Thursday, February 27, 2014

MARCH Seed Starting for the US by Region

Mary's Heirloom Seeds Newsletter
MARCH Seed Planting Guide

Early Fortune Cucumber
Clemson Spineless Okra
Golden Beets
European Mesclun Mix

Sunday marks the beginning of March!  That means SPRING is right around the corner!  Below are suggestions for seed-starting in March by region.  You might be
Seed Starting Indoors if it's still cold outside.

We also have 7 NEW Heirloom Varieties available NOW!

MARCH Seed Starting by Region

Beans, Beets, Cabbage, Carrots, Swiss Chard, Corn, Cucumber, Eggplant, Kale, Lettuce, Melons, Peas, Peppers, Potatoes, Pumpkins, Radish, Radicchio, Spinach, Squash, Tomatoes, and Turnips. HERBS and Wildflowers!

Sow Outdoors: Beans, Beets, Broccoli, Cabbage, Carrots, Chard, Corn, Eggplant, Lettuce, Melons, Pak Choy, Peppers, Radish, Spinach, Tomato and Watermelon.  Herbs: Basil, Cilantro, Dill, Fennel, Oregano, Rosemary, Sage, Tarragon and Thyme.  Don't forget the Wildflowers!

Sow Indoors/Outdoors:  Artichoke, Asparagus,
Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Celery, Chard,
Fava Bean, Kale, Leek, Lettuce, Onion, Peas, Radicchio, Spinach and HERBS

Sow Indoors: Broccoli, Cabbage, Celery, Swiss Chard, Eggplant, Endive, Fennel, Kale, Leek, Lettuce, Onions, Pak Choy, Peppers, Radicchio, Scallions, Tomatoes  
Sow Outdoors: Arugula, Beets, Carrots, Asparagus, Collards, Endive, Lettuce, Pak Choy, Parsnips, Peas, Potatoes, Radish, Radicchio, Sorrel, Spinach, Turnips, Herbs: Basil, Chives, Cilantro, Dill, Parsley, Sage,
Thyme and Wildflowers!

Sow Indoors: Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower, celery, Chard, Eggplant, Kale, Leek, Lettuce, Onion, Pak Choy, Peppers, Radicchio, Tomato, Chives, Fennel, Parsley, Oregano, Sage, Tarragon and Thyme. 
Sow Outdoors: Arugula, Beets, Carrot, Lettuce,
Pak Choy, Peas, Radish, Raddiccio, Spinach, Turnips,
Outdoor Herbs: Cilantro and Parsley

Sow Indoors: Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Celery, Chard, Eggplant, Endive, Kale, Leek, Lettuce, Onion, Peppers, Radicchio, Scallion, Spinach and Tomato.
Indoor Herbs: Basil, Chives, Cilantro, Parsley, Rosemary, Sage, Tarragon and Thyme.

Sow Indoors: Broccoli, Cabbage, Celery, Swiss Chard, Eggplant, Endive, Kale, Leek, Lettuce, Onions, Pak Choy, Peppers, Radicchio, Tomato.  Indoor Herbs: Basil, Chives, Cilantro, Oregano, Parsley, Rosemary, Sage and Thyme.
Sow Outdoors: Arugula, Beet, Carrot, Lettuce, Pak Choy, Peas, Radish, Radicchio, Sorrel, Spinach and Turnip. 
Don't forget the Wildflowers!

Sow Indoors: Broccoli, Cabbage, Celery, Chard, Kale, Leeks, Lettuce Onions, Pepper, Radicchio, Spinach and Tomato.  Indoor Herbs:  Basil, Chives, Cilantro, Parsley, Rosemary, Sage, Tarragon and Thyme.
Sow Outdoors: Carrots, Peas, Radish and Sorrel  

Growing Tomatoes from Seed to Harvest
Organic DIY Pest Control Recipes
Growing Peppers from Seed to Harvest

All of the seeds listed are open-pollinated, non-gmo and non-hybrid,non-patented, untreated, heirloom seeds.
Mary has signed the Safe Seed pledge.  
Seed Orders placed Monday-Thursday are shipped
within 24 hours, except for holidays. 
Free Shipping on all Heirloom Seeds within the US!
There you have it!!!  What are YOU planting in March?
-Mary                                      Like us on Facebook

Mary's Heirloom Seeds

Find us at the Yellow Green Farmer's Market
Saturdays and Sundays from 8am-4pm

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Growing Eggplant from Seed to Harvest

Welcome to another installment of our 2014 Planting Guide!  I just transplanted a few eggplant seedlings into the garden today.  Being in South Florida we get a jump on "spring" planting.  If you'd like more growing info please feel free to sign up for our free e-newsletter. 

