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GARDENING

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CITY GARDENS

What's in Season?

By Annabel Langbein

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Eating Seasonally

A year-round guide to staying connected with the rhythms of nature.

If you live in the city it’s much harder to be connected with the rhythms of nature than when you live in the country. At the supermarket you can get pretty much any item of produce in year-round supply, so you don’t always know when or whether something is actually in season. Sourcing fresh fruit and vegetables from our own backyard gardens, farmers’ markets and weekly produce boxes changes the way we eat – whatever is in season is what there is to cook, so we build our meals around it.

In the ebb and flow of the farmers’ market or your own garden you can feel and taste the shift of the seasons. A pleasing spirit of resourcefulness and creativity comes to bear when your cooking is seasonally driven. In spring, palates jaded from a winter of soups and stews are tempted by the first strawberries, early rhubarb, waxy new potatoes and soft new-season greens such as vibrant broad beans and snow peas and the tender tips of asparagus.

Summer and autumn spoil us for choice with an abundance of sun-ripened flavours. The rich, heady fragrance of white peaches and melons and the sweet scent of lavender and herbs spell summer, sun and flavour. In the autumn, a riot of harvests competes for our attention: pungent, earthy tomatoes, onions, eggplants, zucchini, peppers, chillies, corn and pumpkins, as well as all manner of stone and pip fruit and the second flush of berries. There is so much choice.

But in winter when there are no tomatoes, zucchini or peppers, we turn to roasted root vegetables, rich vegetable soups, tagines, curries, braises and cheesy gratins to take advantage of the abundance of winter root crops as well as hardy above-ground types such as leeks, celery, brassicas and winter greens. Winter’s arrival sees only the hardiest of growers out in the cold at the farmers’ markets with their harvests of stored potatoes, pumpkins, onions, garlic, apples and pears, and freshly dug celeriac, parsnips, carrots and beets.

Experiencing the natural rhythm of the seasons allows us to celebrate and enjoy each season’s unique harvests, knowing that there is a time and a place for everything in the cycles of nature. But with so many fruits and vegetables available year-round at the supermarket these days, it's sometimes hard to know what their natural season is supposed to be.

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