The weather’s getting warmer so it’s time to plant your veges.

As we head into spring, many food-lovers will be making the most of a vegetable garden and starting to plan and plant a garden harvest.

Make sure you remove the last of the winter crops from the vege patch and make way for the new season. It's the perfect time to plant beetroot, celery and kale - just in time for the salad season.

Choose a sunny, sheltered spot that's easy to access for watering. As Garden to Table children will tell you - building a good foundation is the key to success in your garden and the better the soil, the more successful your vege garden.

Garden to Table, co-founded by food writer Catherine Bell, educates children about food, horticulture and their natural environment. Students aged between 7 and 10 work in small, hands-on groups under the supervision of specialist staff, community volunteers and their teachers.

Children at St Mary's Primary tend their plants.
Children at St Mary's Primary tend their plants.

The programme has many positive spin-offs for family and community life. It enables children to learn skills and have experiences that will influence and inform the rest of their lives and positively impact outcomes across their education, health and social development. It will also give them respect for others and the natural world.

Spring is a busy time for the Garden to Table Trust members as they work with 32 schools and 4000 primary students across the country, teaching them how to grow, harvest, prepare and share fresh, seasonal produce.

And last week, Garden to Table received a boost when 180 L'Oreal New Zealand staff traded kitten heels for gumboots and nail polish for nail guns as they built a brand new vegetable garden for Dingwall Trust residential care village in Papatoetoe. The trust provides support services to children and young people in need of out-of-home care.

The activity was L'Oreal NZ's contribution to Citizen Day when more than 24,000 L'Oreal employees world-wide volunteer each year for charity work.

Garden to Table's Moroccan Parsnips and Carrots

By Catherine Bell

Serves: 8-10 adults

600g carrots
600g parsnips
1½ tsp cumin seeds
1½ tsp sweet smoked paprika
½ tsp cinnamon
4 tbsp olive oil
½ cup water
2 cloves garlic
½ tsp salt
½ cup coriander
or mint, tightly packed
½ cup parsley
1 lemon
3 tbsp olive oil

1 Pre-heat the oven to 200C. Dry toast cumin seeds in small pan. Tip into a bowl and stir in the paprika, cinnamon and oil. Set aside.


2 Peel and cut the parsnips and carrots into long batons and put them into a shallow baking dish with 2 tbsp of the spiced oil, the water and season with salt. Toss well to coat.

3 Place in the oven and roast for 15 to 20 minutes until the vegetables are tender but not too soft and nicely golden on the edges.

4 To make the sauce, crush the garlic with some salt (do this in a mortar and pestle if you have one). Add the remaining 2 tbsp of spice oil to the mortar and grind to break up the seeds.

5 Chop the fresh herbs and combine with the garlic and spices in a small bowl. Grate the zest of the lemon and squeeze the juice. Add to the bowl along with the olive oil.

6 Pour the sauce over the carrots and parsnips and toss to coat. Transfer to a bowl and serve.

Apple, Sage and Onion Fritters

By Catherine Bell


Makes 12 x 5cm fritters

100g (¾ cup) plain flour
½ tsp salt
1 tbsp fresh sage
1 large egg
1 tbsp vegetable oil
150ml apple juice or apple cider
2 eating apples such as Braeburn
1 small red onion, finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Pinch dried chilli flakes
Vegetable oil

1 Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl. Finely chop the sage and add to the flour.

2 Separate the egg. Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture and add the egg yolk, vegetable oil and apple juice.

3 Using a wire whisk, gradually stir the dry ingredients into the liquid to form a smooth batter. Cover the batter and allow to stand for 15 to 20 minutes.

4 Peel, core and finely chop the apples, then stir into the batter. Finely chop the onion and add. Season to taste with salt, freshly ground pepper and a pinch of dried chilli flakes.


5 Just before deep-frying, whisk the egg white in a clean, dry bowl until stiff then lightly fold into the batter.

6 Preheat the oven to 100C, to keep fritters hot. Heat a little vegetable oil in a heavy-based frying pan. When the oil is sizzling, drop large spoonfuls of the batter mix into the pan. Shallow-fry the fritters until they are puffed and golden-brown.

7 Drain the fritters on kitchen paper, transfer to a serving platter and keep hot in the oven. Continue to fry batches of fritters in the same manner. Garnish the fritters with lemon wedges and serve immediately.