Growing Catnip from Seed Posted on 5 Jun 07:22 , 0 comments

Catnip, or Nepeta cataria, is a common perennial herb plant. Native to the United States, and thriving in USDA zones 3-9. Catnip is pollinator friendly and said to repel deer.

Catnip grows to a height of 3 to 4 feet and has featherlike, light green foliage and small clusters of lavender flowers that grow on spikes.

A member of the mint family, catnip is also used in food and herbal remedies. For example, tea made from the leaves and flowers of Nepeta cataria is said to relieve coughs. The oil extracted from catnip plants is even used in natural mosquito repellents. And of course, our cats LOVE Catnip!

If you don't want this perennial plant to spread in your garden, it is best to plant in containers. Catnip can easily re-seed and take over a small garden plot.

Growing Catnip from Seed

For optimal germination, stratification is recommended for Catnip seeds. We have an in depth explanation of Cold Stratification in our article The Wonder of Seeds and Germination.

For catnip, seed sowing should occur after the seeds about been placed in a freezer overnight. After this period, allow the seeds to soak in water for a period of 24 hours. This will allow for easier and more uniform germination rates.

Once the stratification process is complete, sow in seed starting trays approx 1/8 to 1/4 inch deep.  Keep soil warm and moist.  Seeds should germinate in 5 to 10 days.

When your plants are ready to be transplanted into the garden, it is best to harden them off for a few days prior to transplanting.

Catnip plants do best in full sun to partial shade and are drought tolerant. Catnip can be watered regularly but does not do well in soggy soil. It's a pretty low maintenance plant and does not need to plant food/fertilizer.

Harvesting Catnip

Are you harvesting for your feisty feline? The best time for picking catnip leaves is when the plants are flowering, around mid-summer. This is when the compounds that cats love most are at peak levels in the leaves. Catnip leaves should be dry when you harvest so you minimize the risks of the harvest getting moldy.

Harvest stems instead of individual leaves. Catnip will continue to produce throughout the season.  Once you have harvested from your catnip plant, you can dry catnip leaves on the stems or removed the leaves to dry.  Place your Catnip Leaves on a screen or drying rack in a well ventilated area away from direct sunlight.

Store your fully dried leaves in an airtight jar or container.

For tea, mix 2 teaspoons of dried catnip leaves or flowers with 1 cup of boiling water. You can make your own teabags or use a tea ball strainer. "Brew" for several minutes. Optional: Add lemon juice and honey then stir and enjoy.


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

Growing Broadleaf Sage from Seed Posted on 30 May 10:40 , 0 comments

Broadleaf Sage, Salvia officinalis, Adds flavor to many meats, stuffing, vinegars and more! Also Called Culinary Sage, Broadleaf Sage produces aromatic, green foliage that is used in for it's culinary and medicinal properties


Depending on your zone and growing methods, Broadleaf Sage is a perennial and can be divided every 3 years. Sage thrives in hot weather.

Sage seeds can take 3 weeks (or more) to germinate even under optimal conditions. Patience is a must! Plant seeds shallow (approx 1/8 inch deep) and keep soil warm and moist.


Sage prefers full sun and well-drained soil.  Avoid overhead watering once seedlings emerge. sage can be grown in ground or in containers.

Companion plants for Sage include Tomatoes, Thyme, Brassicas, carrots and strawberries.


Harvesting Sage

Prune the heavier, woody stems every spring. For optimal growth/production, remove flowers as they appear.

Sage’s flavor is best when fresh, but it can be stored frozen or dried.  Simply snip or pinch off leaves to harvest. Sage leaves can be harvested and used fresh, stored in the freezer or dried for future use.

Some cooks blend the leaves with oil, pack the ground mixture into ice cube trays to freeze, and then transfer the cubes to a container.


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

Growing Sweet Marjoram from Seed Posted on 30 May 09:48 , 0 comments

Marjoram is an easy herb to grow and grows well in containers as long as the containers are at least 6 inches wide and have a drainage hole at the bottom. Marjoram can be used in many different culinary dishes such as salads and mixed in with vegetables. This versatile herb combines well with garlic, onions, thyme, basil, and bay leaves.

Sweet Marjoram seeds are tiny!

Plant seeds shallow (about 1/8 inch). Keep soil moist but not soggy. Germination can take 14 to 21 days under optimal conditions.

Sow seeds outside after your last frost date.  To get a head start, plant indoors under lights 8 to 10 weeks before your last frost date.

