A Guide to winter produce
learn more about winter produce with indra, peninsula hot springs’ food bowl expert
Firstly, tell us a little bit about your role in growing, maintaining, and harvesting fresh produce inside Peninsula Hot Springs’ terraced food bowl.
I am employed as the Food Production Senior Team Member which means I am responsible for the care of the Food Bowl; a beautiful terraced kitchen garden, established to supply our restaurants with delicious, high-quality fresh seasonal produce. I am required to ensure we use organic practices and keep the soil as healthy as possible to enable us to grow nutritious produce.
This time of year is really exciting as most of the planning for the seasons takes place over winter. Working with the chefs, we have been examining seed catalogues and discussing what is best to plant for Spring and Summer. Once confirmed, I spend time raising healthy herb and vegetable seedlings for planting in the Food Bowl, as well as keeping our existing apple trees and grape vines thriving.
do you prefer to buy and eat seasonally? If so, why
Locally grown, seasonal produce has been my preference for a long time. Eating seasonally, means that I am eating the best produce available for that time of year. Eating locally grown produce means I know where my food has come from and how far it has travelled. I also love to support local business, and on the Mornington Peninsula we have a group of incredible fruit and vegetable growers who are dedicated to the production of nutritious, sustainable food.
What is some of your favourite winter produce currently growing in our food bowl?
We are currently growing some gorgeous coloured heirloom carrots, delicious butter lettuce and red mizuna, which not only tastes amazing, but is a beautiful architectural plant. If you were to ask the chefs their favourite, it would be chervil, which is a delicate winter herb related to parsley that is very quick to grow.
what is your favourite part of harvesting fresh produce inside peninsula hot springs’ terraced food bowl?
As harvesting takes place at the beginning of the day, it enables us to watch the morning gently unfold. As we harvest we are joined by a community of Blue Fairy Wrens who chatter constantly as they dart and peck over the ground where we have moved soil. I feel really lucky to be able to work in such a beautiful, healthy environment.
For those looking to grow fresh produce, what are the best varietals to plant in winter?
I find both beetroot and radishes very rewarding, as you can eat the whole thing (top included). The colours when you pull them out of the earth are like jewels. At Peninsula Hot Springs we grow an heirloom variety which produce orange, red and deep purple beets. My favourite heirloom radish is ‘French Breakfast’, which is fast growing and delicious.
do you have any tips for those who are looking to start growing fresh produce, however are limited to space?
I think most gardeners would recommend herbs to begin with, they are easy, repeat producers who need very little care. In addition, I would add edible flowers because they attract pollinators, look beautiful and great in salads, to decorate cakes and add sparkle to mocktails or cocktails.