All posts by Botanical Interests

Pickled Red Beets

Pickled beets in jars and bowl

Tangy on a salad or crunchy in a sandwich, pickled beets are a kitchen staple for beet lovers. Our customer service manager, Dan Blei, shares his favorite pickling recipe.

  • 1 bunch red beets (about 6 medium to large beets). Bulls Blood, Detroit Dark Red, or Early Wonder work well for this recipe.
  • 1 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 2 cups cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 cups water
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 ½ tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried tarragon
  • ½ teaspoon black peppercorns
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • Thoroughly scrub the beets and chop off tops.
  • Bring a large stockpot of water to a boil, and drop the beets in. Allow beets to cook until they are tender and can be pierced with a fork, about 30-40 minutes.
  • Remove beets from water and allow them to cool before peeling skins off.
  • Slice beets into disks and layer into 8-ounce Mason jars, alternating layers of onions and beets.
  • Combine liquid ingredients, sugar, and seasonings, bring to a boil, and boil gently, uncovered, for 10 min.
  • Pour hot pickling liquid over beet and onion layers and place jars in the fridge.
  • Allow about a week for beets and onions to pickle.
  • Store in the refrigerator and enjoy for up to 3 weeks.



Favorite Heirloom Stories

heirloom on seed packet

One of the reasons I started Botanical Interests was to continue the tradition of passing down gardening and plant knowledge to future generations of gardeners. Heirloom varieties fall into that same romantic notion—knowing that the seeds I’m sowing today are the “children” of the seeds sown generations ago. Whenever we find a good story, we include it on the seed packet. Here are some of my favorites.

Walla Walla’ onion: Peter Pieri, a French soldier, brought Italian sweet onion seeds from the Island of Corsica to the Walla Walla Valley in Washington in the late 1800s, hoping to sell them as green onions. Unfortunately, Pieri wasn’t able to sell the whole crop, so much of the onion crop was left in the field over the winter. He was surprised that the onions survived the winter, growing into a robust, large, slicing onion, and reseeded the following summer, making ‘Walla Walla’ one of the most cold hardy onions!

‘Padrón’ chile pepper: The ‘Padrón’ pepper became well known as a Spanish pepper but it was actually brought from South America in the 1700s by Spanish monks who cultivated it at their monastery near Padrón. There is now an annual festival held on the first Saturday in August in the parish of Herbón, in Padrón, Spain where everyone can taste these famous peppers. There is a local saying, “Los pimientos de Herbón (Padrón), unos pican y otros no,” which means “Herbón (Padrón) peppers, some are hot, others not”.

Jimmy Nardello’ sweet pepper: Guiseppe and Angela Nardiello of Southern Italy grew this pepper each year in their homeland, and in 1887 they immigrated to Connecticut, bringing the seeds of their beloved pepper. Their son Jimmy continued to grow and preserve this unique variety, eventually sharing it with the public before his passing in 1983. Since its release, it has gained a big following of foodies, chefs, and gardeners alike. Over the years, the spelling of the Nardiello name changed, but the flavor of ‘Jimmy Nardello’ persists, gaining it an entry into Slow Foods USA® Ark of Taste catalog in 2005 as a cultivar to preserve due to its rich, unique flavor.

Miss Jekyll’ love-in-a-mist: Gertrude Jekyll was a 20th century, influential garden designer and botanical painter, who used her knowledge to experiment with garden designs, specifically with perspective and complementary colors. Maybe for this reason she preferred to call herself a “garden artist” rather than a “garden designer.” But it was in her younger years that she selected and bred plants, including the love-in-a-mist that bears her name, primroses, foxgloves, and lupines. And perhaps her name sounds familiar? Gertrude’s younger brother was friends with the author, Robert Louis Stevenson, who borrowed their name for his famous novel, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

Russell Blend lupine: This stately mix of lupines was developed after decades of breeding work by George Russell (1857–1951) of York, England. He grew several species of lupines and let the bees pollinate the flowers. At the end of each season, he saved seeds from the plants he liked, always removing the plants he felt were inferior. He did this year after year, keeping seeds from only those plants with denser, larger flowers in bright colors and fast maturity. Russell was rewarded for his work at the age of 80 with honors from the Royal Horticultural Society, and an MBE (Most Excellent Order of the British Empire certificate) at the age of 94. His breeding efforts made it possible for gardeners in mild climates to also enjoy lupines, as previously the available lupines needed a winter period to perform well.

