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Sustainable Life: Spring Kitchen Garden

Mia Swainson

Green shoots are transforming my spring garden.

Asparagus spears push up through the soil, daring me to snap off the sweet and tender shoots. After a winter of looking hopefully at our snow peas, they’re finally ready for crunching and munching. White apple blossom flies into the air with each gust of wind, creating a majestic carpet underneath the trees. It’s all beautiful in the garden!

Spring in Canberra tastes green. Wholesome greenery is ready to eat right now because it doesn’t mind Canberra’s mid-Spring frost. Lettuce, kale, snow peas, sugar snap peas, broad beans and herbs are all on the menu. If you’re lucky, you might also have carrots and beets. Delicious!

I’m in the garden almost every day in spring. Planting for summer, weeding, mulching, getting rid of slugs. But my favourite thing about spring gardening is seeing everything grow – fast.

Here are three recipes that celebrate green in a spring kitchen garden.

Baby broad bean and asparagus pasta

Broad bean plants fix nitrogen, so they’re great for your garden soil as well as being fantastic to eat. I like to eat baby broad beans, because they’re more tender than normal broad beans. They’re also less fuss, because you don’t need to remove the pod on individual beans.

Start by boiling your pasta water and putting in about 120g of spaghetti. Meanwhile, prepare the pasta sauce. Lightly sauté two cloves of finely chopped garlic in about two tablespoons of olive oil. Then, pop into the pan ½ a cup of baby broad beans, 12 asparagus shoots (snapped into one-inch lengths) and two teaspoons of finely chopped preserved lemon. Sauté this for 3-5 minutes, season with pepper (the preserved lemon is pretty salty) then takes it off the heat. The spaghetti should be ready about now. Stir it through the sauce until it’s well combined.

Serve the pasta and sauce in bowls, topping each with a handful of fresh rocket and shaved parmesan cheese. It’ll be enough for two people.

Baby carrots with sage

Canberra’s winter hits our sage bush hard. It struggles to produce a few small leaves at the end of it’s spindly twigs. Enter spring. The sage is now covered in large, luscious leaves. It’s also thinking about producing purple flowers. Yum – plenty of sage for cooking now.

Grab yourself a bunch of baby carrots then chop off the tops and peel or scrub the carrot skin. Toss them in a teaspoon of honey and a generous drizzle of olive oil. Add a handful of sage leaves, season with salt and pepper and toss again.

Pop the baby carrots into your grill and cook them for about 15 minutes on medium, or until the tops of the carrots are slightly charred. Let them rest a further 10 minutes in the grill to finish cooking through.

If you’re a gourmet kitchen gardener, you can give this recipe a spectacular twist by combining orange, yellow and purple baby carrots.

Spinach pancakes

The baby spinach plants that cropped throughout winter are now getting old. The leaves are a little tougher and will be best cooked, rather than raw. Just perfect for spinach pancakes.

Mix together four eggs, a cup of whole meal spelt flour and a cup of milk into a pancake batter. Then add a cup of chopped spinach and whiz the batter using a stick blender until it’s a smooth consistency.

Cook your pancakes in olive oil or butter. Top each pancake with runny poached eggs, micro herbs, a little-crumbled feta cheese and dukka.

Springtime in the garden celebrates green – in the produce for cooking and all around. It’s a season that promises a bright future as flowers transform into fruit and patches of soil sprout new plants.

Enjoy the crisp, sweet taste of spring in your kitchen gardening.

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Mia Swainson

Mia Swainson is passionate about creating a more sustainable world and believes that everyone can make a difference. Trained as an environmental engineer, Mia has worked in sustainable development with the Australian Government and community sector for more than 15 years. Mia’s work has taken her around the world to Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and back to Canberra. She currently tends her kitchen garden, cares for three young boys and is growing her executive coaching consultancy (miaswainson.com.au/wp). More about the Author

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