Early Wonder is a great early maturing variety.
Onions take about 5 – 8 months to mature from the time the seeds are planted, so you’ll want to begin them early in January or February.  If you are in an area that gets frost in winter, plant them indoors in pots or in a greenhouse to give them protection. Bunching onions are a faster maturing option.
For an early harvest, the Thessaloniki and German Lunchbox Tomatoes are fantastic producers.
Determinate VS. Indeterminate Tomatoes
Determinate varieties of tomatoes, also called "bush" tomatoes, are varieties that are bred to grow to a compact height (approx. 4 feet). They stop growing when fruit sets on the terminal or top bud, ripen all their crop at or near the same time (usually over a 2 week period).
Indeterminate varieties of tomatoes are also called "vining" tomatoes. They will grow and produce fruit until killed by frost and can reach heights of up to 10 feet although 6 feet is considered the norm. They will bloom, set new fruit and ripen fruit all at the same time throughout the growing season.
Our all-time favorite, heavy producing tomatoes are Amana's Orange, Cherokee Purple, Green Zebra and San Marzano
Sweet, Spicy, Stuffing, Frying, Pickling and so much more!!!  Peppers are a great crop for homesteaders.  Our favorite for an all-purpose pepper is the Cal Wonder Bell Pepper.  For a sweet (big) pepper, we like the Quadrato D'Asti Giallo Pepper.
HOT peppers are tougher to pick.  We grow as much as possible for hot sauce, pickling and our Organic bug spray.
Jalapeno is a great mild hot pepper
Serrano is a great hot pepper
Corbaci is a new, mild-hot pepper that we're growing this year.
Habanero is a great HOT pepper
Ghost Peppers are the hottest pepper we carry and they are not to be taken lightly.  They can cause severe reactions/discomfort if you're not careful.
Summer squash are usually a faster maturing option.  Summer Squash take longer to mature but usually store for longer than summer varieties.  Squash is a great addition to your homestead garden since they are heavy-producers and make seed saving a bit easier IF you are mindful of cross-pollination.  Black Beauty Zucchini and Golden Crookneck are our homestead favorites.  Spaghetti Squash and Butternut Squash are Winter Squash favorites.
For Pumpkins, the Small Sugar Pumpkin is a must.  This is a great pumpkin pie variety.  
Give Peas a chance!  But first, decide what type of pea you'd like.  Southern Peas, also called Crowder Peas are not your garden variety peas.  Southern Peas are used like you would a dry bean.  Our homestead favorite is the Whippoorwill Southern Pea.  Then you have Garden Peas, also called Shelling Peas, and these are great for canning and soups.  Sugar, Snow and Snap Peas are useful for homesteaders as well.
There are so many unique veggies available, too many to list in a single article.  We've gone over a few of our favorites.  We'd love to hear from YOU about your favorite homestead crops.

Growing Watermelon from Seed to Harvest Posted on 3 Jan 15:21 , 2 comments

Does the thought of sweet and Juicy summertime Watermelon get your mouth watering?  We love watermelon!

Mary's Heirloom Seeds offers several varieties of Watermelon.
Golden Midget Watermelon
Planting Watermelon Seeds
If you have a short growing season or want to get a head start, plant watermelon seeds indoors in individual containers or pots. We recommend using coconut coir pellets, which can be planted directly in the garden with minimal transplant shock. Plant one to two seeds per pot. 
Sow watermelon seeds in hills or rows. For regular watermelons, sow three to four seeds per hill, spacing the hills eight to ten feet apart. Space the rows ten feet apart or more, if you have room. Thin watermelon seedlings in each hill, to two seedlings one week after they have germinated. When planting in rows, space the seeds four to six inches apart and thin seedlings to ten to twelve inches apart. For bush varieties, final spacing can be cut in half or even more if you are tight for space. 
Days to Germinate: 3-5 days
Days to Harvest: 65-85 days
Growing Conditions for Watermelon
Watermelon prefers full sun for healthy, strong vines. 

Companion plants for Watermelon

Planting corn with your watermelon will provide shade for the plants during the hottest time of the day. Allow about a foot between the corn plants so the watermelon plants still receive enough sun.

Young melon plants are susceptible to insect invasion, especially cucumber beetles. Once the plants mature, they can tolerate some leaf loss due to insects, but keeping companion plants nearby helps control swarms of pests. Cass County Master Gardeners recommend marigold, oregano and nasturtium as companion plants for melons. 

Diatomaceous Earth is a great organic tool to kill and deter pests.

Fertilize Watermelon as the vines begin to spread out and then again in a month.  Use Mary's Organic Plant food and Organic Alfalfa Meal Tea for all-around, organic nutrients.

Harvesting Watermelon
from,  Dr. Bill Rhodes, professor of horticulture at Clemson University, offers the following advice on how to tell if watermelons are ripe:
  • Thump it. If the watermelon sounds hollow, it's ripe.
  • Look at the color on the top. The watermelon is ripe when there is little contrast between the stripes.
  • Look at the color on the bottom. A green watermelon will have a white bottom; a ripe melon will have a cream- or yellow-colored bottom.
  • Press on it. If the watermelon sounds like it gives a little, it's ripe. (Rhodes doesn't like this method because it can ruin the quality of the fruit.)
  • Check the tendril. If it's green, wait. If it’s half-dead, the watermelon is nearly ripe or ripe. If the tendril is fully dead, it's ripe or overripe; it’s not going to get any riper, so you might as well pick!
  • Stems should be cut with a sharp knife close to the fruit.
  • Watermelons can be stored uncut for about 10 days. If cut, they can last in the refrigerator for about 4 days. Wrap tightly in plastic.