Preparing to Persevere

February arrives, and as has become our way of doing things here at monsterinthecorner, the advent of Lá Fhéile Bríde saw us sow our first seeds of the year.
The days are just a little longer; and whatever sunshine there is now seems a little more  luminous than January’s weak offering.

This year’s early February temperature is as expected for time of year, and the 5-7 day forecast suggests much the same in the short term, with westerly air flow and rain.
We sowed some pots of basil and popped them onto the bright windowsill. We sowed trays of onion seed, summer cabbage, kale, spinach and both Cayenne and Californian Wonder peppers.

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some of this year’s stock

Mrs. Dirtdigger planted up some pots of Spraxis corms. She set some late garlic into terra firma, and we also set a new rose bush in-situ; and with that simple half-hour’s activity the monster’s annual cycle is set in motion for 2019.

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The potted Red Barons

We have a plan; and without a plan there is nothing to adapt. The monster’s plan is always simple and hopefully productive. We use a practical approach to all interference with the monster’s measure fully aware that perhaps not everything we have sown this week will germinate, just as there will be no guarantee that anything we plant in the coming weeks may actually flourish or grow.

And so we’ve begun this year’s sowing diary , now active on the menu above

We shall contend with and deal with all those challenges the coming seasons send our way. We’ll protect against hail and late frosts, just as we’ll cope with the slugs, beetles, sawflies and other winged pests as they present themselves, for although some consider gardening/allotmenteering the gentle pastime, it is not so tame an undertaking; where would the challenge be if it were so?
And so we’re off; off again for another year, with mitts and caps and fleecy gear; winter- washing plums and pears; preparing to move up a gear as better days are drawing near;  Preparing for expected success, but mostly preparing to persevere.

Cold Water Morning…

It’s been cold and grey, and it’s been frosty and sleety and occasionally wet-snowy. It is late January and winter has finally shown its face. All the surprising early unseasonal growth is stopped dead in its tracks, and the precarious plans we had been toying with for attempting some groundwork on the monster’s measure have been consigned to winter’s reality box. After a very mild early winter, normal service is resumed and with that the most that can be hoped for is that we do not get a late winter cycle of weather events the likes of those experienced last year.

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Winter’s dust

So, we’ve been busying ourselves otherwise; updating and tweaking the Monster’s log, giving it a new look to carry us into the New Year and seasons ahead. As part of this design we’ve now incorporated a new drop-down recipes menu into which we will post those recipes we have developed for the dishes we prepare using all of the fabulous bounty the monster affords us each year. We began by populating the menu with some of those culinary compliments more accessible this time of year i.e. the sauces and chutneys and salsas currently stocked in the Monster’s larder, and as the seasons progress we shall update with seasonal recipes using the monster’s own fresh seasonal fare as it becomes available and in doing so expand the scope and remit of the Monster’s Log to a more fully rounded Sow–Grow-Cook-Eat experience, a little something to further whet the appetite if you will, of all those who land here!
We emptied the seed drawers and storage boxes, and we have had to be ruthless in our dissemination of the stock therein: any and all seed stock more than one season past sow-by has been composted. We always use 100% fresh seed for certain sowings of parsnips and carrots and celery; and where some seeds may still possess a certain degree of viability the following year or years even,- especially floral stock– with fruit and vegetable seed we generally opt for the greater germination success rate by using fresh seed to begin with. We were still surprised by the number of opened and half-used packets of seed that we had put into storage during the previous year or so, and we determine not to be so cavalier in discarding future seed stocks opting perhaps to put them the way of some local seed swap before the seasons pass and drift into each other.

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Date checking the seed stocks…

We plan a venture into one of our favourite retailers next weekend to purchase what we need, and Mrs. Dirt-digger is reminding ourselves that this year we need to cultivate more in the way of leafy-greens: so lettuces and rocket, cabbages, spinach and kale are top of the list, with a promised new rose bush (if we can source the particular variety we desire, Irish Hope), and not forgetting some of the usual suspects for the poly-tunnel, the tomatoes, peppers, aubergines and cucumbers to start-off in the next week or so. We’ll sow some onion seed this weekend, and we’ll purchase the red and white sets to pop in small pots the following weekend, and before you’d progress to shake a rake sure the whole bloomin’ process will be under way for another year.
Last night we had snow and ice and wintry showers across the country. It’s a cold water morning and Mother Nature is still quite some time off from donning her springtime boots. The temperature levelled at -5 Celsius this morning making it the coldest night/morning so far this winter season. The forecasts point to at least ten days to two weeks of similar conditions yet, but at least today’s bright winter sunshine is a bonus. And it’s cold, too cold to sow; too cold for anything to bother to grow, too cold to consider anything other than the seed catalogues and the holiday brochures, and as such we’ll simply continue to hatch our plans…

