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Spice up your winter

Published on April 28th 2021

by Going.Local. All rights reserved

Spices winter
Winter rainy days are around the corner, and so our days in the garden seem to become fewer. You may reach for your coffee or spiced wine and wonder what to do to keep those hours spent indoors worthwhile.
Why not take this time to experiment with some new fascinating culinary additions to the kitchen garden? We scoured around for picks from French to Persian (and a bit of local) cuisine to give you some ideas.
kitchen garden plants
Photo by Markus Spiske CC0 1.0


Chefs often reminisce about the flavour of French Tarragon and lament its muted cousin Russian Tarragon. However, both are unique culinary components. Russian tarragon, although muted, is a hardy winter perennial and a good source for milder aniseed flavouring.
Fun fact: The word tarragon is thought to have originated from the Arabic word for little dragon, “tarkhun”.
Some tips on growing at home:
  • Soil: Well-draining
  • Exposure: Full sun
  • Frost: Hardy
  • Diseases: Powdery Mildew and Rust
  • Harvest: May to September
  • Propagation: Grow from seedlings
  • Medicinal: Is used to relieve aches or pains as well as digestive problems
How to use: The flavour is more intense in dried, young leaves. Larger leaves will be bitter and best left on the plant. They do well in dairy-based sauces in a variety of warm dishes.
spices winter
Photo by Markus Spiske CC0 1.0


Ever wondered where your flaxseed oil comes from? Flaxseed, toted for its Omega 3 content, is often used in Granola breakfasts, bread and smoothies. It is a great addition to muffins and better yet, can be harvested during autumn and early winter.


Linum usitatissimum

The growing instructions are extremely straight forward, see below:
  • Soil: Rich soil
  • Exposure: Fun sun
  • Frost: Hardy
  • Sow: March to May
  • Harvest: July to October
  • Spacing: 15 cm
If you ever struggle to find seeds, remember that there are a whole host of online vendors that periodically stock some. In the case of Flaxseed, Margaret Roberts Herbal Centre is one such proprietor.

Garden Rocket (Arugula)

There is nothing quite like a fresh rocket salad with freshly caught black bream or hake. The crackling of the coals in the late afternoon sun, make the cold, wintery days disappear from memory. Growing rocket is one of the easiest things to do. They prefer mild winters between 10-18 C, perfect for a sunny windowsill.
Some growing tips:
  • Soil: pH 6, rich soil
  • Time to Harvest: 2-3 weeks
  • Plant: Seedlings should be planted 15cm apart
  • Watering: Evenly moist
  • Harvest: Young leaves during cool weather
  • Pests: Flea beetles
Cooking suggestions: Add young rocket leaves to salads with nuts and seasonal fruit. If your winters are too cold, they can also be grown during Early Spring. Harvesting under cool temperatures will give the best results.
garden rocket arugula
Photo by Jeffery Martin CC0 1.0

Spice collections

Whether you are just starting out with your journey or if you are a seasoned cook, you will always find something interesting to learn. You can dip your toe in by exploring what the Cape Spice Route has to offer in terms of food and beverage pairing or attend a cooking class.
There are many to choose from:
Half-Day Workshops at Wickedfood Earth Country Cooking School
Workshops on Cape Malay cooking
Lectures at the Margaret Roberts Herbal Centre
You are never too young, old or inexperienced to embark on the Spice journey. The world is your oyster, as they say.

If you have a favourite spice or dish, share it in the comments below so we can all cook up a feast this winter!

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