Garden and Orchard - Self Reliance - The Green Homestead

Mary’s Heirloom Seeds Interview

Mary from Mary's Heirloom Seeds

Interview & Giveaway with Mary from Mary’s Heirloom Seeds!

I’ve known Mary from Mary’s Heirloom Seeds as a gardener and blogger since early in my blogging career (2012). I’ve been using seeds from her company for years and have always had great harvests of delicious food from them. I’m proud to offer her products for sale through my website because I know that everything she offers is of the highest quality.

This post contains affiliate links to Mary’s Heirloom Seeds. You will not pay any extra if you purchase products through these links, but your purchase will help cover the cost of maintaining this website.

Mary's Heirloom Seeds

Getting to Know Mary’s Heirloom Seeds…

Hi Mary!

I’m super excited to talk to you about heirloom seeds! Tell me how you first got interested in growing heirlooms:

Hey Lisa! I’m thrilled for the opportunity to share.  Thank you.

I’ve been growing food since I was a kid helping in my Granny’s garden but I didn’t know about heirlooms specifically until I was an adult.  When I started getting more involved in my food and learning about commercial agriculture I started looking into heirloom varieties.  

I wanted a deeper connection with our food.

Mary's Heirloom Seeds

Some of my readers may not be sure what the difference is between heirloom seeds versus hybrids or GMOs…would you give them a brief comparison?  

An heirloom variety is open-pollinated and sometimes has a very rich history.  There is a debate among seed savers and heirloom enthusiasts as to the length of time a seed variety is considered Heirloom.  Some say over 50 years and some say over 100 years.

Heirloom seeds can be saved for many generations as they are genetically stable and produce true to type.

A hybrid variety is a cross between 2 different species. F1 hybrids are considered a first generation of the cross and are genetically unstable and cannot be saved for the next year to produce a second crop as they might not be true to type.

GMO stands for Genetically Modified Organism.  These are commercially available strains and are not sold to backyard gardeners or homesteaders.  GMO seeds are not bred in the garden but in laboratories using biotechnology like gene splicing. These genetic modifications can include animal and/or bacterial DNA.

Glass Jem Corn from Mary's Heirloom Seeds
Glass Jem corn from Mary’s Heirloom Seeds

Why do you think heirloom seeds are an important topic for sustainability?

Because Heirloom Seeds are genetically stable, they produce “true seeds.”  That means as a homesteader or backyard gardener, we can produce our own seeds year after year from our own harvest.  That’s not necessarily the case with hybrids.

How did you decide to start your own heirloom seed company?

We started Mary’s Heirloom Seeds back in 2011 with the goal to help people grow their healthiest most successful garden.  Our first offering of seeds was only 20 varieties. These varieties are still available today and we now offer over 700 seed varieties!

I wanted to help more people grow food!

A happy catnip customer 🙂

Does your company do anything to give back to your community?

Absolutely!  I personally volunteer at local schools.  I started volunteering when I was in Florida and I love it!  The looks on the kids’ faces when they get to play in the dirt, planting seeds and learning about food is amazing.

Mary’s Heirloom Seeds also donates seeds to school gardens, non-profit and community gardens as well as veterans groups across the US. In 2019 we donated to over 30 organizations and we expand on that every year!

Garden Gift Box

Does ‘Mary’s Heirloom Seeds’ do anything differently or offer advantages to your customers compared to other seed companies?

I’m not sure how we compare to other companies but I can tell you that we offer quite a few “perks” for customers.  For starters, our customers rave about our customer service. I grew up working with my parents at their small businesses and how you treat your customers was an early lesson for me.

I decided very early on that I wanted to operate as eco-friendly as possible.  For that reason, we do not offer a printed catalog. There are several free planting guides available on our website as well as articles and videos with tips and tutorials.

Our customers know that we are just a simple phone call or email away if they have garden or seed related questions.

Royalty Purple Podded Bean - The Self Sufficient HomeAcre

What is the biggest challenge you’ve encountered in selling heirloom seeds?

So far this has been an amazing adventure.  My biggest challenge is time. I would love to offer more video tutorials but seed orders and the garden come first.  My goal is to offer more helpful videos for our customers

What are your top 10 favorite heirlooms seed varieties? 

Now THAT is a tough question.  I posted a video and follow up article about my Top 10 Homestead crops. 

My top 10 favorites are:
Cherokee Purple
Blue Lake Bush Beans
Hubbard Blue Squash
Chioggia Beets (they look like a peppermint candy inside)
Jarrahdale Pumpkin (it’s a gorgeous blue slate pumpkin)
Rainbow Swiss Chard
Watermelon Radish
Black Beauty Zucchini (the absolute best producer)
San Marzano tomato
Glass Gem Corn

Check out Mary’s article Top 10 Homestead Crops and watch her video about her Top 10 Homestead Crops below…

Do you have any special tips for making the most of your heirloom vegetable garden?

I often tell new gardeners to plant more than you think you’ll need because because “nature happens.”  From L.I. Wilder, ‘Kernels,’ said Pa. ‘Four kernels. ‥One for the blackbird, One for the crow, And that will leave Just two to grow.’
[1941 L. I. Wilder Little Town on Prairie ii.]

Most importantly, don’t give up.  Every loss or “failure” in the garden is an opportunity to learn.  It’s all an adventure. Every day and every season is an opportunity to try something new and learn more.

What do you feel is one of the most pressing issues that gardeners face in the future? And how can growing heirloom seeds help?

