June In The Vegie Patch + Greenhouse

winter missions

I’m not the only one who loves winter. Garlic, onions, all the brassica’s, chard, endive, parsley and all manner of leafy greens love winter too. Salads and beetroot survive it, but very slowly so if you live in cooler places, best get them under cover from now on in.


Crimson clover greencrop sown growing with young brassicas

Direct Sow

  • Greencrops in any gaps – beside, or beneath, such easy fertility. Make a mixture and sow any gaps (even tiny ones!)
  • Mizuna – such a good value leafy green
  • Rocket and coriander in the greenhouse from now on in, unless its warm enough at yours, outside.

Tray Sow

Direct or Tray Sow

  • Broadbeans
  • Spinach, bok choy and beetroot, in the warmth of the greenhouse if needs be.


Celery does so well in the winter greenhouse
  • Broadbeans, peas and brassicas for spring eating.
  • Garlic, spring onions, shallots, potato onions, red onions or brown onions
  • Spinach, beetroot, celery, saladings, bok choy, gai lan – in the greenhouse or under a cloche, to speed growth along.
  • Asparagus crowns for future springs. Visit your local asparagus grower to purchase unless you have the patience to grow your own from seed.



broccoli shoots - such a useful harvest

Late summer planted broccoli are providing loads of useful shoots – they’re so big hearted, they give and give! Once the main broccoli head has been harvested, many side shoots will spring forth. For more shoots, leave as much central stem as you can when you take the main head.

Harvesting regularly is a win for longevity – it prevents them heading off to seed which signals the end of the shoots. Each successive round of shoots decreases in size, but there are more of them.

Keep broccoli in good shape by removing old ratty leaves and older branches – cut them off where they meet the stem. This opens the plant to light and air, keeps it stocky and stimulates fresh, green productive shoots. You can keep broccoli plants going for ages in this way.


The garden fork stays by the leeks to make harvest easy

Leeks are at peak perfection right now. Get them up before they start to develop seed heads and a hard central stalk. The roots really hold onto the soil, so slide a fork in to loosen things up before levering them out. I cut the tops and roots while out in the garden and pop them on the compost. Rinsing leeks at the outside tap saves mud in the kitchen!


Parsnips are better by far after the first frost, but still lovely in frost free gardens. They can get really long, so in order to get them out whole, its easier to first loosen the soil. A forksta is awesome if you have one, otherwise a garden fork.


yam harvest ediblebackyard nz

I’m so grateful to yams because they’re ready in winter – not busy old autumn. And there’s no preserving required either. Just patience.

Yams fatten up threefold in the cold. Guaranteed big fat sweeties after a few frosts and the tops have died off.  If you’ve rushed in to harvest and been disappointed with your crop – it may just be that you were too impetuous, young at heart perhaps. You’ll be amazed at what happens in the yam patch after cold. Wait it out, my friends.

In praise of Kale

red russian kale ediblebackyard nz

Such a useful plant – nourishing food, a good looking weed reducing groundcover and an easy source of homegrown OM.

  • team with lupin, daikon and phacelia for a robust winter greenmanure.
  • eat it
  • feed it to the chooks
  • harvest for mulch or compost ingredient as you need
  • plant closely in groups to cover any bare spaces

Winter Missions

Increasing this perennial area a little more each year by simply laying cardboard on top the grass and spreading a woody mulch thickly before planting into the mulch.
  • Clean and sharpen spades and pruning tools. Once a year is better than never, and sharp edges are a treat. Good for your body, and better for your trees – making for clean cuts that heal fast.
  • If those missions are all ticked off, you’re into the fun business of dividing and planting out perennials, making new beds and planting trees. Tick away with it all, slow and steady. Give those improvements wings while there is sod all to do in the vegie patch.

The Greenhouse


It’s the chooks favourite time of year! They hit the greenhouse once the mustard greencrops (sown in April beneath the summer crops) are over their heads.

I separate the chooks from greenhouse crops of saladings, celery, beetroot, spinach and potatoes, by pegging birdnet to the overhead wires. They’ll have access here until August – turning the greencrop into the soil, bug hunting, fertilising and making compost for the summer greenhouse crops.