Eggplants can grow 2 to 6 feet tall, depending on the variety.  Eggplants take 60-80 days to mature depending on the variety.  Grow eggplant in full sun. Eggplant is not particular about the soil it grows in but will grow best in well-drained soil rich in organic matter.
When to Plant Eggplant
Eggplant is sensitive to cold (and extreme heat). It grows best where day temperatures are between 80° and 90°F and night temperatures between 70° and 80°F. Eggplant is best started indoors (or on a patio if it's warm enough) 6 to 8 weeks before transplanting into the garden.  Do not set eggplants out until daytime temperatures are in the 70° F range.

Starting Eggplant from Seed
I recommend soaking your seeds in water for up to 24 hours.  This can increase the amount of seeds that germinate and how quickly they sprout.  Use organic potting soil if you are seed-starting indoors or in small containers to be transplanted outside.  Sow eggplant seed ¼ to ½ inch deep spaced 4 to 5 inches apart.  Most eggplant seeds germinate in 6-12 days.

How to Plant Eggplant
Thin plants to 6 inches apart if the weather does not allow transplanting before plants grow 5 to 6 inches tall.  Set eggplants into the garden 18 to 24 inches apart. Space rows 24 to 36 inches apart.

Tips for Growing Eggplant
Do not over water or allow the soil to dry out. Once the soil has warmed, mulch around eggplants to retain soil moisture and an even growing temperature. Eggplants are heavy feeders prepare planting beds with aged compost and side dress eggplants with compost tea every 2 or 3 weeks during until the fruit has set.

Eggplant is easily grown in containers. Plants will grow in pots at least 12 inches across and as deep. Choose a smaller growing variety.
Companion Planting for Eggplants
Plant eggplant with amaranth, beans, peas, spinach, tarragon, thyme and marigold. Eggplant is a member of the nightshade family and does well with peppers as they like the same growing conditions.

How to prepare those Eggplants
I like to prepare eggplant by slicing thin rounds, grilling lightly on either side, drizzled with olive oil and a dash of salt and pepper.  It's SO EASY!!

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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Tuesdays with a Twist #47 is LIVE!

Good Morning and Welcome to another No Rules Party!

Yesterday I shared DIY Organic Pest Control Recipes and
Growing Peppers from Seed to Harvest
Definitely worth reading!

Back to the Basics

We're your hosts 
Joyce @ It's Your Life! 
and me...Mary @ Back to the Basics and Mary's Kitchen
And your Co-Hosts
Marci @ Stone Cottage Adventures
Angie @ God's Growing Garden
Please welcome new co-host for the month of February
Debra @ Ms Moozy's Open House

Each co-host will be sharing her own picks for Features. This gives everyone a better chance of being featured. Be sure to check all of our blogs to see if you were featured! 
My Features this Week are:

Natural Stomach Remedies from Katie's Farm

A Bit about Hugelkultur from 104 Homestead

If you've been featured we'd love for you to grab a button.

Back to the Basics

The party starts every Tuesday at 7am EST and will continue until Friday at 11:59pm.  Feel free to stop back any time and "like" your favorites.  Please visit other blogs if you have a moment. 
Share older posts as well as new ones.  No limit on links!
*Pictures should be your own* 
By linking up you give us permission to use these photos
 (with proper link backs) in our features.   And now for the party!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Planting Heirloom Peppers from Seed to Harvest

When to Plant Peppers 
Purple Jalapeno
If you live outside of Florida:  Start seeds indoors under bright fluorescent lights in early spring, eight weeks before your last spring frost date. If possible, provide bottom heat to keep the plants' containers near 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Make sure the seeds stay slightly moist. Seeds should sprout within three weeks. Transfer seedlings to larger containers when they are about six weeks old.
Don't set peppers outside until at least two weeks after your average last frost date, during a period of warm weather. Always harden off seedlings by gradually exposing them to outdoor weather a few hours each day for at least a week before transplanting them outdoors.
If you live in Florida, plant Peppers in January-early March.