We are seeing more crop loss and contaminated food from commercial agriculture.  This is one of many reasons we should all be growing something. We can’t all grow everything but we can all grow something.  If you don’t have space, getting together with your friends, family and neighbors would be a great opportunity to grow and share.

Heirloom seeds have withstood the test of time and they are the perfect seed for generations to come.  

You’re Sure to Love These Seeds!

I like the fact that Mary’s Heirloom Seeds offers a great selection of quality seeds for my garden. Since I’m also interested in sustainable living and business practices, I appreciate that she doesn’t send out printed catalogs or spend unnecessary funds on specialty seed packets.

Plus, I’m really happy to support a small business owned and operated in the USA! I’m sure that you will appreciate many of these perks, too.

Have you ever ordered seeds from Mary’s Heirlooms? Leave a comment!

Interview with Mary's Heirloom Seeds pin

45 Comments on “Mary’s Heirloom Seeds Interview

  1. I have used Mary’s Seeds for a while now and they are fantastic! Would still love to try the glass gem corn!

  2. I have ordered from mary’s heirloom seeds before. They are great seeds. The planting guides are invaluable. I have some rainbow chard growing from her seeds. It is great tasting and one of my favorite plants.

  3. I live in a forest. Are there good suggestions for permaculture seeds for a shady clay-soil forest? I know, tall order. This is a great post. 🙂

    1. Hi Jessie,
      Many greens do well in light shade… so do beets, broccoli, turnips, and peas. Some veggies will survive in shade but you should expect a reduced harvest from the sun lovers. Best wishes!

  4. I love the idea of having a giveaway for your heirloom seeds! I would love to try any of these: Blue Lake Bush Beans, Black Beauty Zucchini (the absolute best producer), or Marzano tomato.

  5. I love this seed company! Many unusual varieties and good instructions on the best practices to help your plants grow. I have never tried Cherokee Purple, and I think that my weather might be too hot for it. However, I wonder if I could plant in late summer or early fall because it is a beautiful tomato. (Also like that this is a woman owned business).

  6. I absolutely love Cherokee Purple and Blue Lake Beans and my just turned 7 year old today son loves them too!!!

  7. I would love to try Jarrahdale pumpkin and Glass Gem corn. I think they would both be beautiful additions to my garden.

  8. I have become so interested in heirloom seeds in the past year. I have trouble growing anything but I keep working on it and someday I’ll figure it out. I want to try some heirloom seeds in my garden next year. Maybe they’ll be my secret!

  9. I would love to try the Cherokee Purple, the Glass Gem Corn and the Jarrahdale pumpkins. I love Blue Lake Bush Beans and have planted them for many years.

  10. I’ve gotten the vast majority of my seeds over the past few years from Mary and they have always been a totally worthwhile purchase! I’d like to try growing the glass gem corn purely for its appearance – it looks magical!

  11. I would like to try Cherokee Purple
    Hubbard Blue Squash
    Chioggia Beets (they look like a peppermint candy inside)
    Jarrahdale Pumpkin (it’s a gorgeous blue slate pumpkin)
    and Glass Gem Corn.

  12. I’d like to try the San MArzano tomatoes. We don’t eat fresh tomatoes (I know, we’re weird) but I’d like to can some for sauces. From what I’ve heard, the San Marzanos are great for that.

  13. I’d love to try Jarrahdale Pumpkin, hubbard blue squash, Cherokee purple tomato, glass gem corn they sound so interesting. I’d also love to grow chioggia beets, san marzano and watermelon radish they are my favorites.

  14. All of the varieties you suggest are so colorful-I’d love to try them all! I am building a greenhouse be cause deer are such a problem here. What varieties would you recommend for this?

  15. Fall garden seeds would be a new challenge for me. Never had one, but would like to try one. Thanks for sharing with others. Blessings

  16. Gardening keeps me sane and I am expanding my garden this fall to grow more food to share with family and neighbors.

  17. Honestly, I’d love to try them all! But the Jarrahdale Pumpkin sounds like a very interesting variety to try thanks for the chance to win!

  18. Cucumbers are my favorite, so many things you can do with them. My husband is all about the peppers, the hotter the better.

  19. Thanks for the interview and giveaway. I am also doing some fall gardening this year. We’ll have to see how it goes.

  20. I used to garden with my mom when I lived in Iowa as a child. Now I live in the desert of Arizona, so wondering what would be a good choice to plant here, it’s so very hot and dry!

  21. I would love to try the San Marzano Paste tomato next year. I haven’t tried my hand at canning yet and I think this determinant variety would be a good place to start.

  22. I only recently discovered the beauty and need for heirloom seeds. When I first started gardening I used to stay away from them. This season I learned about true seeds, and the deeper flavor of their produce.
    My favorite are tomatoes and squash.

  23. I enjoyed this interview and I think it’s great how you go into schools. It interested me enought that I have now visited your website!

  24. I’m so glad I found your website! It’s important to me not to use GMO products, and I always enjoy planting and growing heirlooms — it’s like getting secret knowledge from the past and continuing a tradition. Keep up the good work!

    1. I would love to try the hubbard squash and the glass gem corn. They both look interesting and sound delicious.

  25. I would love to try the Black Beauty Zucchini, Glass Gem Corn, Blue Lake Bush Beans, Chioggia Beets, and the Jarrahdale Pumpkin. I just LOVE growing things and I want to learn how to harvest and save seeds

  26. Yay seed giveaway!!
    I would like to give a go with anything for a fall garden as I have never tried to plant a fall garden.maybe some greens or peas?

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