I made some rookie errors when I planted our veggie patch last summer. I jumped in too quickly, without observing the patch – where the light falls, what the wind does – etcetera. The site is, it turns out, dank, with very little winter sunshine. But – never mind – I cut everything back, let it hibernate and ready itself for spring, and took a little break from urban gardening.
I also planted during a drought, which may have been a little unwise, but our well-point is up and running. The water tank and the patch are on opposite corners of the house (there were some space restrictions and it was the only way we could configure it). No worries – we’ve rigged up a very long hosepipe and fashioned a tap – and, with some effort, we’re able to feed the groundwater to our veggies. Minor obstacles.
It’s September and look at these gorgeous blooms that are springing to life!
When we lived in Hong Kong I found the expat supermarkets mind boggling. Talk about being spoilt for choice. Not much grows in this high-density concrete jungle yet browse the aisles of their supermarkets and there’s very little you can’t find. In season, out of season, every delicacy from every corner of the globe.
As wonderful as it is to live in the southern hemisphere and eat berries in winter, it’s far from a carbon neutral experience. Many miles are covered and many fossil fuels burnt to get those berries to you – plus untold amounts of pesticides sprayed to ensure they arrive looking pert and fresh.
Eating what’s in season, I’m learning more and more, has few (if any) downsides and scores of upsides. Here, in a nutshell, are just some of them:
- Grown in the right conditions, seasonal food can be picked when ripe and is therefore fresher, juicier and a whole lot more flavourful
- The journey from soil to plate is short and low on air miles
- You’ll be supporting the local economy by buying from local farmers, growers and artisanal food producers
- Variety. And getting back in tune with our natural cycles and rhythms. We were designed to eat certain foods at certain times of year. For example, watermelon and juicy fruit to hydrate in the hot summer months and leafy greens to strengthen our immunity before the winter months.
- Supplies are high so it’s cheaper!
Still not convinced? Read Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Mineral for inspiration and great seasonal cooking tips.
And check back here soon for my Cape Town seasonal eating chart.