Food For Thought!

Excursus IV

We here on monsterinthecorner have been ploughing our own unique furrow the last eight years or so. In that time we have transformed a couple of neglected patches of public parkland and disused former pasture into a pair of award winning allotment gardens.
We have thoroughly enjoyed the journey so far; we rose to the challenge we set ourselves and this year is one of, if not the best from a harvest and return point of view.

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We began our allotmenteering experience and the processes of food sowing and growing purely as a hobby of sorts, but quite quickly did we come to realize just how important the provenance of quality and organic food is become, and over the last decade or so this has gained quite a lot of media traction not only on the national but also on the global stage, and dare we say –without any desire to scare monger in any way whatsoever -that food security is destined to be one of the major concern for all societies in years to come.

And just as we acknowledge the monster’s own creative bent in wishing all like-minded gardeners to celebrate the process of gardening every year on International Green-fingers Day, and just as we look forward each year to the gardening world’s own big showy celebrations in Chelsea, and Bloom and Malvern etc. we think it timely and appropriate to acknowledge the day that is 16th October: World Food Day.

Laudable, commendable, and meritorious as the plan and objectives of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization may be in hoping to eliminate world hunger in 12 years,,,twelve years?,,,it is wholly indicative of just how far removed the understanding of geo-politic necessity  truly is from the man struggling in the street or the child in a ghettoised war zone. But that is a subject for expansion and discussion at another time and on another forum. We do however agree with what it says on the tin so-to-speak: Our Actions Are Our Future. There is little arguing with that.
However we do ask that if you read here,  be mindful of all those people truly hungry today, and there are tens of millions of such people: tens of millions of human beings with nothing whatsoever to eat or drink; tens of millions of people without access to the very basics of human respect and dignity; millions of children without access to even the most meagre subsistence. There are millions, and sadly quite a lot of post-modern computer literate-social-media-savvy- people cannot adequately conceptualize MILLIONS….
Our little green nation now exports 84% of all the food it produces; millions and millions of tons worth billions and billions of Euro. Our national food industry is our biggest industry by a country mile, and a timely reminder would be that we not forget that just over 150 years ago millions starved to death on this little green island and millions more emigrated because of the failure of one, singular, subsistence crop whence about the same percentages of other produce was being shipped abroad.  But, that too, is a discussion on another time, for another time.
We here on monsterinthecorner have been lucky with our produce this year, and the harder and longer we dig and rake and water and sow, well then, the luckier we get.    We share our gluts and spread our surpluses across family and friends. We know where our food comes from, and we’ve learned to appreciate the effort it takes to get it here.

There is and always has been great hunger on this spinning cosmic rock, and I doubt any one single organisation at any one point in time of our unfolding human experience will ever eliminate the scourge of human starvation, but those fortunate enough to have enough, on them falls the duty to share…Unfortunately want and ignorance are as widespread today as they were along the banks of the Nile 3000 years ago, as they were on our own emerald isle 150 years, or in Russia, or Persia, or the plains of Ethiopia as they were 70, 50, and 30 years ago, or Sudan, or indeed as they are in Yemen today or Gaza tomorrow.

WFD2018_Poster_H_ENWaste not want not,,,a morsel for thought. the link below will bring you to the relevant site.

http://www.fao.org/world-food-day

The Big Windy…

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? A last rose for summer? Rosa Rhapsody In Blue

And so it’s official: summer is kaput, done, dusted, gone.

This week –the week leading into the autumnal equinox, as has become practice in recent years– the Irish and UK meteorological services have released the list of names chosen under the Name Our Storms Scheme that will be used to identify this coming winter’s storm cycle. And timely too it would seem just as we are being warned with a forecast that ex-tropical storm Helene’s tail is to cause some disruption to our southern coasts during the early days of next week.
The names chosen each year are supposed to reflect the culture and diversity of these island nations, with an equal distribution of both male and female names. Twenty one names are assigned each year running in sequence from A to W, with Q, U, X, Y and Z omitted as per international standardisation.
This year the cycle begins with the male name Ali, followed by the female name Bronagh, then male, then female, male, female etc. Every other year the sequence begins with a female name beginning with the letter A, followed by male name beginning with the letter B and so on. Thus, as you’ll no doubt see with this year’s selection you can have a Jane but never a Tarzan, or a Deirdre but not with Fionn, and a Tristan without Isolde; or as it seems this year an Idris but no Elba…

