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.

Growing Dandelion from Seed Posted on 3 Jan 15:12 , 0 comments

Dandelion isn't just a pesky garden weed.  Did you know that eating Dandelion can actually be good for you?

At Mary's Heirloom Seeds we carry Dandelion Seeds.

Chicory greens have long, broad, dandelion-like leaves with an asparagus-like flavor. A rapid grower, the leaves and tender spring stalks can be used as early greens.
Germination: 45-70 days
Days to Maturity: 52-80 days 

About Dandelion
Dandelion greens contain vitamin C, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, thiamin, riboflavin, beta carotene and fiber. They are actually more nutritious than most of the fruits and vegetables you can buy in the grocery store.
It is also touted as being beneficial to your liver, kidneys, blood and digestion. Not to mention that it supposedly helps with acne, weight-loss, blood pressure and cholesterol levels. It is nearly a perfect food.

From Global Healing Center
Highly nutritious and known to treat a variety of ailments, dandelion is a great plant to grow in your garden. From heart problems to acne, liver diseases to eye conditions, most people are unaware that this weed has higher amounts of potassium than bananas and more vitamin A than carrots. Dandelion is also reported to have anti-rheumatic capacities. It is also a powerful diuretic with additional laxative properties. Good for hepatic and gallbladder conditions, digestive complaints, as well as general constipation.

Growing Dandelion from Seed
Because dandelion is considered a weed, it doesn't take much effort to grow.  If you're looking for a low-maintenance garden green.

Plant seeds directly in the garden 1/4 inch deep in the soil in single rows, about 8 inches.  Plant the dandelion seeds in early spring in well-drained, fertile soil.

Harvesting Dandelion
Never harvest dandelions from a location that is near a road or has been treated with pesticides or other chemicals.  Harvest leaves as needed when they are a usable size.

Helpful Links

Growing Garden Huckleberry from Seed Posted on 3 Jan 14:16 , 1 comment

 Garden Huckleberries produce fruit the first year which is why they are a great berry to try in your home garden.
Baby Garden Huckleberry

I grow everything from seed!  It's not that difficult and that way I know exactly what I'm getting from start to finish.  All of the seeds I plant (from Mary's Heirloom Seeds) are untreated, organic, non-gmo heirloom seeds.

Starting Garden Huckleberry from Seed Plant seeds in moist soil and cover with approx 1/4 inch of soil.  Seeds should germinate within 2 weeks.  Seedlings should receive at least five hours of sun every day.  I start seeds in my laundry room where I have large windows and plenty of space.  Once the seedlings grow about 2 inches tall they will be transplanted to large pots. 

Plants should be bushy.  This one needed more fertilizer or compost.
Growing Conditions for Garden Huckleberry
Garden Huckleberries like rich soil and partial shade.  Adding compost or chicken manure will increase the plant yield.  I plant my Huckleberry when I plant my tomatoes and fertilize the same as well.  Growing Huckleberries are very easy and not much bothers the plant.  The plants have some cold tolerance and fruit may continue to ripen after light frosts.

Small basket of berries from 1 bush
Green fruit are mildly poisonous, just like potato leaves or green potatoes. The fruits do not taste like much when picked, sometimes they can can be bitter. A pleasing berry taste does come through surprising well when it is cooked with  sugar. It can be used as a viable substitute for blueberries in pies, jams and syrup.

This year I have found several tomato hornworms on my huckleberry plants.  I recommend planting Borage (an edible herb) around your Tomatoes AND Huckleberry plants to deter hornworms.
THESE are Tomato Hornworms and they get even bigger!

Diatomaceous Earth will help with any aphid issues you might have in the garden. 

Garden huckleberry can be mistaken for deadly nightshade, which is poisonous, so make sure of its identity before eating. I grow mine from a trusted seed source.
• Garden huckleberry's self-sown seedlings will provide you with new plants. Pull out all unwanted seedlings each year or they'll be everywhere. 

Harvesting Garden Huckleberries
Pick the berries when they are no longer shiny; ripe berries are usually a dull black or blue-black. 
Cook the fully ripe berries before eating; they may need a pinch of baking soda to remove bitterness. Add sugar to taste and some freshly grated lemon zest and lemon juice to brighten the flavor.

You can purchase heirloom Garden Huckleberry seeds

from Mary's Heirloom Seeds. That's all for now!  Any questions?

Growing Cauliflower from Seed to Harvest Posted on 3 Jan 13:47 , 0 comments

Although the Cauliflower is part of the Cabbage family, Cauliflower usually require more attention.  Cauliflower takes up quite a bit of space in the garden.
Purple of Sicily Cauliflower

Cauliflowers are a cool weather crop. Hot temperatures can reduce head development. In summer you can cover the head with the plants leaves.

When growing Cauliflower, the soil should be prepared well in advance, especially if you are enriching the soil with organic matter. If you are sowing the cabbage seeds in spring, prepare the soil in autumn by digging in plenty of well-rotted compost or manure.  The soil should have been dug deep. Cauliflower grows well in loamy, well drained soils.

