Well, following the cultivation notice (that apparently we shouldn’t have got because we have had it less than 3 months) Jamie has worked incredibly hard on digging and planting the plot.
The plan is to have mainly perennial fruit on this site, so that it is lower maintenance. Also, fruit takes up a lot of space and you want to give it plenty of room. There were already three small plum trees on the plot (seen at the back of the photo below), and some Rhubarb (also at the back). Jamie has added raspberry canes with a frame, and gooseberry.
Once the asparagus seedlings are well established, they will go in and already have a dedicated row. The yew trees were in pots in the garden, but have been transplanted in as have a number of box plants (of course!).
This year I am going to get some space for annuals (the bare patch at the front). I already have some Charlotte potatoes chitting on a windowsill. I don’t think there’s any danger of putting the potatoes in too late. The girls have planted a lot of different flower seeds this year, so we will see if any of those are successful.
Finally, there is going to be a very small vineyard in the space shown below.
You never know, Costello home-made wine might be coming your way in years to come? Jamie has taken some cuttings of the vine that currently runs over the canopy at the flat.
We met a local grower/winemaker at a Farmer’s Market from the Old Railway Vineyard in Merstham. When we described our variety, he identified it as a good one for wine. It has a good pedigree, having successfully grown on the patio for what looks like the last century.
Finally, the first French tarragon of the year is coming through, so we picked some for our favourite dinner, recipe below.
For this recipe you can use either quarters, legs, thighs, breasts on the bone, whatever you have in.
1/2 chopped Onion Mushrooms 1/4 bottle of white wine 4 or 5 sprigs of French Tarragon (chopped)
2 cloves of garlic 3 tablespoons Creme fraiche (this can be low fat or full fat)
small amount of chicken stock (optional) lemon rind and juice (optional)
Tips: This recipe has many variations, depending on what you have in the cupboard. Stock can be added for flavour, but you can use a chicken Oxo cube, gravy granules etc., or leave it out altogether. I find if you use chicken pieces on the bone, you don’t need to add stock, but if you use chicken breast fillets, it might need the extra flavour. Lemon isn’t essential, but goes very well. The basics are chicken, white wine, creme fraiche and tarragon.
Fry the chicken pieces in the butter/oil in a heavy bottomed pan or casserole, until nicely browned on the outside. Take them out and reserve on a plate. Then use the same oil to fry the onion and mushrooms if using, followed by the garlic (chopped or crushed as preference).
Once the onion has gone slightly brown, add the chicken pieces back to the plan and add the white wine and half the tarragon, stirring to get the brown glaze off the pan into the sauce. Add water or chicken stock to cover the pieces. Add the lemon juice and rind (you may need to add a tiny bit of sugar if using a very dry wine and lemon juice).
Simmer for about 30 – 45 mins on the stove, or put the casserole into the over, checking occasionally. Strain excess oil if needed. Add salt and pepper and more stock to taste.
When you are sure it is cooked through and ready to serve, add the creme fraiche along with the rest of the tarragon.
Serve with rice and mange tout or french beans.