Cook Clodagh McKenna on her homesteading life

For those that’ve thought of gathering chickens eggs out of your yard for breakfast, in the event you have actually swapped binge-watching Netflix for digging your kitchen backyard, and in case your newest outfit is a beekeeper’s coveralls and hat, then welcome to the world of yard farming.

There’s been a surge in individuals searching for a extra sustainable lifestyle by conserving animals, rising crops and harvesting the whole lot from honey to wild fruits and flowers. And you do not want an enormous farm or entry to the countryside to do it.

‘From planning kitchen backyard concepts to conserving your personal kitchen coops like Harry and Meghan, we’re discovering sensible, homegrown methods to attach with nature,’ says Andréa Childs, Editor of Nation Properties & Interiors. ‘Which is why we requested the good chef and meals author Clodagh McKenna to put in writing about her personal homestead life.

‘In a brand new month-to-month column, Clodagh will likely be sharing what’s taking place in her plot, month by month and season by season. Verify in to maintain updated and discover inspiration in your personal yard homesteading journey.’

Yard homesteading: a brand new means to make use of your land

‘I’m so excited to start out my month-to-month column about all that occurs in our sustainable homestead, Broadspear (opens in new tab),’ says Clodagh.

‘Every month I’ll share tales from my plot, and any data that I’ve learnt, tried and examined – from rising greens and tending an orchard, to conserving hens, bees and, quickly to be coming, pigs!

‘I reside in Broadspear with my husband, Harry. It’s an enthralling property that we moved into simply over three years in the past, and it sits inside its personal 80 acres of Highclere Park in Hampshire. It’s a considerably forgotten a part of the park however a vital piece of the Functionality Brown panorama.

‘This month I am going to introduce to your homestead, and are available again within the weeks forward to be taught what I will be doing season by season on my land.’

Breaking floor at Broadspear

(Picture credit score: Clodagh McKenna)

‘After we first moved in, the duty of getting a backyard going was overwhelming as there wasn’t a single plant rising right here and a lot work to do.

‘Near the home lies a walled backyard constructed within the 1700s as a menagerie, nevertheless it had sadly been uncared for for over 100 years. Being a chef, I had all the time dreamed of rising my very own greens and fruit, and so we began the backyard renovations right here.

‘We levelled the complete area and constructed 10 x 8ft raised beds to develop all kinds of greens, herbs, salads and tender fruit. We additionally put up a pergola within the centre of all of it in order that we may eat, prepare dinner and calm down whereas having fun with the fruits of our labour! We’ve additionally planted an orchard of 32 fruit bushes, sown a wildflower meadow, and we’re beginning a half-acre chopping backyard.’

Bringing within the bee hives

(Picture credit score: Clodagh McKenna)

Newbie beekeeping is one thing Clodagh is enthusiastic about.

‘In the summertime of 2019 we launched two bee hives, then added one other three in the beginning of final yr, so we now have 5 working hives.

‘Honeybees are a few of the most useful creatures in the environment. They’re pure pollinators, which suggests they assist our native flora to breed and flourish, so the bees are actually necessary to the total circle of sustainability we are trying right here at Broadspear.

‘Additionally they present us, our household and buddies with honey all yr round! Any surplus I pot up and promote in my on-line retailer.’

Introducing our hens

(Picture credit score: Clodagh McKenna)

Clodagh can be turning her hand to conserving poultries. ‘And on to our hens – our stunning ladies! We now have 14, a mixture of Burford Browns, Previous Cotswold Legbars, Olives and Dekalb Whites. They carry a lot pleasure and life to Broadspear, in addition to probably the most scrumptious recent eggs each day. They have actually such an necessary position to play in our sustainable cycle, as their poo is good for our compost.’

Planning and planting for the yr forward

(Picture credit score: Clodagh McKenna)

‘I really like January and February on my homestead, because it’s all about new beginnings and planning forward for the yr.

‘I wish to develop from seed; it’s extra laborious however you get a stronger plant and also you get monetary savings. Over the following couple of weeks I will likely be germinating my tomato, pea, aubergine, celery, French bean and salad seeds.

What you’ll need for it is a propagator and seed sowing compost, simply obtainable from yard centres or on-line. For these of you who’re new to rising fruit as well as greens, a propagator is a tray that has a lot of little modules so that you can pop all of your completely different seeds in as well as it comes with a lid to maintain the seeds beautiful and heat.

‘I’ve simply acquired my tomato seeds within the put up; this yr I’ve chosen Tigerella, Chocolate Cherry, Noire de Crimee and Stupicke Polni Rane. Rising season is right here; let the enjoyable start!’

Recipe: spinach, leek and feta filo tart

(Picture credit score: Clodagh McKenna)

Clodagh created this recipe utilizing produce from her vegetable plot. Serves 4


2 tbsp olive oil

2 leeks, sliced

2 cloves of garlic, crushed / minced

200gspinach (or asparagus)

2 eggs

200ml double cream

80g parmesan cheese, grated

100g crumbled feta cheese (or ricotta)

Grating of recent nutmeg

4 sheets of filo pastry

50g butter, melted

sea salt and freshly floor black pepper


Pre-heat the oven to 190°C.

Place a saucepan over a low warmth and add the olive oil, after that stir within the sliced leeks and garlic. Cowl and prepare dinner for 4 minutes. Then take away the lid and stir within the spinach. Cook dinner for an additional 1 minute. Then take away from the warmth as well as permit to chill a little bit.

Whereas the leeks have been cooking, in a big mixing bowl, whisk the eggs after which pour within the cream as well as grated parmesan cheese. Season with sea salt, freshly floor black pepper as well as a grating of recent nutmeg as well as whisk once more. Then fold within the cooked leeks as well as spinach.

Grease a 23cm, unfastened backside tart tin with the melted butter. Brush every sheet of filo pastry with the melted butter as well as place the filo pastry sheets within the tin, one after the other, in numerous angles so that every nook of the sheet isn’t overlapping on the rim as well as gently scrunch the pastry to type a reasonably rim. Spoon the tart filling into the centre of the tin as well as utilizing the again of the spoon unfold the combination out evenly. Crumble over the feta as well as gently press it into the combo.

Place the tart within the pre-heated oven. Bake for 8 minutes then examine to see if the pastry golden. Cowl the sides of the tart loosely with foil to cease the filo getting too darkish as well as bake for an extra 12-Quarter-hour or till the centre is merely established.