Winter at Boschendal

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. For Chef Christiaan Campbell of Boschendal’s farm to table Werf Restaurant, winter is the time for heartiness and nourishment.

Known for his dedication to sustainability and a preference for a seasonal eating philosophy, Chef Christiaan is continuously challenged to innovate by a constantly evolving array of ingredients. “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.”

Horticulturist Megan McCarthy is the green-fingered wizard behind the Boschendal garden. Winter is one of her favourite seasons and 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.”

Beetroot is one of Campbell’s favourite ingredients and the team have a beautiful beet dish in mind for the 2017 winter season. “We use a Big Green Egg cooker to char the beets across the coals. Then we smash the beets with a yoghurt sauce, and add a sprinkling of coriander salt to finish. Broccoli is another ingredient that comes into season, and we have a chopped broccoli salsa recipe that everyone loves.”

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, plant rosemary, mint, thyme and parsley should be on the planting list. McCarthy says, “Of course, with the current Cape drought it’s important to garden responsibly, and to reuse and recycle when possible.”

For more information on Boschendal and its sustainable approach, visit

Boschendal's Seasonal Planting Guide:

Boschendal’s gardener Megan McCarthy tells fellow green-fingered enthusiasts what to plant each season, and Chef Christiaan shares his favourite ingredients to cook with:

May to August

Chef Christiaan’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.”

Megan’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.” 

September to October

Chef Christiaan’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.”

Megan’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, avocados, oranges, bananas, lemons, mangoes, litchis, apricots and guavas, along with sorrel, sage, lemon grass, marjoram, oreganum, ginger and tarragon.”

November to February

Chef Christiaan’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.”

Megan’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.” 

 March to April

Chef Christiaan’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.”