Come over for lunch
2 sprigs thyme, plus extra
1 tsp flaky sea salt
500ml chicken stock
2 sprigs thyme
4 slices lemon, plus extra to garnish 2 medium chicken breasts
Heat oven to 180C.
Prepare vegetables and toss with oil, thyme sprigs and salt until well coated. Spread them out on a large, lined baking tray and roast until tender and coloured, 20-30 minutes.
Chicken: Heat stock with thyme and lemon slices. Add chicken breasts, cover and cook at a gentle simmer until cooked through, 12-15 minutes depending on thickness. Remove from heat and let rest for a further 5 minutes, then remove from stock and slice.
Arrange chicken slices on the warm vegetables and garnish with a cheek of fresh lemon, a few thyme leaves and a drizzle of olive oil.
Pork & bacon roll with roasted five-spice plums
Asian spices team perfectly with juicy pork fillet and plums.
The roasting juices from the pan are reserved to make an easy, flavoursome gravy. 2 medium pork fillets
4 rashers streaky bacon
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp five-spice powder
tsp cardamom seeds
6 juniper berries, crushed 6 plums, halved
1 cup red wine
1 cup chicken stock
cup maple syrup
2 tsp cornflour mixed to a paste
with 1 tbsp water
Heat oven to 180C. Trim pork of any silver skin and excess fat. Wrap each fillet in 2 bacon rashers and place in a lined roasting dish. Drizzle oil over meat and sprinkle with five-spice.
Add cardamom seeds and juniper berries to roasting dish. Arrange plums around the outside. Pour combined wine, stock and maple syrup over plums and pork.
Roast 15-20 minutes or until pork is cooked and plums are starting to caramelise. Remove meat from dish and set aside to rest for 5 minutes before slicing.
Transfer cooking juices to a small pan and bring to the boil. Add cornflour paste and stir until slightly thickened and glossy.
Serve the sliced pork on a platter with the roasted plums, with the spiced wine glaze spooned over the top.
Plant lily bulbs as soon as you get them – do not let them dry out – in part shade or full sun in welldrained, humus-rich soil.
Plant at least 10cm deep and put in stakes next to taller varieties so as not to damage roots once the flower stems actually need the support.
Note that lilies do not like manure or lime.
Put the ornamental beds to bed for the winter, by removing spent annuals and cutting back perennials. Then mulch around plants with compost, followed by pea straw. Failing that, use another type of straw or pine (the latter is particularly liked by marigolds, snapdragons, zinnias; garlic, onions, potatoes; blueberries, raspberries, strawberries; lilac, roses, hydrangeas, rhododendrons and azaleas).
Leaves and lawn clippings are also useful and readily available winter mulches. Sawdust from untreated wood can be spread among azaleas, camellias and rhododendrons.
Many perennials can still be divided and replanted.
Lawns may still be scarified, aerated and top-dressed as long as the fine mild weather continues. But not if it is frosty or very wet.
Plant bok choy, cabbage, silverbeet, and winter lettuce.
Now is the time to sow broad beans and shallots.
Weed strawberry beds. And plant new ones – somewhere sunny with well-drained soil.
Prepare ground for new fruit trees by incorporating generous quantities of compost into the planting hole.
Spray copper on stone fruit trees with fungal diseases, such as brown rot and leaf curl. Removing fallen leaves and fruit will help stop the spores wintering over.
The long hot summer has seen a surge in thrips populations. These tiny insects usually live on the underside of leaves and feed by puncturing plant tissue and sucking out the cell contents. Infestations are easily recognisable by silvering or bronzing of the leaves – in severe cases the whole plant, not just a branch, may be affected. Fruit and flowers can also be affected.
A variety of plants host them, from bay laurel, viburnums and bergenia to rhododendron and fuchsia. About 50 species of thrips have been identified in New Zealand; the most common is probably greenhouse thrips.
An infestation is usually not fatal – cut off the infected parts and water and fertilise to encourage new growth.
Various sprays are available to kill them (including neem oil), most of which are safe to use on fruit trees and vegetables. Talk to your local garden centre about which will best suit your needs.
– Mary Lovell-Smith
Above left: Spinach & brie tart; roast vegetable salad with lemon & thyme poached chicken (left); and pork & bacon roll. PHOTOS: AARON MCLEAN