‘American Legion’ flanders poppy: Long known as the corn poppy because it flourishes as a weed in the grain fields of Europe, the Flanders poppy as it is now often called, grew profusely in the trenches and craters of the WWI war zone of historical Flanders Field along the coast of Belgium and France. Lt. Colonel John McCrae, a Canadian Army field surgeon was inspired to write the poem, “In Flanders Fields” after the burial of his friend, Lt. Alexis Helmer who was killed in battle. The corn poppy has since become a symbol of wartime remembrance. The significance results from the fact that on the World War I battlefields of the Flanders region, poppies sprang up in abundance to blanket the fields with a sea of red. The red poppy is symbolic of the blood that was shed there. (368 U.S. soldiers from World War I are buried in Flanders Field cemetery in Belgium.) In 1920, the American Legion adopted this red poppy as its memorial flower. This packet is dedicated to those men and women who fought for the Allies during the two World Wars; as time passes, the number of men and women from that unique generation dwindles. We must not forget the lessons they learned. We must strive to hear the stories they tell, and respect the price they paid for future generations to be free.

Which are you favorites? Share with us!

Meatless Eggplant “MeatBalls”

Meatless Eggplant balls recipe

With purple being the new color of health foods, we’re celebrating! These meatless eggplant “meatballs” are savory, a little smoky, and light. Try them over pasta with a little Parmesan cheese, or in a pita pocket with Greek tzatziki sauce.


1 tbsp olive oil
2 eggplants, skin on, cubed
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 egg
1 bunch of flat leaf parsley
1/2 c bread crumbs
To taste:
Garlic powder
Onion powder
Salt and pepper


1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Sauté garlic in olive oil over medium heat for about 30 seconds.
3. Add eggplant and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes.
4. Add all ingredients to food processor and pulse and mixed. Do not purée.

eggplant balls recipe

5. Line baking sheet with parchment paper and make eggplant mixture into balls.
6. Place on sheet and bake for 10 minutes, then roll over and bake for 10 minutes more.
7. Place under broiler until crispy, another 5 to 10 minutes.

5 Gardening Resolutions for 2018

Garden planning and resolutions 2018

2018 is knocking at the door, and seed starting is right around the corner. Our holiday break gave me some time to reflect on how I can improve my gardening practices this coming year, in other words, resolutions!

  1. Get Organized

When it comes to getting organized, I always start out with a shopping list and a calendar. When I first started planning my garden years ago, these sowing guides helped me create my first planting calendar, and from there, I make tiny changes year to year based on my notes, like, “Sowed beans too soon; wait another week or use a soil thermometer to be sure.” I also record what I started and when in my garden journal, but where I need improvement is remembering to write down my gardening whims. The best part about gardening is the delight and creativity in doing the unplanned, but I typically forget to record it. The same goes for recording things like first blooms, butterflies, and harvests. Recording my garden observations will give me a fun goal for improvement in the following year and will slow me down and make me take time to observe the garden. So I don’t forget, I am putting my garden journal right by the back door next to my gloves and dirt-covered garden boots—voilá!

  1. Discover Something New

I have been gardening so long, I admittedly have a list of favorites. I love my tried-and-true varieties, but each year, I reserve some space to experiment so that I may find some brand-new loves! Keeping notes on these newbies will be especially important, too. Last year, I tried popcorn, but this year it may be our new Utrecht Blue wheat, Parisian Gherkin cucumbers, or a giant pumpkin! Just thinking about them makes me excited!

  1. Grow Natives

In the West (and everywhere), pollinator habitats and water resources are big issues. By adding natives to my garden collection, I am providing pollinators with high-quality habitat and food, while adding beautiful but tough plants that need less care and often, less water. Natives are a “win-win” for your home garden.

  1. Share More Veggies

This year, one of my resolutions is to grow more so I can share more of my vegetable and herb garden bounty with friends and the community. Fresh vegetables are sparse in the food banks, and since I have such a full, edible garden, it’s a no-brainer to give. Successive sowing of vegetables and herbs, keeps the harvest going strong all season, too. More to give! So, whether you grow extra veggies to give to food banks, practice Meatless Mondays, or just for the peace of mind of knowing where and how your food is grown, we can all benefit from making the edible portion of our gardens bigger. Check our Seed to Saucepan blog for some fresh recipe ideas, too!

