Chef Clodagh McKenna on her homesteading life

For those who’ve considered amassing chickens eggs out of your yard for breakfast, for those who’ve 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 all the things 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 individual 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 might be sharing what’s taking place in her plot, month by month and season by season. Examine in to maintain updated and discover inspiration in your personal yard homesteading journey.’

Yard homesteading: a brand new approach 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 information 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 stay in Broadspear with my husband, Harry. It’s a captivating 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 an important piece of the Functionality Brown panorama.

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

Breaking floor at Broadspear

(Picture credit score: Clodagh McKenna)

‘Once 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, but it surely had sadly been uncared for for over 100 years. Being a chef, I had at all times dreamed of rising my very own greens and fruit, and so we began the backyard renovations right here.

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

Bringing within the bee hives

(Picture credit score: Clodagh McKenna)

Newbie beekeeping is one thing Clodagh is keen about.

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

‘Honeybees are a number of the most useful creatures in our surroundings. They’re pure pollinators, which implies they assist our native flora to breed and flourish, so the bees are actually vital to the complete circle of sustainability we are trying right here at Broadspear.

‘Additionally they present us, our household and pals 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 also be turning her hand to conserving chickens. ‘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 bring about a lot pleasure and life to Broadspear, in addition to essentially the most scrumptious recent eggs every day. They’ve such an vital function 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 might be germinating my tomato, pea, aubergine, celery, French bean and salad seeds.

What you have to for it is a propagator and seed sowing compost, simply accessible from backyard centres or on-line. For these of you who’re new to rising fruit and greens, a propagator is a tray that has a number of little modules so that you can pop all of your totally different seeds in and 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, then stir within the sliced leeks and garlic. Cowl and cook dinner for 4 minutes. Then take away the lid and stir within the spinach. Prepare dinner for an additional 1 minute. Then take away from the warmth and permit to chill just a little.

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

Grease a 23cm, free backside tart tin with the melted butter. Brush every sheet of filo pastry with the melted butter and 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 and gently scrunch the pastry to type a fairly rim. Spoon the tart filling into the centre of the tin and utilizing the again of the spoon unfold the combination out evenly. Crumble over the feta and gently press it into the combination.

Place the tart within the pre-heated oven. Bake for 8 minutes then verify to see if the pastry golden. Cowl the sides of the tart loosely with foil to cease the filo getting too darkish and bake for an additional 12-Quarter-hour or till the centre is simply set.