New Arrivals in the Market Garden
January Market Garden updates and new arrivals on the Farm…
Although typically not a season known for plant growth, our team of expert gardeners have seen a successful winter so far in the Market Garden on the Farm. The polytunnel is brimming with greens, a new greenhouse with heated seed benches has been built, our first mushrooms emerged, there were several visits from Wednesday the dog and the most exciting news of all, the Market Garden became home to a flock of female quails…
Market Garden Updates
Our Market Garden has seen a very successful winter thus far, and the polytunnels are a prime example. Both polytunnels on our Devon farm are brimming with wildlife, including microgreens, salad leaves and edible flowers for our Farm Shops and the Dartmoor Inn, Merrivale. These organic vegetables are picked daily and sent to the shops and the inn the very next day – you’ll be hard pushed to find fresher greens elsewhere.
The team have also been busy building their new greenhouse, which features heated seed benches. These benches have and continue to be invaluable to the team in terms of encouraging early and healthy plant growth, especially in the winter months. The plants growing in the pots and trays on the benches benefit from the heat of the bench, which gives the seeds and shoots a better chance of survival. The benches also help the plants to grow at a faster rate. So far, the benches have been a great success. So much so, that the team saw the emergence of their first mushrooms in the greenhouse after a lot of trial and error with regards to growing methods and seed types.
Alongside regular visits from Wednesday the dog, the Market Garden has also welcomed a few new arrivals in January. The garden is now home to a flock of female quails, in the hopes that we’ll be able to sell their eggs in our Farm Shops. These quail eggs will be the first in the UK to be certified organic. Quail eggs are considered a delicacy in many parts of the world, and with our quails laying their eggs every 23 hours, hopefully you’ll be able to enjoy them very soon.
Quails are small gamebirds that nest in the grass and spend most of their time on the ground of farmland around the UK, much like pheasants. One of the major differences between pheasants and quails is their size. These tiny birds are rarely seen (unlike the pheasants we always see in the Devon countryside!), but their distinctive, loud call will let you know they are there. Quails are protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act and are most common in April through October. Outside of these months, wild quails can travel as far south as Africa for the Winter, before returning to Britain to mate in the spring.
How can you identify a quail? Look out for a small bird patterned with fine dark and gold markings over their brown underlayer. And of course, listen out for their distinctive mating call.
What are the Benefits of Quail Eggs?
We’re hoping that our ladies will be producing the goods very soon, and that customers of our Farm Shops will be able to get their hands on organic quail eggs in the near future. But why choose organic quail eggs over organic chicken eggs? Many see quail eggs as a direct alternative to chicken eggs, only slightly smaller in size and different in colour. Quail eggs are typically a cream colour with brown speckles, and about a third of the size of chicken eggs. However, their small size doesn’t detract from their nutritional value, as quail eggs are packed with vitamins and antioxidants.
Quail eggs contain high levels of vitamin B12, selenium, riboflavin and smaller amounts of iron. Selenium and riboflavin are important in helping the body to break down food and transform it into energy. Vitamin B12 and iron help to keep the nervous system healthy and also maintain energy levels.
Quail Egg Recipes
There’s lots of way to use quail eggs, and as previously mentioned they can be a direct replacement for chicken eggs. If swapping in organic quail eggs, we recommend 3 or 4 as an alternative to one organic egg. If you’re looking to get started using quail eggs, impress dinner guests with this easy organic ham and potato hashbrown nest recipe, topped with organic quail eggs.
- Organic Traditional Ham Bits, 200g
- Organic Potatoes, 500g grated
- Organic Mozzarella, 125g grated
- Eversfield Organic Butter, for greasing
- Organic Quail Eggs, 12
- Salt and Pepper, for seasoning
- Pre-heat the oven to 180°C / 160°C fan / gas mark 4.
- Generously grease a 12-hole cupcake tray with Eversfield Organic Butter.
- Add the grated organic potatoes, organic mozzarella and traditional organic ham bits to a large mixing bowl and season with salt and pepper. Combine well.
- Divide the mixture between the cupcake holes and cook for 25 minutes or until golden brown.
- Remove the tray from the oven and ensure the nests are not stuck to the tray by sliding a knife around the edge of each.
- Using the back of a small spoon, make an indent into each nest. These should be big enough to hold the quail egg.
- Crack an organic quail egg into each indent and cook for another 8-10 minutes in the oven. When cooked, the whites should be set and the yolk runny.
- Leave to cool in the tin for a minute or two, then carefully remove and serve.