Very special thanks to Diana Sellers from The Artichoke at Grand Lake and The Saturday Morning Market for sharing this week’s Dig This column!

Hey Grand Lakers!

Hope everyone had a grand Father’s Day!  And are you having a fantastic summer?  I hope so because Saturday is the official beginning of summer.  Yep. June 21st is the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year, and the official first day of summer.

And the temperatures got a whole lot warmer this week, as though it couldn’t continue with the unusual cool temperatures we have had in May in June.  So get ready…I think we are in for some hot summer days!

How about that good soaking we had last Sunday morning?

Saturday Morning Market at Grand Lake

You can get awesome Grand Lake veggies at the Saturday Morning Market held at The Artichoke just North of Langley.

I don’t know how much we got, but it was more than a couple inches.  Again, it was like nature knew we needed a good soaking and one last cool day before the temperatures started hitting the 88 to 92 degree marks.

All I can say is the gardens are exploding with life!

And with all the rain I am getting the best onions I’ve ever had.  Onions need a lot of water to grow big and they are doing great.  The tops haven’t flopped over yet, indicating harvest time, so I’m just pulling one as I need it.

Monday night we had some roasted vegetables with our fish.  The potatoes, carrots, onions, green bells and squash were out of our garden and the broccoli was from the Market.  Wrapped in foil with a little seasoning and a pat of butter and you have a bundle of yummie!

Speaking of the Saturday Market, the Brandstetters gave me three bundles of beets they had left, so Sunday I decided to learn to cook garden fresh beets.  Folks, it was not that hard!

To make easy pickled beets, start with cutting the greens off (which can also be cooked and eaten but I didn’t go there yet).  Wash them good and boil them for about 20 minutes.  Set the pan in the sink leaving the water in the pan and put a scoop of ice in it to begin the cooling process.  Then using a paring knife you can just scrape the skin to get it started, and then slide the skins off with your fingers.  I used latex gloves, which I highly recommend to keep the purple stains off your hands.  

After peeling them, I quartered them and put them in jars.  To finish, mix two cups of the juice, a couple of tablespoons of sugar, a splash of vinegar and a tablespoon of pickling spice and bring to a boil.  Then just pour that mixture over the beets making sure you get some of the pickling spice in each jar.  Cool and put in the refrigerator and voila!  You have simple pickled beets that are awesome!  This recipe is not made for “canning” to put on the shelf.  It is made to be refrigerated and consumed in the next few weeks.

So all isn’t peachy keen out there. No matter what we do, there are going to be pests.

I spotted the ever hated squash beetles a couple of weeks ago so I immediately started my regimen of picking the adult beetles off and dropping them into a foam cup of scalding hot soapy water.  You will also see two of them stuck together and you know what they are doing…so check the underside of the leaves for clusters of tiny brown eggs.  I cut those off with scissors, trying not to destroy the whole leaf, and throw them in the cup.  It probably will never completely get rid of them, but it keeps their numbers down without using harsh chemicals.  

The Saturday Morning Market is teeming with local produce.  This weekend we will have potatoes, onions, green beans, squashes, cucumbers, broccoli, green tomatoes, pecans and blueberries.  And of course, fresh eggs, baked goods, hummus, grass fed beef, jewelry, pottery, etc. so cheers to summer!

Enjoy the Earth!  Diana