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compliments of @janpaulkelly instagram

Pickled Red Onions

One of the monster’s major crops each year is onions. We grow both red and white and we grow from seed and set. Stuttgarter and Bedfordshire Champions would be the considered whites while Karmen and Red Baron the trusted red varieties. Experience has shown that some years almost one third of the red onions will bolt, but when you get a summer as consistently good as last year’s, well then, thing were a good deal better with little or no bolting whatsoever, and though harvested during the last week of July, the Red Barons have stored very well indeed and this third week in January we are still making some delicious pickled red onion.

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Red Baron onions

These pickled red onions are one of the quickest and easiest recipes we here at monsterinthecorner use with the monster’s bounty: they dress any beef or lamb plate, work wonderfully well with any open or slider burger, can be served with cream cheese, Cheddar cheese or with smoked fish, and their piquant zing will enliven any cold platter or meat salad.

Ingredients:
• 2 red onions, peeled and thinly sliced
• 2 tablespoons (30 ml) red wine vinegar/cider vinegar
• 1 good tablespoon of caster sugar

 

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Sliced red onions

Method:
At the outset make sure you do not create a recipe for disaster by mixing this simple but potent trio in the wrong container to begin with. Although only using three ingredients be sure to mix in a non-reactive bowl: stainless steel, glass or ceramic. This makes enough pickle to fill a good sized jar and once covered should hold in a refrigerator for up to 3 weeks
• Slice the onions as thinly as possible and toss into mixing bowl. Scatter the spoonful of caster sugar across the onions them pour the red wine vinegar into the mixture and stir it up. At this point we like to cover the bowl with some cling film and over 20-30 minutes or so invert the bowl and shake it up periodically. The onions are ready to use after about 30 minutes, or do as we do and put them into a sterilized jar and pop into the fridge where they will keep for 3-4 weeks.

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pickled red onions with creamed cheese on sourdough,,,

 

The People’s Seat

Today we here at monsterinthecorner post a transcript of the speech that was delivered at the 24th Conference of Parties (COP24) United Nations Conferences on Climate Change, in Katowice Poland on December 3rd 2018.

The speech was delivered by renowned naturalist Sir David Attenborough, and although composed by Mr. Attenborough, it marshaled the considered thinking and genuine evidence based concerns of billions of others living at this time on what we call planet earth…
It is a sobering, succinct summation of the truth every single man woman and child is destined to become very well acquainted with in the not too distant future, and that, if for no other reason, is why we now embed a copy within the monster’s archives: we reprint it here…

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Your excellencies, ladies and gentlemen.

        “‘We, the peoples of the United Nations’….
These are the opening words of the UN Charter. A charter that puts people at the centre.
A pledge to give every person in the world a voice on its future.
A promise to help protect the weakest and the strongest from war, famine and other man-made disasters.
Right now, we are facing a man-made disaster of global scale. Our greatest threat in thousands of years. Climate Change.
If we don’t take action the collapse of our civilisations and the extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizon.
The United Nations provides a unique platform that can unite the whole world.
And as the Paris agreement proved, together we can make real change happen.
At this crucial moment, the United Nations has invited the world’s people to have their voice heard, by giving them a seat. The People’s Seat; giving everyone the opportunity to join us here today, virtually, and speak directly to you the decision makers.
In the last two weeks, the world’s people have taken part in building this address, answering polls, sending video messages and voicing their opinions.
I am only here to represent the ‘Voice of the People’: to deliver our collective thoughts, concerns, ideas and suggestions.
This is our ‘We the peoples’ message.
The world’s people have spoken. Their message is clear. Time is running out.
They want you, the decision makers, to act now. They are behind you, along with civil society represented here today. Supporting you in making tough decisions but also willing to make sacrifices in their daily lives. To help make change happen, the UN is launching the Act Now bot. Helping people to discover simple everyday actions that they can take, because they recognize that they too must play their part.
The People have spoken.
Leaders of the world, you must lead.
The continuation of our civilisations and the natural world upon which we depend, is in your hands”.

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