Winter hits the kitchen garden

As the colder months approach at full speed, the kitchen gardeners turn to indoor jobs, including researching and planning for the year ahead.

Michelle, the Kitchen Garden Specialist, has welcomed the helping hand of Cate, the new apprentice. Cate is eager to learn the ropes from Michelle, learning about the Dunkeld micro-climate and the garden and its process.

The long nights have set in and the frost is on its way. Strategic planning has seen Michelle and Cate planting crops that can handle the cold. These include, Brussel sprouts, broad beans, peas and parsnip. Colourful cauliflower also makes an appearance again this year, ranging from green, white and purple.

The ducks are taking a holiday, while the green manure (a mix of grain crops, cresses and mustards) sprouts. Green manure adds vital nutrients and humus (decomposed vegetable and animal matter) to the soil in time for spring and summer vegetables. It also protects the soil throughout the wet and cold winter months.


Chefs have just finished harvesting mammoth red mangel beetroot. These beets can grow up to 15kgs, however the chefs tend to pull them out before they reach this size.

Soon to come out of the ground are Crapaudine beetroot – a heirloom variety said to date back 1,000 years. It’s likely to be the oldest beet variety in the world and requires two years to reach maturity. After a long wait, the chefs are excited to start using this unique vegetable on the Wickens at Royal Mail Hotel menu.

Onions and Garlic

This season the kitchen garden is trialing some new varieties of kitchen staples – onion and garlic.

Cipollini onions have gone into the ground for the first time in the history of the kitchen garden. These onions are the size of a golf ball and possess a thin skin. Melting in your mouth, they are great for caramelising and roasting.
Meanwhile, the garden currently has 16 varieties of garlic growing. Michelle is completing a trial to see which type grows best in the regions micro-climate.

Additionally, the growing area for potatoes has expanded to meet the increased demand of potatoes in the Parker Street Project kitchen.

Taste and enjoy the produce at your next visit to Wickens at Royal Mail Hotel. Book now!

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In the spirit of reconciliation, Royal Mail Hotel acknowledges and pays respect to the Traditional Custodians of the land we are on, the Gunditjmara and Eastern Maar Peoples and their elders past, present and future. Continue reading.