  1. Container Gardening

I’m also going to add more containers to my gardening plan. I plan on mixing form and function by combining container-friendly vegetables, herbs, and flowers, celebrating the senses with scented herbs and blossoms that call in the pollinators for the veggies.  Containers also keep plants warmer in the summer, something peppers and other heat-loving vegetables will appreciate with our cool nights in Colorado, not to mention they creating cozy outdoor rooms, perfect for entertaining or just relaxing with family.

Phew! That’s a tall order of gardening resolutions, but I’m certainly up for the challenge. Our faithful customers inspire us, too! What are your gardening resolutions? Please share in the comments below.

Sprout Burgers

sprout burger recipe

Sprouts aren’t just for salads and sandwiches! Add your sprouts to a few basic ingredients and enjoy a nutritious meal in under 30 minutes. You can add any flavor profile you like—Italian, spicy, smoky—making this a truly versatile recipe.

1 cup radish sprouts, finely chopped
2 cups lentil sprouts, finely chopped
3 green onions, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
½ cup flour
¼ cup milk
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 teaspoon salt and pepper
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning (or whichever seasoning you like)
2–3 tablespoons of oil (olive or vegetable)

1. Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of oil to frying pan over medium-high heat.
2. Spoon mixture into pan in a round shape. 1 to 2 minutes on each side until browned.

Serve like a burger on a bun with the typical burger fixings, or without a bun and garnished with salsa and sour cream (as shown in picture). Makes about 10 patties, depending on size.

2018 New Seed Varieties!

Judy Seaborn 2018 catalog

Another year of gardening inspiration is just around the corner (I choose to ignore the cold weather that is coming), and I am so excited to share our 2018 new seed varieties with you! The new catalog should be turning up in mailboxes soon, but I can’t wait to give you a sneak peek at my new loves.

Chocolate! Well, chocolate isn’t a new love of mine, but some of our new “chocolate” varieties are. We’re excited for you to find a spot in your garden for Chocolate and Cream Love-in-a-Mist with its pure white petals and cocoa-colored stamens, breathe in the chocolate aroma of Chocolate flower, savor the Chocolate Cherry tomato (it’s gracing the catalog cover this year) that you won’t be able to resist eating right from the garden, and revel in the Chocolate Gardener’s Scrubbing Soap.

We strive to add varieties that are not only successful for home gardeners like you, but that are also unique. Two new heirloom peppers have us dreaming up new recipes–Shishito’ chile pepper and Jimmy Nardello’ sweet pepper–while rich and dramatic flowers have us craving the boldness of color–Black Velvet Nasturtium and Shock-O-Lat Sunflower. The three new sprouts, Purple Kohlrabi, Ancient Grains Mix, and Red Clover keep my Botanical Interests Seed Sprouter very busy!

I’m so happy to share the catalog, because we couldn’t do any of this without you! Throughout the catalog, you’ll read customer testimonials about their favorite variety that inspires them–the color and dimension of sunflowers, the majesty of amaranth, and the incredible length of squash and tomato vines. The catalog also has new tips and growing information! You’ll find how to successively sow lettuce for salads all season, the best way to transplant tomato seedlings, and a little trick to sowing flower mixes (you’ll have to read the catalog!) We also added some fun facts, like the history of sweet peas, how cosmos got its name, and why some peppers are spicier than others.

We know you’ll find something you’ll love to grow this year!

Butternut Squash “Noodles” with Kale

botanical interests butternut squash noodles

While our first love will always be traditional pasta, we can’t stop thinking about veggie noodles! It’s just what it sounds like–noodles made from thinly-sliced vegetables as a pasta substitute! In this recipe we used a spiralizer, a tool that easily cuts vegetables into long, thin ribbons, but you could also use the thin-strip setting on your mandoline.


4 tablespoons butter, divided
2/3 cup diced yellow onion
8 ounces sliced mushrooms
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups chopped kale
2 cups spiralized butternut squash


1.Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a pan on medium heat. Add onions and cook until translucent.

2. Add mushrooms and cook until browned. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add kale and cook until slightly wilted.

saute kale and mushrooms

3. Meanwhile, cut and peal butternut squash.

butternut squash

4. Spiralize squash.

spiralize butternut squash

5. In a second saucepan on medium to high heat, melt 2 tablespoons of butter and sauté the butternut squash noodles. Cook until al dente.

