This is our guide to all that fresh and fruity in the Whau, aimed especially at newcomers to the Auckland climate, growing seasons and NZ food culture. It contains advice on what is good buying, or in season at the moment. Tui have a great planting guide online that I would recommend for more detail on growing. Look for the seasonal stars.
by Jann-Marie Ross
Apples are still nice and crunchy, although the season for picking ends in May. Softer and damaged apples are cheap, they are great stewed with brown sugar, cinnamon and a little water, or used in baking. Apple sauce is popular with pork.
Avocado makes a great addition to salads, or as an alternative spread to butter. Smash them on toast with salt and pepper. Guacamole is a favourite. Vegan desserts often use avocado for a creamy texture without dairy.
Bananas are the most popular fruit in NZ. They are imported and available all year round. Used in smoothies, baking and desserts, or just to eat. Mash them onto toast and sprinkle with sugar.
Grapefruit will be dropping off trees and rotting in gardens. Most Kiwis are happy to give a bagful to their friends. Juice them or eat cut in half and sprinkled with sugar. Be careful to check they don’t clash with medicines. SEASONAL STAR!!!
Kiwifruit Buy green kiwifruit for a tart taste, and golden for a sweeter version. Eat with a spoon or add to salads. They are in season April to October. Highly decorative. SEASONAL STAR!!!
Lemons Grown in many backyards. Juice them, or use them as a contrast to sweet flavours. If you make a hot lemon drink, let the water cool before adding the lemon. Vitamin C does not like heat. Lemon curd is a great pie filling or spread. SEASONAL STAR!!!
Mandarin are great buying right now. The perfect winter snack. You can grow them yourself. SEASONAL STAR!!!
Oranges are great buying now. Add to salads, peel and eat, or juice. You can grow them yourself. SEASONAL STAR!!!
Pears Peak harvest is Feb/March but usually available until October. Winter Nells are available now.
Tamarillo or tree tomato. Fruits June to July, but you may still find some. Eat fresh or poached in sugar and water.
Beans These are in season in the warmer months but are still good buying at this time of year.
Broccoli and Broccolini are always in season. Cook them till they are bright green and stop, for the best food value. You can grow these at this time of year but they take a while and attract fat green caterpillars. SEASONAL STAR!!!
Bok Choy is used in stir fries. It grows fast and is cheap. It will grow in your garden at this time of year but snails and slugs also love it. New Zealand has a wide range of vegetables available introduced by immigrants from Asia.
Brussel sprouts. Love them or hate them. These are in season May to October.
Cabbage is cheap and can be boiled, steamed or used in a stir fry or coleslaw. It keeps well in the fridge. Cabbage is available all year round but cheaper in winter. Purple cabbage looks great in a coleslaw, but if you cook it, the purple tint colours all the other ingredients. Chinese cabbage is softer and fleshier. You can grow cabbage at this time of year but they take a while, and they attract white butterfly. SEASONAL STAR!!!
Carrots are available all year, but are at their best in winter months. They keep well in the fridge. Grate them, dice them and slice them, a very versatile vegetable. Try microwaving with orange juice and honey. You can grow these yourself at this time of year. SEASONAL STAR!!!
Cauliflower is cheapest in winter and keeps well in fridge. Very good value right now. Great with a cheese sauce. You can grow it yourself at this time of year but it takes a while. SEASONAL STAR!!!
Celery Available all year, easy to grow in summer, although you can plant it now. Very versatile.
Daikon Radish A large radish you can grate or slice into salads.
Fennel is available March to August. It is a herb, a vegetable and a spice. Every part of the plant is edible.
Fresh herbs A herb garden is a great asset to a cook. Chives, rosemary and thyme will grow through winter but prefer the summer months. Rosemary is not soft like the other herbs, it is best cooked in a little oil to release the flavour, or rubbed onto roasts. Mint grows prolifically in New Zealand, plant it in a pot as it is invasive. Parsley will grow all year round and is easy to look after. Bay leaves will grow on a shrub in the back yard and are great in curries.
Garlic Plant on the shortest day and harvest on the longest. Available all year round. The NZ grown garlic is more expensive but more flavoursome than Chinese imported garlic. Garlic bolts are inexpensive, sweet and crunchy in stir fries.
Ginger Available all year around as it is imported.
Kale Available all year round. You can grow it yourself at this time of year.
Kumara Plant October and harvest in February. Boil or roast. A kumara roasted in a little oil is hard to beat.
Leek Available all year round but more plentiful in winter. Great with cheese sauce, or in a soup. SEASONAL STAR!!!
Lettuce Available but expensive in winter. Lettuce grows so easily in summer but in winter it grows slowly and is bitter.
Mescaline You can plant this salad crop yourself now.
Peas Plants like spring and autumn, in the summer months they get diseases easily.
Potato These crop in the warmer months and are easy to grow, although in Auckland they often suffer from psyllids. Be aware that they will keep coming up season after season as you always miss a few.
Rocket Grows plentifully at this time of year in your garden.
Silver beet, a New Zealand favourite. So easy to grow in your home garden, but snails and slugs love it too. SEASONAL STAR!!!
Spinach Grows plentifully in back yards at this time of year. When buying, use quickly as it deteriorates. SEASONAL STAR!!!
Spring onion Great buying and growing all year round. Plant the bottoms and they will grow again. Easy to grow from seed in your garden.
Yams Good value and delicious roasted in a little oil, add a little balsamic vinegar if you wish. SEASONAL STAR!!!
Keep in mind the Auckland water restrictions when growing at home. You don’t want to plant if you cannot water your crops in the summer. Keep in mind spring and autumn in NZ are usually warm and rainy. These conditions give many new plants and shrubs the best chance to survive. If you get frosts, delay planting your spring crops for another month.