In The Garden - Highlights at St Erth in August

By Tina Thanos, St Erth's kitchen gardener

Heirloom beetroot ready for the cafe...

Spring is on it's way

I must admit, winter is not my favourite time of year.

It's cold, wet, windy and we've even had the occasional snow, but this week offered a glimmer of hope when I saw the first asparagus spear popping its tiny purple head out of the ground. Spring and slightly warmer weather is on its way.

I think I am the lucky one at St Erth. I have the pleasure of working in the garden and growing the produce for our Fork to Fork café, as well as cooking the dishes for our customers to enjoy.

While harvesting the produce, I think of dishes we can create to hero what we have grown and give our diners the best possible tasting of fresh organically grown produce. A simple bunch of spinach becomes a traditional Greek spanakopita, heirloom beetroot and carrots, Jerusalem artichokes, Waltham broccoli, Sicily Purple cauliflower and our earlier harvest of Potimarron and Australian Butter pumpkins become the basis of our garden vegetable platters, paired with a flavourful parsley Salsa Verde.

Tuscan kale and 5 coloured silverbeet become the perfect addition to a warming winter pie and freshly harvested herbs such as rosemary, oregano, savoury and thyme are used to flavour hearty soup dishes as well as our deliciously rich pork and fennel ragu. Our menu is ever changing to reflect the seasons and what is in the garden at that time.

Admittedly the winter months are a lot more difficult to grow in with temperatures dropping down to zero or below overnight which means timing is crucial and our crop grows slowly, but it’s also a great time to plan ahead for the upcoming season where it all really kicks off.

This week we’re preparing for spring and have sown our second crop of broccoli. We’ll be growing Waltham for its nice big green heads and prolific side shoots and Purple Sprouting for its colour and antioxidant value. A second crop of cauliflower is also being raised as well as celery, parsley, and an abundance of micro greens (fact sheet here) and edible flowers to add the finishing touch to our dishes.

Florence fennel is only a couple weeks away from being ready to harvest and we’ve just picked the last of the autumn’s beetroot. The colours always bring a smile to my face. They’re so bright and beautiful and add a delightful earthy sweetness to any dish.

Soon we’ll be getting ready to sow our next crop of heirloom carrots, beetroots, potatoes and a whole lot more. We just have to be a little bit more patient to ensure the wost of the cold weather has passed. 

Tina Thanos (5 August 2016)

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