6. Gently fold all ingredients together.


5 Favorite Ways to Enjoy Roasted Garlic

Botanical Interests roasted garlic

Arguably one of the best ways to eat garlic is roasted. It’s mild enough to eat straight from the oven on its own, but packs a flavor bomb when mixed with other foods. We collected our favorites to inspire your next

Basic Roasted Garlic recipe:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Cut the top of the garlic bulb to expose the cloves. Place the bulb on a piece of foil and heavily drizzle olive oil over the exposed cloves; add salt; wrap tightly in foil. Place on baking sheet and cook in the oven for about an hour or until cloves are browned and can be easily squeezed out of their skin.

how to roast garlic

Ways to enjoy:

  • Mashed potatoes: Our absolute favorite way to use roasted garlic cloves is in mashed potatoes. Mash the garlic cloves and mix into boiled potatoes before they are whipped. It’ll incorporate the flavor into every bite.
  • Garlic bread: This is a no-brainer! Blend the garlic into butter and spread over loaf. Sprinkle with mozzarella or Parmesan cheese (and fresh rosemary!) and bake or broil until crispy. Perfect addition to your Italian night dinner.
  • Salad dressing: Use an immersion blender to whip up several roasted garlic cloves, red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, honey, lemon juice, olive oil, and salt and pepper. We love ours over a fresh arugula and endive salad.
  • Deviled eggs: Mash cloves and add into your usual (or unusual!) deviled egg recipe. What a pleasant surprise for guests at your next party or brunch.
  • Hummus: Throw some roasted garlic cloves in the food processor with chickpeas, lemon juice, and tahini. Devour with crackers or cut, raw veggies.

roasted garlic recipes

Spinach, Sausage, and Tortellini Soup

Spinach Tortellini SoupFor gardeners, the arrival of fall can be bittersweet. It’s rewarding to finally harvest all that you’ve worked for, but that also means our growing season is coming to an end. So we cooked up this savory soup to use our garden spinach in, and to enjoy as the days get cooler.

4 sausage links (we used chicken apple), cut into half circles
1/2 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons flour
6 cups chicken or vegetable broth
10 ounces fresh or frozen cheese tortellini
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
8 ounces fresh spinach, chopped
Salt, and pepper to taste


    1. Sauté sausage, onion, and garlic in olive oil in a large pot until sausage starts to brown, about 6 to 10 minutes. Add flour and stir.
    2. When flour is browned, about 1 to 2 minutes, add broth and mix well (you may have to use the spoon to scrap the brown bits from the bottom on the pot, but that is where the flavor is!)
    3. Bring broth to a boil and then add tortellini and cook until tender, about 10 minutes, or if frozen, until they float to the top. Add Parmesan cheese and fresh spinach. Cook until spinach is wilted, only a few minutes.
    4. Top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and serve with crusty Italian bread.


Botanical Interests Spinach Bloomsdale Botanical Interests Spinach Matador Botanical Interests Baby Greens Spinach

Summer Fun in the Trial Garden

Every year we go to garden shows where we “ooh” and “aah” at the gorgeous, the unusual, and the unique, and yearn for a big enough space to grow them all. Alas, we must choose only those that most capture our attention, and bring back the seed with growing anticipation. Then, when the time is right, we sow them in our trial gardens, to see for ourselves how they perform.

Our seed buyer, Alex, has a rich history of market farming, so he is our guy for our on-site trial garden. He “fixes” the soil, sows the seeds, and tends the plot, with a little help from other staff members. We all provide encouragement, of course! And there is no shortage of volunteers to test out that new tomato, or corn, or pepper.

We’re growing some of our new varieties this year to make sure we deliver the high-quality product we promise. These can be found in our 2017 catalog, or on our website:

Hollyhock Outhouse Several of us couldn’t run fast enough for the seed after seeing this glorious display of old-fashioned hollyhocks.

Pea Sugar Magnolia What a beautiful color in a snap pea, and the blossoms are equally as appealing.

Sunflower Schock O Lat Shockingly beautiful, isn’t it? And sunflowers are so easy to grow, everyone should!

This summer we are also trialing some special things that look very promising for a future season. Color and form are catching our attention in a mix of burgundy and lime green celosia with red and golden plumes bursting forth; a small, adorable zinnia with quite bold colors; gomphrena in hot pink and creamy white; an interesting grass that is reminiscent of fireworks; and a stunning sweet corn that has striking, deep burgundy stems, tassels and husks, with contrasting white kernels!

Stay tuned!