Top NZ Autumn & Winter Vegetables: Arborist’s Picks

As the leaves turn and the days grow shorter, many New Zealand gardeners wonder, “What should I plant this autumn and winter?” The cooler months bring unique challenges and opportunities for your veggie patch, and as experienced arborists, we’re here to guide you through the best choices for your garden.

planting in nz

Embracing the Cooler Months: Autumn and Winter Planting

Autumn Planting for a Lush Winter Garden

Autumn is an ideal time to start sowing seeds for your winter garden. Vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower thrive when planted during this season. Use seed trays to kickstart your seedlings before transferring them to the ground. This is also a great time to plant root crops like carrots and beetroot, which can be sown directly into the soil.

planting cauliflower

Winter Veges: A Bounty of Options

When it comes to winter veggies, New Zealand gardeners have many options. Broad beans, spinach, and kale are hardy and highly nutritious, making them perfect for winter harvesting. Don’t forget about planting garlic and onions, as these crops can handle the winter chill and are essential ingredients in many winter dishes.

Protecting Your Plants

Guarding Against Frost and Water Stress

As the temperature drops, protecting plants becomes crucial. Utilise frost cloth to shield your seedlings from harsh frosts. Water stress can also be a concern during these months, so ensure your plants are adequately hydrated, especially during dry spells.

Reducing Transplant Shock

Be mindful of transplant shock when transplanting seedlings, such as broccoli or spring onions, from seed trays to your garden. Gently acclimatise them to outdoor conditions and ensure they are planted at the correct ground level to promote healthy growth.

Citrus Trees and Fruit Trees: Adding Variety to Your Garden

While vegetables are the stars of the winter garden, don’t overlook the value of fruit trees. Citrus trees, in particular, can be a great addition, offering fresh produce and a beautiful aesthetic to your garden. Remember, these trees may require specific care, such as liquid feeding, to ensure they thrive in the cooler climate.

citrus tree

Sowing Seeds for Future Harvests

Spring Onions, Lettuce, and More

As you look towards the early spring, it’s time to start sowing seeds for your summer crops. Spring onions, lettuce, and other leafy greens can be started in seed trays, ready to be transplanted as the weather warms. This ensures a continuous cycle of growth and harvest in your vegetable garden.

The Joy of Gardening

Creating a Beautiful, Productive Space

Gardening is not just about growing crops; it’s about creating a space of beauty and tranquillity. Intersperse your vegetable plants with beautiful flowers to attract pollinators and add colour to your garden.

Liquid Feeding and Soil Health

Maintaining soil health is crucial for a productive garden. Regular liquid feeding can provide essential nutrients to your plants, promoting robust growth. Also, incorporating compost into your soil can improve its quality, benefiting everything you plant.

Maximising Your Autumn and Winter Garden

Sowing Seeds for a Sustainable Future

As we delve deeper into the cooler months, the importance of sowing seeds becomes even more evident. Seed packets of vegetables like peas, spinach, and kale are not just planting materials; they promise future meals. In your seed trays, start these seeds early to ensure they have a strong start before transplanting them into your garden. Remember, the key to successful sowing is consistent care and monitoring.

Growing Crops in Pots and Containers

Not all gardening has to be in the ground. Utilising pots and containers can be an excellent way for urban gardeners to grow their vegetables. Crops like lettuce, bok choy, and spinach do exceptionally well in containers, making them perfect for balcony or patio gardens. Plus, container gardening can help manage disease problems by isolating crops.

planting in pots

The Importance of Crop Rotation

Practice crop rotation to keep your soil healthy and reduce disease risk. This means not planting the same family of vegetables in the same spot each year. For instance, if you planted brassicas like broccoli and cauliflower last year, switch to a different family, like legumes or root vegetables, this season.

Preparing for Early Spring

Planning for Summer Crops

As you enjoy the harvests of your winter garden, it’s crucial to start planning for summer. Early spring is the perfect time to sow seeds for summer crops. Think about what you’d like to eat and see in your garden – tomatoes, cucumbers, or perhaps some vibrant flowers to complement your vegetables.

planting seeds

Transplanting Seedlings with Care

When the last frost has passed, it’s time to transplant your seedlings outdoors. This is where your knowledge of reducing transplant shock comes into play. Gradually introduce your plants to the outdoor environment and ensure they are well-watered and protected from strong winds or intense early spring sun.

The Art of Liquid Feeding and Soil Care

Feeding Your Plants for Optimal Growth

Liquid feeding is more than just nourishment; it’s a way to ensure your plants get the necessary nutrients in a readily available form. This is particularly important for heavy feeders like tomatoes and fruit trees. A balanced liquid fertiliser can make a significant difference in the health and yield of your crops.

Composting: Turning Waste into Gold

Compost isn’t just decomposed organic matter; it’s black gold for gardeners. Incorporating compost into your soil improves its structure, fertility, and water retention. This is especially important in New Zealand, where soils vary greatly from region to region.

compost for garden

The Final Touches: Aesthetic and Practical Considerations

Integrating Beauty and Functionality

Your vegetable garden doesn’t have to be purely functional. Integrate beautiful flowers and ornamental plants to create an aesthetically pleasing space. Flowers like marigolds and nasturtiums add colour and help deter pests, making them attractive and practical.

Watering Wisely

Water stress can be a significant issue, especially in the dryer regions of New Zealand. Implementing smart watering practices, such as early morning or drip irrigation, can help conserve water and ensure your plants get the moisture they need without waste.

watering garden

Wrapping Up: Your Winter Garden Awaits

As we conclude this guide, remember that gardening is a journey, not just a destination. Each season brings challenges and rewards. By choosing suitable crops, like winter veggies and fruit trees, and employing the right techniques, like protecting plants and proper soil care, you can enjoy a productive and beautiful garden throughout the cooler months in New Zealand.

We hope this guide inspires you to get your hands dirty and plant. Happy gardening from all of us at Apex Arborists!


Gardening during the autumn and winter months in New Zealand can be advantageous. With the proper selection of crops, such as winter veggies, citrus trees, and beautiful flowers, and the proper care techniques, like protecting plants from frost and ensuring good soil health, your garden can thrive all year round.

Remember, every plant has its unique needs, and as arborists, we understand the importance of catering to these needs to ensure a bountiful harvest. Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or just starting, we hope this guide helps you create a lush, productive garden this autumn and winter.


Picture of Dylan Heath

Dylan Heath

Dylan Heath is a fully qualified arborist with over 13 years of experience working in both the private and local council sectors. He comes with a wealth of knowledge, skill and passion for arboriculture.