Interview 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.
Mary’s Heirloom Seed offers over 700 varieties of heirloom seeds and she always has a great selection of seed packs in her 99 cent collection. In addition, you may order soil amendments, sprouting seeds, and much more.
Mary has always been easy to approach and has been happy to share seeds for giveaways! She’s an amazing lady and I am pretty jazzed to help you get to know her better. 🙂
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.
Getting to Know Mary’s Heirloom Seeds…
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
Every month we offer a unique 99 cent seed pack sale and those are VERY popular. As an added bonus, I like to include a free seed pack!
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 in 2020 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:
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
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. It’s great to have the option of choosing from the wonderful selection of Have you ever ordered seeds from Mary’s Heirlooms? Leave a comment!
In addition to writing for her own websites, Lisa has contributed articles to The Prepper Project and Homestead.org.
The author lives outside of Chicago with her husband, son, 2 dogs, 1 cat, and a variety of poultry.
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