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.

Baked Whole Pumpkin Soup

This whole pumpkin soup recipe creates a deliciously-elegant display on the dinner table. As is, the recipe is gluten free and simple to adapt for a paleo or vegan diet. Serves 4-6.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 whole pumpkin (or other round, winter squash), approximately 4–5 pounds, washed (we used a ‘Red Warty Thing’ winter squash)
  • 1–2 teaspoons unflavored oil for greasing pumpkin and baking dish
  • 1 tablespoon butter or cooking oil
  • 2 medium-large leeks, sliced (substitute 1/4 cup onion, diced)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 apple, cored and diced
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • ½–3/4 cup heavy cream or full-fat coconut milk
  • 2 ounces goat cheese, optional
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala (or other seasoning of choice)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 375°F.

 Make a lid on the top of the pumpkin by cutting around the stem at an inward, 45° angle. The lid should leave a large enough hole so you can fit your hand in, and work inside the pumpkin. Remove and discard (or save for roasting) the seeds and long fibers by scraping the sides of the pumpkin with a metal spoon. Apply a bit of oil to the outside of your pumpkin and to a baking dish it can sit in, using a brush or paper towel.

Put the butter or oil, leeks, garlic, apple, broth, and salt in the hollow pumpkin. Replace the lid of the pumpkin to cover. Bake for 1 hour and 45 minutes.

Remove the pumpkin from the oven. Using a hot pad, remove the lid, and wait until the pumpkin is cool enough to work in. Using a metal spoon scrape the pumpkin flesh into the soup mixture, being careful not to puncture the pumpkin shell. If you are using an immersion blender add the cream, goat cheese, and garam masala (or chosen seasoning) to the pumpkin and purée, being careful to avoid puncturing the pumpkin wall. If using a blender, put all ingredients in the blender in small batches, blend until smooth, and return soup to the pumpkin shell. Add pepper and check seasonings. If you are not serving the soup right away, store the pumpkin and soup separately in the refrigerator. Reheat soup inside the pumpkin at 375°F.

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.

INGREDIENTS:
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)

DIRECTIONS:
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!

Decorate for Fall with Dried Corn

Homegrown decorative corn comes in a variety of rich colors that make an eye-catching fall decoration when dried. It looks great alongside pumpkins in a fall centerpiece or display. You can store the dried corn for use as a decoration year after year or grind the beautiful kernels into flour.

Dakota Black makes great popcorn after dazzling a fall display with jewel-like, blackberry-colored kernels.

Corn Popcorn Dakota Black

Bloody Butcher is an historic jewel toned dent corn that has been grown in Virginia since at least 1845.

Corn Dent Bloody Butcher Organic

Strawberry Popcorn dresses up a fall centerpiece with petite strawberry-shaped ruby red ears.

Corn Popcorn Strawberry

How to Dry Corn

Let the ears dry on the stalks. They are ready for harvest when the kernels are hard and you can no longer leave a mark on them with your fingernail. Before the first fall frost, give each ear a twist until it breaks off. Peel back the husks, then hang the ears in a cool, dark, place for 4-6 weeks to cure. This is important to prevent mold. To strip of cured kernels, twist the cobs back and forth to loosen them (gloves are recommended).

We’d love to see how creative you get with your dried corn. Hashtag your creations with #botanicalinterests on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Stop and Enjoy the Wildflowers

In the words of the late, great Tom Petty, “You belong among the wildflowers… Far away from your trouble and worries / You belong somewhere you feel free.” Whenever I hear this song, I picture myself among gently swaying blooms that form a new, unique tapestry, every day, without fail. Wildflowers are the details along a well-beaten path that make it seem somehow different and interesting every time you visit, not only by their blossoms, but through the rainbow of pollinators and other wildlife visitors they call in and sustain.

I have been reflecting on how our lives have become so busy, and I wish I could slow us all down so we could experience the wildflowers hitting that reset button in our brains. I may not have figured out how to slow down the entire world, but what I can do is provide native wildflower seeds (and easy growing instructions) so you can create a little retreat of your own.

Native plants are among the most care-free of any blooms you can grow. They are tough and able to grow without much attention, including being drought tolerant, which gives you more time to enjoy them. Natives provide pollinators with high-quality pollen and nectar too, so a native garden bed is also a pollinator garden.