Sow the seeds at 1/4-1/2 inch deep.  About 6 weeks after sowing the seedlings they should be ready to harden off before planting out. Harden the seedlings off a week before planting out by gradually increasing the amount of time the plants are left outside and the amount of sun the plants receive.
Snowball Self-Blanching Cauliflower

Companions for Cauliflower
Peas, beans, celery, oregano
(Peas and beans help fix nitrogen to supply to cauliflowers)

Do not plant cauliflower around Nasturtium, potato, strawberry and tomatoes  

My favorite cauliflower recipe:

"In the Garden" Recipes


Our Gift to You! (Seriously, don't miss this) Posted on 28 Dec 11:18 , 0 comments

Since I've had SO MANY requests via email, I decided to add the Special Announcement to our blog.
BONUS...Since I made a mistake in the original email, I am EXTENDING THE OFFERS thru JANUARY 10TH (not December! OOPS)

GLASS GEM CORN *one of my favorites*

Oops! Didn't mean to send 2 emails in one day.
THIS was supposed to go out this morning...
It's been an amazing year at Mary's Heirloom Seeds. We've added so many new, rare heirloom seed varieties and had so much fun sharing new growing tips and articles.
YOU have made this year even more special.
Now we have a special gift from Mary
(Yes, there really is a Mary)
I'm giving away more seeds and organic plant  food than ever before.
Details below...
Every single order between NOW and January 10, 2017 will be entered into a drawing for a $25 SHOPPING SPREE at
We will choose TWO different winners
BONUS, we have a bunch of free goodies to offer NOW thru *January 10*
FREE *extra* SEEDS with all orders over $10
3 FREE *extra* SEED PACKS on all orders over $50
2 ounces of HUMATE Free with purchase of Mary's Root Boost,

2 ounces of AZOMITE Free with purchase of ANY Organic Plant Food

FREE *extra* SEEDS with all orders of Coconut Coir Pellets
SALE on all sizes of Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth

*All offers above are available thru January 10*
**Shopping spree offer available for US residents and is applicable to all seeds currently available at Mary's Heirloom Seeds.  No rain checks**
NEW SEEDS added this month:


NEW Necklaces added over the weekend





Mary's Heirloom Seeds |
(760) 870-4555
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Mary's Heirloom Seeds, P. O. Box 3763, Ramona, CA 92065

"NEW" Heirloom Tomato varieties Added this Week Posted on 15 Dec 08:16 , 0 comments

We're so excited to announce more NEW (to us) Heirloom Tomato varieties at Mary's Heirloom Seeds!

Mary's Heirloom Seeds
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Helpful Articles     
December 15, 2016
Did you enjoy our recent article and tutorial about Making Your Own Elderberry Syrup?
That was fun!  Elderberry syrup is great to have around this time of year.

This week we've added quite a few NEW (to us) Heirloom Tomato varieties!
If you have additional question, please ask


*We're busy packing up new seeds this week and deliveries are a bit slower across the country.*

85-95 days. Indeterminate.  This heirloom tomato variety can grow to over 1 pound fruits and are delicious. They have brilliant, neon-green flesh with a strong, sweet, and fruity flavor, much tastier than most red tomatoes. This family heirloom from Germany is beautiful.

85 days.  Stunning, perfectly shaped, deep purplish-brown fruit that are almost black. A great variety for both home gardeners and chefs. This paste-type tomato looks like a Roma tomato but has the taste profile of a Beefsteak tomato, with sweet, rich, and earthy flavors.


70 days. This Oxheart type Italian heirloom has been a favorite in Italy for many years. Beautiful 12-oz. fruit have a delicious sweet taste; similar to the shape of a heart; great for fresh eating or cooking. Large vigorous vines.


70-75 days. Determinate. Here is a stunning tomato, an elongated paste tomato that is creamy white to pale yellow in color. The sweet flavor should be a hit with gourmet chefs. Bushy plants are quite productive.  Great for containers.

80-85 days. Indeterminate.  Produces large, up to 1-lb, creamy white fruit, this tomato is wonderful. The medium-tall plants are less viney and mature earlier than other white heirloom tomato varieties.
80-85 days. Indeterminate 
Hillbilly is a stunning bicolor beefsteak tomato, excellent for slicing. These hefty, yellow-gold 1 pound tomatoes are streaked with red on the blossom end. Hillbilly is sweet and juicy, great for slicing.
Heavy production means it needs sturdy staking.


90 days. Indeterminate.  This famous tomato has almost a cult following among seed collectors and tomato connoisseurs. They simply cannot get enough of this variety's amazing flavor that is so distinctive, sweet and smokey. 7-10 oz. fruit are a black-brick color.
Named in honor of Paul Robeson, an equal rights advocate. This Russian heirloom was lovingly named in his honor.
As this tomato variety originates from Russia, and sets fruits at lower temps, it is an excellent choice for cooler growing regions.