Starting Peppers from Seeds 
I recommend soaking your seeds in water for up to 24 hours.  This has increase the amount of seeds that germinate and how quickly they sprout.  Use organic potting soil if you are seed-starting indoors or in small containers to be transplanted outside.  Whether you direct sow or plant in containers, plant pepper seeds approx 1/4 inch below the soil. Pepper seeds germinate in as few as 7- 21 days.
How to Plant Peppers

All peppers grow best under warm conditions, but gardeners in cool climates can keep peppers happy by using row covers. Choose a sunny site that has fertile, well-drained soil with a pH between 6.0 and 6.5. Loosen the planting bed to 12 inches deep, and thoroughly mix in a 1-inch layer of mature compost. Dig planting holes 12 inches deep and at least 18 inches apart, and enrich each with a spadeful of additional compost. Partially refill the holes, and situate plants so they are planted slightly deeper than they were in their containers. Water well. 

Chinese 5-Color Peppers

Harvesting and Storing Peppers

You can eat peppers when they are mature yet still green (green peppers), although the flavor and the vitamin content of peppers improve as they ripen to red, yellow or orange. Use pruning shears or scissors to snip ripe peppers from the plant, leaving a small stub of stem attached. Bumper crops can be briefly steam-blanched or roasted and then frozen, either whole or chopped. Peppers are also easy to dry. Dried peppers quickly plump if soaked in hot water, or you can grind them into powders for your spice shelf.

Pepper Growing Tips
Be careful with nitrogen when preparing your planting holes, as overfed peppers produce lush foliage but few fruits. Use a high-nitrogen fertilizer only if you're growing peppers in poor soil.
In cool climates, use black plastic mulch in addition to row covers to create warm conditions for peppers. In warm climates, use shade covers during summer to reduce sunscald damage to ripening peppers.

Provide stakes or other supports to keep plants upright as they become heavy with fruits. Cover surrounding soil with a mulch of clean straw or grass clippings so ripening peppers don't come in contact with soil, which can cause them to rot.
Always wear gloves if handling hot peppers, and avoid touching your eyes or nose. If you do handle hot peppers bare-handed, immediately scrub hands with soap and warm water, rub them vigorously with coconut oil, then wash them again.

Pepper Pest and Disease Prevention Tips
Tobacco etch virus (TEV), cucumber mosaic virus (CMV) and potato virus Y (PVY) can infect peppers grown in warm climates. Transmitted by thrips and aphids, these viruses cause leaves to become thick, crinkled or narrow and stringy.
Margined blister beetles may suddenly appear in large numbers in midsummer, especially in warm climates. These large beetles are black with gray stripes, and they devour pepper foliage. Handpick beetles, making sure to wear gloves to prevent skin irritation.  

Pepper weevils can also be a serious problem in warm climates. Clean up fallen fruit daily to interrupt the life cycle of this pest, and trap adult pepper weevils with sticky traps.
 Diatomaceous Earth is another great Organic solution to pest control.
DE kills aphids, white flies, beetles, loopers, mites, snails, slugs, leaf hoppers, and harmful pests. Sprinkle DE around the base of the plant as well as on the leaves. 

Companion Planting for Peppers 
 Tomatoes, parsley, basil, geraniums, marjoram, lovage, petunia and carrots. Onions make an excellent companion plant for peppers. They do quite well with okra as it shelters them and protects the brittle stems from wind.
Chili peppers have root exudates that prevent root rot and other Fusarium diseases. Plant anywhere you have these problems.
Hot peppers like to be grouped with cucumbers, eggplant, escarole, tomato, okra, Swiss chard and squash. Herbs to plant near them include: basils, oregano, parsley and rosemary. Never put them next to any beans, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts or fennel.  
Serrano peppers in the front and back, surrounded by Green and Purple Basil
Sharing Here and Wildcrafting Wednesday

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DIY Organic Pest Control recipes

Good Morning!!!  I had an absolutely amazing weekend at the Yellow Green Farmer's Market.  I had an opportunity to present Edible Gardening information as well and GMO VS. Heirloom Seeds info both Saturday and Sunday.  I'm working on a post that will share all of the info (and include pics).

Below are some of the DIY Organic Pesticide recipes that I shared over the weekend.