Whether you direct sow or transplant, Sweet Marjoram enjoys fertile, well drained soil and direct sunlight.

Harvesting Sweet Marjoram

Harvest marjoram when ball-like tips appear at the ends of the stems.  When the plant starts to bloom, cut plants back close to the ground to stimulate a new flush of growth

Leaves can be easily air-dried for later use, but this herb is at its most delicious when freshly harvested.


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

Growing Caraway from Seed Posted on 30 May 08:56 , 0 comments

Are you ready to expand your herb garden?

Caraway Seeds are a popular "spice" added to soups, stews, roasted potatoes and even cheese dips. Besides the seeds, caraway leaves are sometimes used as an herb, both fresh and dried, adding them to salads, soups and stews much like parsley. Caraway roots can be eaten similar to parsnips.

From Mary's Heirloom Seeds:

Caraway grows best in full sun, in a well-drained soil which is high in organic matter with a pH of 6.0 to 7.5. Seed can be sown in spring or early autumn. Caraway should always be direct seeded as seedlings do not transplant well.

Carum carvi  (Apiaceae —carrot family)

Caraway is a biennial herd that grows well in Zones 3 to 11. Caraway can tolerate both hot and cold weather and usually produces seeds in it's second year.  Caraway flowers in spring and early summer of the second year on 2-foot stems.


Growing Caraway from seed

Caraway can be planted in full sun but can tolerate partial shade.

Caraway seeds germinate in 5 to 14 days under optimal conditions.  Sow caraway outdoors in spring or autumn. For an early start, sow caraway in spring as early as the soil can be worked, about the date of the average last frost.

Sow seeds 1/4 deep and keep soil moist.

Caraway does not transplant well so it is best to sow outdoors if possible.


Companion planting with Caraway

Once in bloom, the plants will attract many species of predatory insects to control pest species. Plant near any crop that suffers from caterpillars (such as Brassicas) or aphids (such as peas).

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

*PRE-SUMMER SEED SALE* 5.26.21 Posted on 25 May 20:05 , 1 comment

The official start of SUMMER is June 21, 2021 and it's starting to warm up around here.  We are excited to offer a Pre-Summer Seed Sale NOW through May 31st, 2021 at midnight.

If you're not sure when to plant, you might want to check out our Comprehensive Planting Guide.  If you want to stock up on seeds, this is a great opportunity.

As an added bonus, we have a special code to take 10% off all SEED COMBO PACKS and Starter Kits

At checkout, use code: SEEDCOMBO21


Every order will include a FREE seed pack.  There's no special code for the free seeds.  We will automatically include the pack with your order!


You can click the image or the text of each seed variety/product to see the detailed info.  This time around, these seed deals are in no particular order. Let's get started!




































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

Growing Calendula from Seed Posted on 25 May 18:09 , 0 comments

Calendula (Calendula Officinalis) flowers are daisy-like and come in colors of orange or yellow with single or double rows of petals. The genus name comes from the Latin word “calendae”, which means “the first day of the month” as it flowers all year round.

Also called Pot Marigold, Calendula grows quickly from wild flower seed, blooms heavily, and then dies with the first heavy frost. It will grow in all regions of North America. Calendula is very easy to grow from seed.

Calendula is grown to attract pollinators and for it's medicinal uses.


Direct sow Calendula flower seed into prepared seed beds after all danger of frost has passed in the spring. Lightly cover the flower seeds with peat moss, and sow 6 seeds per foot. Thin to 8 - 12 inches apart.

Seeds can germinate in as few as 7 days and plants blossom 6 to 8 weeks later.

Indoor or containers:

Sow Calendula seeds seeds in cell packs or coconut coir pellets, press into soil and lightly cover. Kept at 70F, germination averages 7 - 14 days. 

Calendula prefers full sun, moderate water, and almost any soil with good drainage will work. Calendula flowers are long-lasting cut, and they attract bees and butterflies.

Once harvested, Calendula petals can be used to make your self-care products. I make Calendula Infused Oil.


Harvesting & Drying Calendula

You can harvest just the petals to use or the entire flower. The petals can be used in your homemade products and seeds can be saved for your next planting.

The best time to harvest Calendula is in the morning when the flower is fully open and dry. Snip off the flower head at the top of the stalk with scissors is the easiest way to harvest calendula. Once you harvest Calendula, lay out on a drying rack or screen in a well ventilated area and away from direct sunlight.

Make sure your Calendula is completely dry before storing. Store dried calendula in glass jars with airtight seals.


