by Jann-Marie Ross
Spring is here!!! Planting begins! Your guide to all that is fresh and fruity in the Whau, especially aimed at newcomers to the Auckland climate and NZ food culture. Advice on what is good buying, or in season at the moment. Look for the seasonal stars. Tuigarden.co.nz have a great planting guide online that I would recommend for more detail on growing.
Apples are still nice and crunchy, although the season for picking ends in May. Softer and damaged apples are cheap. They taste 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.
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. 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.
Mandarin are great buying right now. The perfect winter snack. You can grow them yourself.
Oranges are great buying now. Add to salads, peel and eat, or juice. You can grow them yourself.
Pears Peak harvest is Feb/March but usually available until October.
Tangelos A cross between a mandarin and a grapefruit. In season September to December. Seasonal Star!!!
Asparagus Boil till bright green and serve with olive oil or butter, salt and pepper. Seasonal star!!!
Beans Plant now. Buying is good value.
Beetroot Plant now. Best harvested Nov to April.
Broccoli and Broccolini are always in season. Cook them till they are bright green and no more, 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. Plant now. Seasonal Star!!!
Brussel sprouts. Love them or hate them.Theseare 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. Plant now. Seasonal Star!!!
Capsicum Plant now. Looks great in stir fry and salad
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. Plant now.
Cauliflower is cheapest in winter and keeps well in fridge. Very good value right now. Great with a cheese sauce. Plant now, but it takes a while to be ready. Seasonal Star!!!
Celery Available all year, easy to grow in summer, although you can plant it now. Very versatile. Seasonal Star!!!
Cucumber Plant now ready for summer salads. Very expensive to buy right now.
Courgette Plant now. Very expensive to buy right now.
Chilli Plant now.
Daikon Radish A large radish you can grate or slice into salads.
Fennel is harvested 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. Plant coriander and parsley now. Both are Seasonal Stars!!!
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. Plant now. Seasonal Star!!!
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. Plant August till April but it does take a while to be ready to harvest.
Lettuce Available but expensive in winter. Plant now, harvest now. Seasonal Star!!!
Mescaline You can plant this salad crop yourself now. Seasonal Star!!!
Onions Seasonal Star!!!
Peas Plants like spring and autumn, in the summer months they get diseases easily. Plant now.
Potatoes 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. Plant now. New Zealand’s most popular vegetable. Never eat green potatoes, they are poisonous.
Pumpkin Plant now.
Parsnips Plant now. Seasonal Star!!!
Radish Plant now and add to salads.
Rocket Grows plentifully at this time of year in your garden.
Rhubarb Plant now. Seasonal Star!!! Never eat the leaves as they are poisonous. Cut stalks into chunks, cover with water and boil till soft and falling apart. Add sugar to taste. Adding a few frozen berries can improve the colour if it looks more green than red.
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. SEASONAL STAR!!!
Sweetcorn Plant now
Tomatoes Plant now. I recommend Sweet 100 and Money Maker. One of the most popular foods in NZ.
Yams Good value and delicious roasted in a little oil, add a little balsamic vinegar if you wish.
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.