Seasonal Garden Guide for New Zealand Winter

Getting out in the garden right now doesn’t have a lot of appeal, but a couple of ‘power hours’ can make a big difference!  

Feed soil with blood and bone, sheep pellets, compost and/or a complete fertiliser to replenish nutrients, dig in well before planting. Even in winter mulching is important. Add a layer of mulch about 5cm thick around your plants to protect from the cold, conserve moisture and add nitrogen back to the soil. Apply a regular tonic to all garden areas to help prepare the soil and reduce transplant shock for your spring planting. Be vigilant with weed control, weeds compete for valuable nutrients.  Prune and deadhead roses, shrubs and perennials as well as any plants that have finished flowering, to encourage new growth.  If frosts are a concern, plant crops into containers that you can move around to catch the sun and consider a cloche or growing tunnel. Move any frost tender patio plants into a sheltered position.

What to Plant


Broad beans, beetroot, broccoli, cabbages, cauliflowers, cavolo nero, celery, garlic, kale, onion, mizuna, rhubarb, rocket, shallots, silverbeet, spinach, coriander, parsley, peas, rosemary, sage, thyme.


Winter is the best time for planting new season deciduous fruit trees. Select the healthiest specimens with straight stems. Be sure to stake newly planted trees.  Strawberries can be planted in winter! Research shows that planting strawberries in NZ's winter temperatures will produce a higher yield in summer. In frost prone areas it is best to protect plants from the elements or wait until a little later to plant, so as not to compromise those delicate, white flowers.

Winter is the best time to plant new season roses and lots of varieties will be available in your garden centre. The plants are dormant in winter, so transplanting stress is reduced.



Garlic likes moist soil and does not like competing with weeds. Here you can see how closely garlic can be planted and the dying back of the foliage at harvesting time.



The most versatile superfood to include in your kitchen garden, garlic doesn’t take up much space and is really easy to grow! Traditionally, garlic is planted in June on the shortest day of the year when the soil is cool, and harvested in December on the longest day. Garlic thrives in any well-drained garden soil in a sunny position, and also in pots.

Prepare the soil by digging it over to a depth of about 20cm and adding plenty of compost or well-rotted organic material, plus a dose of vegetable fertiliser. When your soil or pot is ready, break the garlic bulb up into individual cloves taking the largest undamaged cloves from around the outside of the bulb.

  • Press the cloves into the soil with the pointy end up, so they are at least 5cm deep. Planting garlic deep enough is very important, so that the growing bulb doesn’t become too heavy to be supported by its roots.
  • Once leaves appear on the shoots, you’ll know your bulbs are staring to form. At this stage, feed fortnightly for a couple of months with a liquid fertiliser high in nitroge
  • Garlic likes moist soil so water regularly for a good crop. If growing garlic in pots, be extra careful to not let it dry out.
  • One month before harvest, reduce watering to improve the keeping quality of your garlic. If flower stalks appear, remove them, as this will reduce the size of the garlic bulbs when harvested.
  • Harvest garlic in December - on the longest day of the year when the leaves turn brown and begin to die back.
  • Store the bulbs, foliage and all, in a cool, dry, well ventilated place for at least a week. When the tops are dry your garlic is ready to store, well done!



An unassuming little nutrient powerhouse, Pak Choy is dead easy to grow. Find a deliciously simple salad recipe below.


Pak Choy / Bok Choy

Dead easy to grow, Pak choi is a great source of nutrients, including omega-3s, vitamins A and C as well as the antioxidant mineral zinc. It can be cooked or eaten raw (surprisingly palatable and superb sliced up with an asian-style dressing), added to smoothies and even works well on the BBQ.  This is a great vegetable for planting in a pot or a tub because of its shallow root system.

  • Three plants can easily grow in a small pot.
  • If you have plenty of room, plant them trowel-distance apart.
  • Full sun will give you the best results, though they do cope with some shade.
  • Their main requirement is watering at least twice a week, once plants are established.
  • Protect from slugs and snails - they’ll be along quick smart to enjoy the Choy.

To harvest use a sharp knife and cut off just above soil level, you can leave the stem and root in the ground, more shoots will appear and these are edible, too. Keep planting a few extra plants each month for a continued supply

Asian-style Pak Choy Salad

Dressing: Combine in a jar and shake.

1 small red chilli, deseeded & sliced finely

2 tablespoons tamari or light soy sauce

1/3 cup rice bran oil

dash of sesame oil

1/4 cup rice wine vinegar or similar

1 teaspoon mirin, sugar or rice malt syrup

3 heads Pak Choy sliced finely, leaves and stems

Optional inclusions: diced mango, capsicum: julienned carrot, radish; sliced spring onion; lightly toasted nuts/seeds, e.g. sesame seeds, flaked almonds, sunflower seeds; chopped coriander and/or parsley

Add vegetables to a large bowl, pour in dressing and toss well to coat. Let it sit for a few minutes to blend the flavours. Sprinkle with nuts/seeds and herbs, serve immediately.

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