Recipe: DIY Calendula Infused Oil


VIDEO: Making Calendula Infused Oil




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

Growing Yarrow from Seed Posted on 25 May 17:38 , 0 comments

Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) Is a perennial herb often grown for it's medicinal properties.  Some consider it a weed.  Some gardeners grow Yarrow to attract pollinators.

From Mary's Heirloom Seeds:

Grows 2 to 4 feet tall. Beautiful when used as a dried flower. When young and tender, the fresh early spring leaves of Yarrow can be finely chopped and added to salads, soups, meat dishes, stir-fry and cooked beans. 
Also popular as an herb; used for colds, fevers, and for healing wounds

Yarrow is drought tolerant and can grow in both hot and humid climates.


From seed, Yarrow usually germinates in 14 to 21 days. Sow in containers or 6 cell germination trays for best results.  Lightly cover seeds and keep soil warm.  You can speed up germination by covering seed trays with a clear lid to maintain heat and moisture.

Tor transplant:

Plant in spring, spacing plants 1 to 2 feet apart. Prepare the garden bed by using a garden fork or tiller to loosen the soil to a depth of 12 to 15 inches, then mix in a 2- to 4-inch layer of compost. (compost is optional with yarrow)

Dig a hole twice the diameter of the pot the plant is in. Carefully remove the plant from its container and place it in the hole so the top of the root ball is level with the soil surface. Carefully fill in around the root ball and firm the soil gently. Water thoroughly.

Yarrow grows until freezing conditions set in. Plant hardiness zones 3-9.

The leaves, flowers and root can be used for medicinal recipes.  Yarrow is a fantastic addition to any herb garden!

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

Weekend Specials 5.14.2021 Posted on 14 May 16:01 , 0 comments

Hello and Happy Friday!

We have a special treat this weekend with seed specials, soil amendments and free seeds.

Let's get started!

These specials are valid from Friday, May 14th thru Sunday, May 16th at midnight.

FREE SEEDS...Every order this weekend will include a free pack of Lemon Basil.  There is no special code to enter.  Just checkout as you normally would and we'll automatically include a free pack.

$1 seed packs...










HEAT tolerant...

Clemson Spineless Okra

















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


Spring Homestead Giveaway 2021 Posted on 30 Apr 17:57 , 50 comments

As promised, we have another amazing giveaway to share!  This time we are joining several amazing bloggers and homesteaders to bring you some amazing prizes.


Before we get to the amazing giveaway prizes...

As an added bonus, Mary's Heirloom Seeds is also offering a special discount code to take 10% off all orders of $15 or more.  Use code SpringHomestead21 at checkout in the appropriate box to take 10% off all orders of $15 or more starting Mary 1st through May 9th.

FREE SEEDS! We will also include a free pack of tomatillo seeds as well as a free pack of pollinator-friendly seeds on all orders of $15 or more from May 1st through May 9th!

*We cannot apply the discount after you place your order*


Ready for the giveaway info? Let's start with the awesome prizes

Mary’s Heirloom Seeds

The winner will receive the Edible Flowers Combo Pack with a value of $14.95 and the Sunflower Seeds Combo Pack with a value of $9.50 from Mary’s Heirloom Seeds.

The Self Sufficient HomeAcre

The winner will receive a copy of The Beginner’s Guide to Backyard Homesteading paperback book with a value of $17.99 from Lisa at The Self Sufficient HomeAcre. New subscribers will receive a free copy of ‘How to Grow a Garden for Your Chickens.

 As an added bonus...

The winner will receive a digital copy of Recipes for Your Garden: Save Money & Create Natural Garden Supplies! with a value of $4.99… from Lisa’s Homestead Garden on Etsy. A Thank You coupon is emailed to anyone who favorites an item in Lisa’s Homestead Garden Etsy shop!


The Farm Wife

The winner will receive the Simple Home Finance Bundle with a value of $19.99 from Julie at The Farm Wife. New subscribers will receive a free copy of ‘Simple Life Finances: Taking Control of Your Money.’


It’s My Sustainable Life

The winner will receive a copy of the Canning Management Planner with a value of $4.50 from It’s My Sustainable Life’s Etsy Shop


Oak Hill Homestead

The winner will receive a copy of The Down to Earth Guide to Composting with a value of $3.99 from Oak Hill Homestead’s Etsy Shop

15 Acre Homestead

The winner will receive a copy of A Simple Guide to Plants for an Edible Food Forest ebook with a value of $5.99. All new subscribers to 15 Acre Homestead receive a free copy of Garden Resource Freebies Mini eBook. A Simple Guide to Plants for an Edible Food Forest is 20% off from May 1st through May 9th!