#1 Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth!  No preparations necessary!  
DE kills aphids, white flies, beetles, loopers, mites, snails, slugs, leaf hoppers, and harmful pests. Use DE inside your home, greenhouse or outdoors on fruits, vegetables, flowers, grains and grass. Apply *Food Grade* Diatomaceous Earth up to and including day of harvest.
Do Not use the stuff for Pools.  That is TOXIC!
Check out Using Diatomaceous Earth for Non-Toxic, Natural Pest control 

#2 All-Purpose Insect Spray from Organic Gardening
  • Chop, grind, or liquefy one garlic bulb and one small onion.
  • Add 1 teaspoon of powdered cayenne pepper and mix with 1 quart of water.
  • Steep 1 hour, strain through cheesecloth, then add 1 tablespoon of liquid dish soap (I use Organic Dr. Bronner's) to the strained liquid; mix well.
  • Spray your plants thoroughly, including leaf undersides.
  • Store the mixture for up to 1 week in a labeled, covered container in the refrigerator. 
Dr. Bronner's Unscented Baby-mild Pure Castile Soap (1 X 32 Fl Oz)

#3   Spray to Control Nematodes from Love to Know Organic
Nematodes are tiny parasitic worms that live in your soil. If you've ever grown tomatoes and found that the leaves were beginning to yellow and fall off the plant, then you have a nematode problem. While some nematodes are actually good for your garden, most are not. This mixture can also be used to spray on your plants to control grasshoppers and caterpillars.


  • 3 tablespoons of molasses
  • 4 cups of water


  1. Mix the molasses and water in a spray bottle and shake vigorously. Use warm water to help the molasses dissolve better.
  2. Spray the "Molasses Tea" on your soil around your plants every couple of days to keep the nematodes away.
I plant Marigolds all over the garden for organic pest control
#4 Companion Planting from Back to the Basics
Companion planting is based around the idea that certain plants can benefit others when planted next to, or close to one another.  Companion planting exists to benefit certain plants by giving them pest control, naturally without the need to use chemicals, and in some cases they can give a higher crop yield .

Generally, companion planting is thought of as a small-scale gardening practice, but it can be applied on larger-scale operations. It has been proven that by having a beneficial crop in a nearby field that attracts certain insects away from a neighbouring field that has the main crop can prove very beneficial. This action is called trap cropping.

Other ways that companion planting can be beneficial is to plant a crop like any Legumes, on an area where it will feed nitrogen into the soil, then it will not be necessary to use any chemical fertilizers for the next crop.

Sharing Here and Wildcrafting Wednesday

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Friday, February 21, 2014

Growing Tomatoes from Seed to Harvest

Are you planting Tomatoes this year in your garden?  Not sure? Let's Get Started!

There are two basic kinds of tomatoes: Determinate and Indeterminate. 

Determinate tomatoes produce the fruit all at once. These are typically bush tomatoes, and make the best tomatoes for container gardening. Since all the tomatoes are ripe within a short period of time, these are great plant choices if you plan to can or have a short tomato growing season.

Indeterminate tomatoes grow on a vine. They will produce all season until the first frost.

Preferred Growing Conditions
Tomatoes love sun, and lots of it. Determinate or bush tomato plants work best for tomato container gardening. Soil should be rich in organic matter. Compost works best mixed in with the soil, and is a great organic fertilizer.
Tomatoes tend to do well in soil that is a little acidic. Get a soil pH tester if you are unsure of your soil's pH level.
Mulch will be important around tomato plants. Since tomato plants prefer full sun, the soil will dry out. Mulch will help retain moisture in the soil.

Starting Tomatoes from Seeds 
I recommend soaking your seeds in water for up to 24 hours.  This has increase the amount of seeds that germinate and how quickly they sprout.  Use organic potting soil if you are seed-starting indoors or in small containers to be transplanted outside.  Whether you direct sow or plant in containers, plant tomato seeds approx 1/4 inch below the soil.. Seeds can germinate in as few as 3 days (when I soak) and as many as 10 days. 
Amana's Orange tomato (beefsteak) seedlings
How to Plant Tomatoes
Space out tomato plants 13 - 17 inches apart. Really just follow the planting instructions with the variety you choose. It will all depend on the variety of tomato you grow. You just want to make sure they will have enough room to grow and the roots not compete with each other. You can plant tomato seedlings after the last frost. Seeds can be started just before the last frost.
Tomatoes do well in raised beds. Rows should be 4-5 feet apart. But, don't forget that determinate tomato varieties grow well in containers, too!