80days.  Indeterminate.  Plant produces high yields of large 4" long purplish-black plum tomatoes.  Delicious purplish, egg-shaped fruit are smooth and perfect.
This variety will make market gardeners and chefs happy, as this Ukrainian heirloom is at the top of its class and a favorite of our grower. The plants are very productive; fruit weigh about 6 ounces.

When to Plant Organic Garlic

When to Plant Potatoes

As always, if you have additional questions please feel free to ask!
This data has been compiled from our own research as well as feedback from our customers.
If you have additional questions please feel free to ask. 
Happy Planting,
Mary's Heirloom Seeds, P. O. Box 3763, Ramona, CA 92065

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BACKYARD GARDEN STARTER KITS & SEEDS Posted on 9 Dec 07:58 , 0 comments

We offer so many amazing Seed Combo Packs and Starter Kits at Mary's Heirloom Seeds.

However, we recently asked on our fb page what our customers would like to see in a combo pack.  Several stated that smaller combo packs and starter kits would be appreciated... So we added MORE!

Check out these NEW Kits!!!

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
Includes SEEDS from Mary's Garden Pack,
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


Looking to start a garden but not sure where to start?  Looking for a fun gift idea for just about any age?
You choose the seed combination using the drop down menu.
Each stater kit includes:
-12 Coconut Coir Pellets
-Plant Markers
-Basic planting instructions with detailed instructions available on our GROWING TIPS & VIDEOS page
1. Mortgage Lifter Tomato, Large Leaf Basil & Black Beauty Zucchini
2. Cal Wonder Bell Pepper, Large Leaf Basil & Tom Thumb Lettuce
3. Black Beauty Eggplant, Pink Icicle Tomato & Large Leaf Basil

 3 pack of Berry varieties for your backyard garden or homestead.  Individually packaged seeds.

One packet of each:
Indian Strawberry (100), Mountain Cranberry (50) and Blueberry (20)


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

Not new but should be mentioned are the original starter kits



Each kit includes
-20 coconut Coir Pellets
-Plant Markers
-Sowing and Growing Tips included

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Mary's 2017 Planting Guide for the US Posted on 27 Nov 14:53 , 1 comment

The official announcement was sent out today to our entire mailing list

Mary's Heirloom Seeds
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November 27, 2016
I know it's still 2016 but we have had so many request lately that we just had to share.

How is this different than our previous planting guides???

We've added a few new regions by request AND we've added quite a few articles from 2016

Now you can plan your 2017 garden from one convenient article link!
If you have additional question, please ask

MARY'S 2017


FLORIDA has been split into 3 sections for a more thorough planting guide



When to Plant Organic Garlic

When to Plant Potatoes

As always, if you have additional questions please feel free to ask!
This data has been compiled from our own research as well as feedback from our customers.

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

New Mexico Planting Guide 2017 Posted on 27 Nov 09:11 , 0 comments

As promised, we are expanding our vegetable seed planting guide and including NEW MEXICO.  This is one of many region-specific guides offered here at Mary's Heirloom Seeds.  Find a complete list on our Growing Tips & Videos page.

This planting guide is from the Old Farmer's Almanac for Albuquerque, New Mexico. From our 2016 Planting Guide, New Mexico falls into 3 different areas from our previous planting guide.
*The above region-specific planting guides are a bit more detailed than the list below*

New Mexico PLANTING GUIDE 2017

It is important to know your last frost date in order to determine whether to plant indoors or direct sow outdoors.

Eggplant, Leeks and Onions
Arugula, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Eggplant, Kale, Leeks, Lettuce, Onions, Peas, Peppers, Swiss Chard, Tomatoes and Turnips
Plant Herbs and Wildflowers
Arugula, Beans, Beets, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celery, Corn, Cucumber, Kale, Leeks, Lettuce, Melon, Okra, Onions, Parsnips, Peas, Peppers, Potatoes, Radish, Spinach, Summer Squash, Swiss Chard, Tomatoes, Turnips and Watermelon
Plant Herbs and Wildflowers
Arugula, Beans, Beets, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celery, Corn, Cucumber, Kale, Leeks, Lettuce, Melon, Okra, Onions, Parsnips, Peas, Peppers, Potatoes, Pumpkins, Radish, Spinach, Summer Squash, Swiss Chard, Tomatoes, Turnips and Watermelon
Arugula, Beans, Beets, Broccoli, Carrots, Celery, Corn, Cucumber, Lettuce, Melon, Okra, Onions, Parsnips, Peas, Peppers, Potatoes, Pumpkins, Radish, Spinach, Summer Squash, Swiss Chard, Tomatoes, Turnips and Watermelon
Plant Herbs and Wildflowers
Lettuce, Radish, Spinach and Swiss Chard
Plant Herbs and Wildflowers
Lettuce, Radish, Spinach and Swiss Chard
Plant Herbs and Wildflowers
Arugula, Chinese Cabbage (pak choy), Beets, Lettuce, Radish and Spinach
Plant Herbs and Wildflowers
Radish and Spinach


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