Homegrown Self Reliance

The winner will receive a copy of Raising Turkeys for a Natural, Self-Sufficient Lifestyle from Homegrown Self Reliance with a value of $3.99. This ebook is on sale for $1.99 from May 1st through May 16th!


Little Frugal Homestead

The winner will receive a blank Garden Journal with a value of $5.75


Now for the details...

  • Giveaway begins at 6 am CDT (central daylight savings time) on 5/1/21 and ends at 11:59 pm on 5/9/21
  • One winner will be selected at random
  • Winner must live in the 48 contiguous United States or District of Columbia and be at least 18 years of age. *MARY'S HEIRLOOM SEEDS SHIPS TO ALL 50 STATES, PR AND CANADA*
  • This one is important...If the winner does not respond within 48 hours, a new winner will be selected at random


Mary's Favorite Heirloom Varieties for 2021 Posted on 22 Apr 18:11 , 0 comments

A few weeks ago I was asked about my favorite heirloom varieties to grow.  That's a tough one because there are so many amazing varieties so picking out favorites took a little time to sort out.

CHEROKEE PURPLE TOMATO is hands down my favorite heirloom tomato.  In fact, it's my #1 favorite overall. It has a bold flavor and it's the perfect summer snack.  I can eat Cherokee purple tomatoes all by themselves.

If you've followed me on social media for any length of time you probably already knew this.

My second favorite tomato is the San Marzano tall vine.  This is an indeterminate variety and it's the ultimate sauce tomato

Swiss Chard is definitely my #2 favorite crop and one I recommend to just about everyone.  However, it's a tie between the Ruby Red and the Flamingo Pink.  Both are delicious and add vibrant colors to the garden.  The Ruby Red in my experience has been a bit hardier and produces a larger plant.

Jade Bush Beans are now my favorite even over the Blue Lake bush

Don't get me wrong, the blue lake is a staple in the garden but I had a tremendous year with Jade beans and the Dilly Beans we produced are/were amazing.



CHIOGGIA BEETS!!  These are beautiful on the inside AND the outside.  Beets are what I consider a "double Duty crop" because the leaves and the root are edible.  The bonus on this variety is the beautiful red/pink and white inside that looks kind of like a peppermint candy and they don't stain like red beets.  I've eaten them raw, roasted and pickled.

SQUASH- I've grown so many and love them all so this one is definitely a difficult decision.  For summer squash it's Benning's Green Tint scallop.  It's just more fun than the regular yellow patty pan.

Ronde de Nice is a close second because it's so versatile (stuff it/slice it/bake it). 

For a winter squash it's definitely HUBBARD BLUE

This one is on our website with me holding it up.  Blue hubbard is a "trap crop" but if you plant enough you;ll get a beautiful harvest.  You can use this variety in place of pumpkin for pie. Gete Okosomin is the most unique variety is winter squash we've grown.  The last batch didn't store as well as the Hubbard Blue


I get excited about these little globes of deliciousness.  From seed to harvest in 45 to 55 days.  You can eat them raw or roasted.  Excellent sub for potatoes if you eat low carb.

Casaba Golden Beauty Melon might be an unexpected one but it is lovely to grow in the garden and so juicy when harvested at the peak of ripeness.

Glass Gem Corn is not only my favorite but definitely a customer favorite as well.  Each ear is unique and colorful.  I have posted several videos on growing, harvesting and popping this heirloom corn variety.






I almost forgot about PEPPERS!  For a sweet, it's definitely Chocolate Baby Bell.  These are so small that it would take quite a bit for a large recipe but they are perfect for stuffed appetizers or eaten raw

For spicy I actually have 2!  The Yellow Scotch Bonnet is one that I love so much that I included it in several videos.  One was seed saving and another was fermenting peppers.  My fermented pepper salsa recipe is AMAZING

My second fave is the Peter Pepper.  It's a fun addition the garden and while HOT it's not as hot as the scotch bonnet


My favorite "snacks" in the garden are yellow pear tomato, nasturtium flowers and Borage flowers.

What about flowers?  No, I didn't forget about flowers.  As I mentioned above, Borage and Nasturtium are garden snacks.  They are also beneficial companion plants.  Calendula is another favorite of mine.  I don't think my gardens are complete without Calendula.

My favorite sunflower is Mammoth Grey Stripe.  This mammoth sunflower really lives up to it's name!

What are your favorite heirloom varieties?

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