For me, fall is naturally the time to think about revamping an area or filling in an empty space. Wildflowers are inherently adapted to being sown now—how convenient for me! Plants in their native habitat bloom, form seeds, drop those seeds sometime from summer to fall (depending on the species), and then the seeds rest until spring when conditions are just right for germination. Fall sowing is done!

When prepping your own, native retreat, do thoroughly weed and loosen the soil surface and place or rake seeds in. Winter snow and rain will work the seeds into the soil, so no need to work the soil too deeply. Our late spring storms are usually enough so I don’t have to water, but if you have a dry spell in spring keep an eye on the soil moisture and water as needed. Natives wildflowers grow well in average or even poor soils, so there is no need to amend most soils. You can choose a number of species with different bloom times so your space is always colorful, but be sure to put full-sun varieties in 6 or more hours of sun so they stand tall, rather than reaching for more light.  Once seedlings are all up and have put on some growth, say the end of June, I like to toss some mulch around the sprouted plants to help keep weeds down.

After that, I add a chair, and give myself some time to stop and smell the wildflowers.

Do you have any native garden tips? Please share them in the comments!

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.

Ingredients:

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

Directions:

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.

 

Tulsi Holy Basil Tea

Give the gift of holy basil tea to warm up autumn’s chill.

Holy basil, also known as tulsi, is believed to have medicinal properties that could aid in treating the common cold, inflammation, digestive issues, and numerous other conditions. In the holistic health community, it has received significant attention for its stress-reducing benefits, as well.

Basil Holy Tulsi Organic

Although holy basil can be used in cooking, the unique flavor is best enjoyed when the leaves are dried and steeped into an herbal infusion. We’re making holy basil tea sachets to give as gifts this fall. For tips on drying herbs, visit Herbs: Tips for Preserving.

Supplies

  • 1 tsp. dried holy basil leaves per sachet
  • Empty tea sachets (You can find these at a tea store or gourmet grocery store) or a small, glass jar

  1. Fill empty sachets or jars with dried holy basil leaves. Pull string taut to secure tea leaves inside sachet or secure lid on jars. Each should have about 1–2 teaspoons of dried holy basil.
  2. To make the tea, steep 1 teaspoon of dried leaves in 1 cup of boiling water for about 5 minutes. Try mixing in lemon juice, cardamon, honey, ginger, cinnamon, milk, or pepper to create your own special tulsi tea blend.
  3. Enjoy!

We’d love to see how creative you get with your holy basil tea gifts. Hashtag your creations with #botanicalinterests on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

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

Plentiful Pleasing Poppies Next Spring

‘Black Swan’ Poppy

Fall is a great time of the year to reflect on your garden and write down some new ideas for next year. And I have poppies on the brain! What’s great about poppies is their diversity—all shapes, colors, sizes, perennial, annual— I love them all! Regardless of their annual or perennial status, they do best when sown in place, and by sowing this fall, seeds are primed for the earliest possible germination next spring. Poppies are quite cold tolerant and you may be surprised how early they come up.

Mission Bells Poppy Blend

Sowing Poppies
Choose a full-sun to part-sun area and consider the height of the poppies and any neighboring plants so none of the flowers get overshadowed. All I really need to do for soil prep is to get rid of weeds, dig out rooted perennials, and scrape away wimpy annuals. Poppies are happy with near neglect; they are drought tolerant, and do fine in poor soils but need good drainage. I scratch the surface of the soil with a hard rake to loosen the top ½”–1″, leaving the surface fluffy but level. Then I’m ready to sow! Poppy seeds need light to germinate, which means they need to be close to or on the soil surface. I usually just broadcast the seeds (adding a few extra in case birds find them), rake them in very lightly, and I’m done! Late winter and spring precipitation usually provides enough moisture to germinate seeds next year, but if I have a dry winter I will water these seeds come spring. (P.S. You can also sow in raised beds to improve the drainage of your soil.)

Oriental Blend Poppy

I am already imagining all the beautiful blooms I will be seeing next spring and summer! Poppies aren’t the only flowers that germinate best after the chill of winter. Read more about Fall Sown Flowers for ideas on what you can sow now.