Your guide to all that is fresh and fruity in the Whau, especially aimed at newcomers to Auckland. The salad days are here! Look for the seasonal stars. Advice on what is good buying, planting, or in season at the moment. tuigarden.co.nz have a great planting guide that I would recommend for more detail on growing. Now is the time to plant, but only if you have access to water for your plants as restrictions are still in place. Keep in mind that it is still sometimes wet, so slugs and snails will try to eat your plants.
Apples are available all year, although the season for picking is Feb to 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. You can grow some varieties yourself, but most buy them.
Blueberries Begin to come into season, price is still high. Buy frozen for value. Plant all year round.
Boysenberries Begin to come into season, price is still high. Buy frozen for value.
Blackberry Plant now but be careful it doesn’t grow out of control as can become a weed. Harvest is Dec to March. Buy frozen for value.
Grapes Available all year round but currently expensive as imported. You can grow grapes yourself but it can be tricky.
Grapefruit The season finished at the end of October. Juice or eat sugar sprinkled with a spoon. 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.
Lemons Grown in many backyards so plant now. 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. Lemons are cheaper to buy now then they have been for a while, great in salad dressings. SEASONAL STAR!!!
Limes Plant trees now. Great to add to Asian cooking or dressings.
Mandarin Plant trees now. The perfect healthy snack. They are available in shops now, go for a mandarin that is easy to peel.
Oranges Plant orange trees now. Add to salads, peel and eat, or juice.
Passionfruit Plant now.
Pears Peak harvest is Feb/March but usually available all year. Chinese Ya pears are great buying now.
Raspberry Plant now but control from spreading. Buy frozen for value now.
Strawberries Plant now for summer, available to buy but the price is high.
Tangelos A cross between a mandarin and a grapefruit. In season September to December.SEASONAL STAR!!!
Watermelon Plant now for summer. Going to be in short supply this year.
Asparagus Boil till bright green and serve with olive oil or butter, salt and pepper. Makes wonderful soup and is great in a quiche. Price will continue to drop till the season is over in Jan. Planting takes 2 years to harvest from crowns planted in winter, then crops for years to come. SEASONAL STAR!!!
Beans Plant now. Buying is good value as they are in season Nov to May. Snails and slugs will try to eat young plants. SEASONAL STAR!!!
Beetroot Plant early spring and late autumn. 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. These are in season May to October so not available.
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 attract white butterfly. Most Kiwis switch to lettuce growing in warmer weather.
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. Still good value right now. Great with a cheese sauce.
Celery Available all year, easy to grow in summer. Very versatile.
Cucumber Plant now ready for summer salads. Price is still high but coming down.
Courgette Plant now but needs lots of room and full sun. Good buying right now. SEASONAL STAR!!!
Chilli Plant now.
Daikon Radish A large radish you can grate or slice into salads.
Eggplant Plant now.
Fresh herbs A herb garden is a great asset to a cook. Plant chives, rosemary and thyme, coriander. 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. 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. 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 So easy to grow you can do it in a pot. Plant now, harvest now. Generally there are two types, heading lettuce like Iceberg involves cutting off the whole head when ready. The second type is a picking lettuce, you pluck off leaves and leave the rest growing, eg Frisby. SEASONAL STAR!!!
Onions Good buying all year round.
Peas Plants like spring and autumn, in the summer months they get diseases easily.
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 Out of season.
Radish Plant now and add to salads.
Rocket Grows plentifully at this time of year in your garden. Water or it will go to seed. SEASONAL STAR!!!
Rhubarb Plant now. 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. Plant now. 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. Buy frozen or tinned for value now.
Tomatoes Plant now. I recommend Sweet 100 and Money Maker. One of the most popular fresh foods in NZ. Snails will eat young plants. The price is still high but on the way down.
Watercress Wash before eating and use quickly. Lovely with lemon and olive oil.
Yams Delicious roasted in a little oil, add a little balsamic vinegar if you wish.
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.