Companion Plants for Tomatoes
Growing these companion plants around tomatoes will be helpful: Basil, chives, oregano, parsley, onions, carrots, asparagus, marigolds, celery, and geraniums.
Borage can deter tomato hornworms and is a must in my garden! 
Some plants actually are bad to the health of tomato plants.
Avoid these plants around tomotoes: black walnut, corn, cabbage, potatoes, kale, and rosemary.
Maintaining Your Tomato Plants
Not sure what to do in the meantime? You will most likely need to stake your tomatoes. Again, depends on the variety. Bush tomatoes may need to be staked or caged for support. But, indeterminate tomatoes, or vine tomatoes, will definitely need support since they continue to grow all season. A trellis works nicely with vine tomatoes or a tomato cage.
Should you prune tomatoes? Depends on who you ask! Suckers, or side shoots, grow in the "v" of the stem and branch. You can pinch them off or leave them. Leaving the suckers on produces more tomatoes. But these will be smaller tomatoes. If you have a large tomato plant, like the indeterminates, you might want to prune the side shoots here and there. But don't go hog wild, you want these plants to produce.

When to Use Organic Fertilizer
It's a good idea to use organic fertilizer in your garden, and avoid the chemicals around your food. Typically, tomatoes are fertilized every 3-4 weeks, with the first fertilization at planting. The next time you're ready to fertilize should be about the time the plant is bearing small tomatoes. Some determinate varieties will only be fertilized two times, since they produce tomatoes all at once.
Borage: an edible Herb
In my garden I use organic and mostly homemade fertilizers such as compost, worm castings and even banana peals (great source of potassium).

When to Harvest Tomatoes
Tomatoes take 60-80 days to harvest. Just pick them when they have turned their full color. You can pick them early and let them ripen in the windowsill. But, the best tomato flavor is one that has ripened on the vine.

Tomato Pests and Diseases
Keep an eye out for tomato hornworms. They are the large, beautiful (or ugly) green worms that blend nicely with the stems.  Plant borage to deter these worms.
Diatomaceous Earth is another great Organic solution to pest control. 
Sprinkle DE around the base of the plant as well as on the leaves.
Sharing Here and Wildcrafting Wednesday

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Is it Possible to Have Too Many Seeds???

HA!  That might be the most absurd question I've ever asked myself.  Really?

They say money doesn't grow on trees.  But I grow my own food and that's even better because you can't eat money.

Is it Possible to have Too Many SEEDS???
We say NO!  What do you think?
» View all deals
50 days. Little Gem bears dark green heads just 5 inches across and packed with tender-fresh sweetness!
Grow the sweetest, most tender butterhead (Boston) lettuce you've ever tasted!
Contains approx. 200 heirloom seeds

Easy to grow!  One of Mary's favorites!
Sweet and Juicy Heirloom tomato!

80-90 days.  Indeterminate. Plant produces good yields of large 5" orange beefsteak tomatoes. 
This very attractive heirloom tomato is named for the Amana Colonies, in Amana, Iowa.

Another of Mary's favorite heirloom varieties!

60 days.  This dark-green bean has been a favorite for over 40 years.  Heavy yield.  Matures its large crop early and all at once.  Stagger planting for longer harvesting.

Developed from the Pole Blue Lake.
Contains 45 heirloom seeds
For Seed-Starting and Planting tips check out our
 Garden Tips page and our blog  Back to the Basics!  
Early Market Specials

You don't have to live in the area to get our
"Farmer's Market Specials" 

This week we're giving YOU the opportunity to save on select varieties of Heirloom, Non-GMO seeds.  OR, come check us our at the
Yellow Green Farmer's Market this weekend for our Edible Gardening Presentation and FREE seeds!  Mary's Heirloom Seeds is in  Booth #281 
Sat & Sun from 8am-4pm.
NEW Heirloom Varieties available in SPECIALTY Heirlooms

All of the seeds listed are
open-pollinated, non-gmo and non-hybrid,
non-patented,  untreated, heirloom garden seeds.
Mary has signed the Safe Seed pledge.  
Seed Orders placed Monday-Thursday are shipped within 24 hours, except for holidays.

Shipping on Heirloom Seeds is Free within the Continental US!

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