Cruel or otherwise, Professor Henry Higgins once postulated that “In Hertford, Hereford and Hampshire, hurricanes hardly happen…” and without making a song and dance about it that may well have been the Lerner/Loewe meteorological reality in the mid 1950’s, but whether the weather will be worse in Walden, Wichling or Wicken matters not a jot when a bona fide hurricane is forecast to make landfall, for by their nature hurricanes are a massive storm event, capable of making their presence felt for hundreds of miles from the storm centre.
Ireland, as said before is a damp country; we’ve grown accustomed to the rain; we breathe it out and breathe it in: and so much so that it’s in our genes, in a manner of speaking. So, when a lot of rain is forecast we have a tendency to be quite nonchalant, nationally dismissive even about what constitutes “a lot” of rain. But Wind (?) Wind is a different matter. We’re a small island, and when the wind gets-up it can seem that bunting stripped for a lamppost in Kilorglin ends up tangled in the DART lines off Killiney, or rubbish fly-tipped in Dungarvan ends up strewn across the Dublin Hills. We’re used to the rain you see, but we don’t do wind very well. No we don’t: Do you remember the night of the big wind in ’47? What about the Breath of God in early 30’s? Big winds live long in the memory. Perhaps it’s because they have the ability to blow the cobwebs off just about everything, and shake and wake everything up whereas the rain, the rain just seeps and soaks. A lesser known fact is that depending on a hurricane’s origin and trajectory it can either be wet or dry: it can be predominantly rain bearing or predominantly driving i.e wind bearing, so although we now have names to assign to the the storms we are likely to experience this coming winter season, it is still anyone’s guess whether we’ll be soaked or windblown.
And just as a by-the-by: is it me or just a faulty recollection, but, with the exception of Charley which traversed these fair isles in autumn 1986, it seems all of the other major Hurricanes which crossed the vast Atlantic without diminishing too much of their ferocity and potency and eventually caused such havoc and damage have all had female designations; Katerina, Emma, Ophelia, even the approaching Helene and perhaps later next week sometime Florence, should she decide to u-turn? Just saying it like: getting it out of the way before Deirdre and Freya decide to send end of year seasonal greetings.

Oh yes, the monster is always considering and calculating such things, and conscious, always conscious that Mrs. Dirtdigger is proof-reader extraordinaire… yes,yes,yes, brewing up a storm? There is nothing to compare with fierce female fury forced to flee ‘cross foreign sea flattening everything she sees…

Winter Storm Names 2018-2019
• Ali
• Bronagh
• Callum
• Deirdre
• Erik
• Freya
• Gareth
• Hannah
• Idris
• Jane
• Kevin
• Lily
• Max
• Niamh
• Oliver
• Peggy
• Ross
• Saoirse
• Tristan
• Violet
• Wyn

Gardener and Expectation…

Gardener Expectations

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Sunny Side up: pumpkins ripening under cover

As with the seasons, the garden is not required to be in harmony with the gardener’s expectations of it. Gardening and allotmenteering is a process of learning to work with what you have, and this year -more than any other in recent years – both the garden and the seasons have challenged even the most experienced gardener and Plantsman; but what a year it has been to date.
An old adage says that if you always expect the worst, then everything else will be a bonus, and whether or not you agree with the couched principle of this succinct aphorism, the experiential irony is not lost.
Skeptical commentary aside however, the year to date has presented us with both the best and worst of gardening times, and there is still one full quarter portion to run.

As usual, the arrival of the New Year heralded a new chapter in the gardener’s almanac and diary, but it was not too long before the great gardening expectation was consigned to a much longer than expected stay in winter’s stasis chamber, whence it seemed winter showed no shadow of parting at all. Yet depart it did, and in what seems little more than the blink of an eye the sheaves and sisters are being brought in…

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Jams and Chutneys and Sauces and Relish August 2018

And we too have been busy with the bringing-in…

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Moneymaker Tomatoes & the last of this year’s Rhubarb
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Parsnips and Peppers and dew drenched Florence Fennel
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Parsnips, Beans,Blackberries and Squashes

Big It Was…

It was a big summer; with big sunshine and big temperatures and a big drought that will live big in the memory. And there you have it, past tense. A big summer it was; but now summer into autumn has slipped and this year’s transition is sudden and tangible.

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The Monster’s September song…

September, that great misplaced misnomer of the calendar year, tripping softly off the tongue, ripening memories of the big summer that was , safe that come the darker days September will fete us something to remember. And so we’ll gather and collect, and store-up, and we’ll treasure the harvest just as we’ll harvest the treasures from the big summer that was, and mindful that just as every gardener and grower begins the process of reaping and gathering, nature herself actually begins the cycle again, for come September nature begins sowing again, scattering her seeds abroad, and therein next summer is already sown…