Hot weather means warm soils, primed for growing fresh fruit and vegetables. The seasons abundance is flowing into the kitchen, making it no better time to visit the Royal Mail Hotel.
As the calendar flips over to February, a bounty of summer produce is ready and being harvested daily by the chefs. Seasonal favourites like zucchinis, radishes, beans and fresh lettuce are plentiful. While squash, spaghetti squash and turnips make for exciting dishes on the Wickens menu.
Parker Street Project is utilising the kitchen garden to grow eight varieties of potato, that otherwise potatoes hard to find at your everyday market.
Zucchini flowers are abundant and are proving to be a Parker Street Project chef favourite. Fragile produce like this has a huge flavour and quality advantage at the Royal Mail Hotel, growing only meters from the kitchen and avoiding extensive travel that often damages the plant.
As we delve deeper into February, the kitchen garden is preparing for the mercury to skyrocket. The heatwaves that have been engulfing the south east of Australia are putting a lot of stress on the plants and the kitchen gardeners! Unfortunately, for the gardeners they don’t have an efficient irrigation system like the plants, meaning long hot days in the direct sun.
It’s not all hot and bothersome though. The 50 varieties of tomatoes have had a slow start this season, with most of the outdoor varieties still green on the vine. Tomatoes like it hot, and Dunkeld hasn’t experienced really hot weather until recently. With February predicted to heat up, these tomatoes will start to turn vibrant shades of red, yellow and orange.
As the kitchen team waits for the tomatoes to ripen, they have been using tomatoes from the hot houses. In the meantime, the kitchen garden team have been training and pruning the outdoor plants to keep them under control and promote healthy growth.
Similarly, Michelle, the kitchen garden specialist, is sowing carrots, radishes and beetroot on a weekly basis to keep up with supply. Likewise, the watermelon, rockmelon and pumpkins are thriving in the heat and growing before your eyes. Although strawberries continue to tick along, the berry bounty has come to a close.
2019 – the year ahead
The year ahead is looking exciting for the Royal Mail Hotel kitchen garden. Michelle undertook a stocktake recently, which revealed 500 different varieties of fruit, vegetables and herbs. That is just summer produce alone and an impressive figure!
Each season we post a kitchen garden update. Follow along to see how much that number grows throughout the year. Or join the kitchen garden tour everyday at 10am to see where your food comes from, and then tuck in for lunch or dinner at either Wickens or Parker Street Project – it’s a full food immersion!