Monthly Archives: August 2014

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Dill Pickle Recipe

It is definitely produce-season at Lacoste; we’re continually receiving all sorts of local veggies and fruits, and some not-so-local fruits too (maybe one day there will be orchards of oranges and peaches here ;) ). All this produce means one thing to many people; myself included.  It is time to can all this summer-goodness so we can enjoy it long into the winter.

So far this year I’ve made both strawberry and raspberry jam, and have a bunch of peaches waiting in the fridge for me to tackle this week.  Salsa is on the horizon too, and likely some spicy beans. BUT the most important of all the canning I do is the dill pickles.  It is both the most important and the most work intensive.  Between washing and prepping the jars, the lids, and the cucumbers, peeling the garlic, and trimming the dill, making pickles it is definitely a two-person job.  Come to think of it, it is a three-person job, as these days someone needs to be on baby-sitting duty, to keep the little monsters away from the boiling, salty brine!

I wish I could share my recipe with you, as it is delicious, but it isn’t so much a formula as a general guideline.  It was given to me by a woman who worked in the nursery, and everyone loves her pickles, so my goal is to just make sure that they are as tasty as hers! Some years, depending on the freshness of the garlic and dill they may be more dill-y or more garlic-y, but they usually all are eaten by the time the next batch is ready!

Debbie’s Dill Pickles

Brine:

7 ½ cups water

7 ½ cups vinegar

½ cup salt

Fill the jar with as many cucumbers as you can, mixed with 2 dill flower heads, and 4 cloves of garlic.  Pour the brine to fill the jar, and seal up in whatever manner works for you!

Notes:

  • I make sure to use not only local cucumbers and dill (because they’re both plentiful this time of year, and so delicious!) but also local garlic.  I find its spicier, and more flavourful
  • To determine how many pounds of cucumbers to use, I usually assume that it’s a little less than the number of jars I make. i.e.:

30 lbs cucumbers = 26 Jars of pickles

(I used 12 bunches of dill and 16 bulbs of garlic)

  • I’m not sure if my method of sealing jars is safe from food-code violations, but the jars seal, and I don’t sell them.  I usually wash the jars in the dishwasher, and keep them in a 250° oven.  The lids I keep in a boiling pot of water.  After I pour the brine into the jar, I place the lid on, and while they cool, the button pops to seal them up.  I know there’s lots of ways to seal jars when you search google, but this works for me!

The occasional year when I’ve not made pickles, or run out early has convinced me that the effort is worth it, as I’ve yet to find a store-bought pickle that satisfies what I’m looking for in a pickle.  Hopefully this will be the year you try it out too!!  It’s fun and delicious, and make great Christmas gifts for neighbours, friends and co-workers!!

Red Lily Beetle

Red Lily Beetle

Have you spent any time browsing through our website? Under the “Garden Resources” tab,  Amy adds articles to help with many common gardening questions. While the Lily Beetle has not invaded my garden as yet, I know it has spread across the city like crazy! Here’s what she has to say about controlling it.

In the past few years more and more gardeners have been noticing lily beetles in their gardens. A small red beetle that resembles a ladybug without its black spots, and affects only true lilies (Lilium- daylilies, canna lilies, etc. are all of different families). The lily beetle has been working its way through Manitoba and seems to be getting worse every year. More questions about how to kill/prevent them have been coming to us daily.

From doing a quick internet search you will find a lot of tips on control and chemicals that are supposed to “kill” lily beetles. Many gadeners will find different methods that work, but then later find they have another infestation to deal with. Learning how to effectively control the beetles comes from understanding their life-cycle:

1. Eggs on underside of leaf hatch in about 1 week.

2. Larvae then begins feeding on the leaf. They will cover themselves in their own feces to keep predators away.

3. After about 2-3 weeks the larvae will drop to the ground to pupate. They are dark in colour and can be very hard to see.

4. After about another 3 weeks the adults will emerge from the soil and climb up the lilies. Here they will feed until fall.

5. Usually in August-September they will fly together to find new locations. They can over winter in the surrounding soil or plant debris. They usually do not mate until the spring.

Understanding this part about lily beetles can help us see what steps we need to take to effectively control them. The only control method that has seemingly been effective at keeping populations to a minimum (because it is becoming apparent that wiping them out completely is nearly impossible) is a multiple-step process. There are no known natural predators here or pesticides legal for use in Canada to help control them. The following is a list of steps that can be used to help monitor and control populations:

1. Monitor plants every couple of days. Part of their life-cycle might not be clear to you at that moment, or they may have flown into your yard since the last time you checked your lilies. Sometimes seeing the beetle or larvae can be difficult, but seeing the holes chewed in the middle of leaves is usually quite obvious.

2. Once you see them, make sure your neighbours are aware so they can keep an eye on their lilies as well. Start by picking them off and drowning them in a water and dish soap solution. Be careful, though, because when they fall to the ground they turn themselves over so you cannot tell their dark bellies from the soil.

3. Using a gloved hand (let’s face it- you probably do not want your hands full of beetle feces), scrape off the larvae into a bucket as well.

4. Sprinkle diatomaceous earth (a product found in some ant killers) around the soil at the base of your lilies. Make sure all areas are covered. This will prevent the new adults from crawling back up your plants.

Making sure to stay on top of picking them off, especially before they get a chance to lay eggs, will help keep them from continuing their life cycle near or on your lilies.