One of the great pleasures of being chef/patron here at The Riverside Inn is the kitchen garden.

All year it provides us with fresh produce, from garlic and asparagus to strawberries, fennel and salad, to damsons, sloes and apples.

Even now we have Jerusalem artichokes, kale, red cabbage and winter salad leaves.

Nothing puts you in touch with the seasons more acutely than tending a garden.

Our garden is planned, planted, maintained and harvested by our small team of chefs, it gives us lovely fresh produce, but also gives us the freedom to play around with some unique and interesting ingredients such as borage, salad burnet and lemon verbena ( delicious in ice cream).

In the last year or so the acre of garden has been devoted to trying new techniques from an allotment style layout, to perennial vegetables, cottage herbs, edible flowers and a fruit orchard, which we hope to expand.

Now is the time of year for planning ahead, and it’s exciting looking at the projects we hope to get underway in the spring.

For example, we want to become more environmentally friendly, by moving towards organic growing, encouraging bees (including our own hive) and other “good” wildlife by planting edible flowers – which we can also use in the kitchen to brighten salads and puddings.

We also aim to benefit the garden by large scale kitchen waste composting too.

Having looked into winter and early spring produce, we now know that we can fairly easily increase our output at these times by planting winter purslane and kale, and ransoms to harvest around March or April.

Obviously, we can’t grow everything, so we look to Mandy and Richard Sedgewick, who grow delicious organic vegetables and salad with the help of their son Louis, for additional produce. They share our environmentally friendly ethos.

Their market garden, Lane Cottage, is set in beautiful rolling hills in the north of the county, and the varieties they grow are selected for flavour not huge yield.

Keeping cosy is important at this time of year, especially as the nights are still long and dark. Our fires are always roaring, and we have a welcoming cauldron of mulled cider ready for our guests.

And one of the nicest ciders around comes from Newton Court, near Leominster. This is a proper craft cider made from English fruit.