Last updated on Jun 21st, 2017 at 01:17 pm

With winter here, the famed Boschendal Werf Food Garden is donning a new cloak of colour, with misty mornings coating the ground in soft grey

Horticulturist Megan McCarthy, the green-fingered wizard behind the Boschendal garden, says winter is a time for reflection and renewal.

“In winter, the garden is not as dormant as it may seem. It’s the time when the root crops are ready, along with brassicas, legumes, and leaves. Growth ticks quietly along and careful tending bears rich rewards.”

Fresh from the garden

Boschendal’s Werf Restaurant chef, Christiaan Campbell, enjoys using the fresh array of ingredients from the garden.

“I cook with what the garden delivers, which means our menu changes daily. In winter, I especially love the roots for their earthiness and high natural sugar and starch content. They’re the perfect food to nurture us through the colder seasons.”

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Winter crops

According to McCarthy, carrots, radishes, turnips, leeks, onions, cabbages, peas, broad beans, and cauliflowers are all wonderful winter crops to plant, along with avocadoes, oranges, lemons and limes.

In terms of herbs, rosemary, mint, thyme and parsley should be on the planting list.

“Of course, with the current Cape drought it’s important to garden responsibly, and to reuse and recycle when possible,” says McCarthy. 

Seasonal food garden planting guide

In the following guide, McCarthy tells us what to plant each season while Chef Campbell shares his favourite ingredients to cook with:

Winter: May to August

McCarthy’s planting guide:

“During the colder months, get your carrots, beetroots, radishes, turnips, leeks, cabbages, onions, cauliflowers, peas, broad beans and spinach into the ground. Plant your nectarines, pears, plums, oranges, lemons and strawberries, along with rosemary, mint, thyme, fennel, bay, rocket and parsley.”

Chef Campbell’s favourites: 

“In winter, the garden sleeps and everything slows down. It’s the time for the roots, which have an earthy flavour and are high in natural sugars and starches, to nurture and energise us through the colder months. Brassicas, legumes and leaves are all in season.”

Spring: September to October

McCarthy’s planting guide:

“In spring, start sowing your artichokes, mealies, asparagus, beetroots, butternuts, turnips, lettuces, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, radishes, turnips and waterblommetjies. Now is the time to plant mulberries, figs, pomegranates, avocadoes, oranges, bananas, lemons, mangoes, litchis, apricots and guavas, along with sorrel, sage, lemon grass, marjoram, oreganum, ginger and tarragon.”

 Chef Campbell’s favourites: 

“Spring is my favourite season; the garden is gorgeous, with fresh peas, mange tout and broad beans all ripening. These fresh flavours all pair together perfectly. We make a beautiful dish where we combine these together with our homemade olive oil, freshly torn buffalo mozzarella and mint leaves, with a sprinkling of grated lemon zest.”

Summer: November to February

McCarthy’s planting guide:

“In summer, you want to plant asparagus, green beans, courgettes, sweet peppers, eggplants, garlic, mushrooms, potatoes and pumpkins. In terms of fruit, it’s the season for melons, spanspek, tomatoes, figs, apricots, lemons and litchis. Start sewing your mint, basil, sage, rocket and lemon grass as well.”

 Chef Campbell’s favourites: 

The garden comes alive in early summer with an abundance of vegetables and my favourite globe artichokes. The peppers begin reddening and the baby beets start kicking in. For me, the globe artichokes are always something to look forward to – they’re only around for two months and they’re delicious roasted in butter and served with succulent confit chicken.”

Autumn: March to April

McCarthy’s planting guide:

“In autumn, you should plant your carrots, leeks, broccolis, celeriac, fennel bulbs, garlic, cabbages, kales, kohlrabies, onions, parsnips, peas and cauliflowers. It’s also the season for all berries, cherries, grapes, pears, strawberries, nectarines, apples, peaches and plums, along with coriander, dill, rocket and rosemary.”

 Chef Campbell’s favourites: 

“Autumn is the time to forage for fungi. Boschendal is known for its wild mushrooms, although the lack of rain has impacted the last few seasons. I love the porcini and pine varieties especially. Our Textures of Mushrooms dish is one of the few we bring back every year – we dry powder, puree, pickle and sauté a selection of beautiful mushrooms to create a rich assortment of flavours and techniques in one dish.”

For more information about Boschendal Estate, visit www.boschendal.com