If you don’t have chooks, slash the greencrop down and drag it off the bed. Spread a generous layer of compost and/ or vermicastings, sow a mixed greencrop and scatter the slash back on as mulch. Living roots are the fastest way to fertile, stable soils – keep them coming.


  1. Thanks Kath! Always helpful and inspiring!

  2. Tricia Joe says

    I’ve discovered the Dalmatian cabbage, a collard. It’s lasted ages and is a delicious addition to a slow cooked winter stew. I’ve planted heaps and am grateful for it’s plentiful and long lived harvest!

    On another note I bought mustard seeds a few years ago, but almost never have an empty bed. As long as I keep building with compost etc does it matter, or should I deliberately leave one empty.?

    • Collards are awesome Trish! If there’s no room for mustard, there’s just no room. Not a problem! You could try using your mustard beneath fruit trees or as a living mulch beneath tomatoes or beans in the summer. happy gardening!

  3. Hi Kath, I have a yam question please! My harvest this year was a mix of nice big fat yams, along with lots of smaller ones too. Should I use the tiddlers to sprout and replant for next years crop, or am I better to save some decent sized ones to use instead? Does the seed size make any difference to the next year’s harvest? Thank you.

    • good for you for growing fat yams! small ones are perfect for seed… eyeball size ish, not the really squitty ones ok.

      • Pauline Webb says

        Thanks Kath, they will have a new patch . I have recently bought Neutrog Mycogold – a mix of mycorhizza that our soils lack due to their ancient age. That and seaweed might help. Will let you know in a year. Pauline

    • Pauline Webb says

      Hi Kath Another Yam question. I’m in Melbourne Australia and growing Yams for a 3rd season. My soil was heavy loam ammemded with home compost, blood and bone, maybe even some rockdust, watered through summer but maybe irregularly in a semi shaded (summer) to shady in winter patch. The issue is the difficulty in growing large yams. I manage a small crop and a few (largest) at 3cm with most at 1cm or smaller. They were planted in November. What need I do to be successful. I have not harvested yet as we have not had any frosts to sweeten them. Pauline

      • Hi Pauline, your set up sounds sweet for yams but a bit heavy handed perhaps on the feeding – being a root crop they dont need alot. Just compost and mulch or + a dusting of rock at most. The other thing I find makes a difference are spacings. I never water my yams – though we have 1300mm of rain, depends how you go in this regard in Melbourne. Also just wondering what you are using for seed. Love Kath

        • Pauline Webb says

          Thanks Kath, my rainfall is much lower – 2018 541mm; 2019 521mm; 2020 952(la nina); 2021 808mm; only 287mm so far. I deep soak twice a week in summer but it has not been done for a while. I haven’t harvested yet as there has not been a frost this winter. At least twice I have bought 1 inch yams from another state which means they are not climarised here. Last year and this I planted my own of similar size. I plant approx 300mm apart. Do they cope with total shade at this time of year? I have them near an olive tree so there is full shade. Pauline

          • What I reckon Pauline – is to try a new spot. If plants arent growing well, its cos they dont have their needs met… try somewhere new 🙂 Just use good old homemade compost and mulch and space them well. Fingers crossed!

  4. Hi Kath my garden has so much chickweed, but is it actually good for it. It just takes over and I feel like I’m always taking it out. Should I just leave it to multiply?? Thanks again.

    • Chickweed is awesome! Its a sign of good fertility so rejoice 🙂 Just leave it as a nourishing living mulch around plants and when it gets in too close, weed it out and pop it on the compost or gobble it up!

  5. Hi Kath,
    I managed to secure some stropharia mushroom from Joanna which has been sitting g in the plastic bag for two weeks. I am waiting in some ramial wood chips. Are they ok for another two weeks in their plastic home?

  6. sandra cully says

    I was so proud of myself, beautiful big strong broccoli plants, but it wasn’t to be, teeny tiny heads. Any idea of what might have gone wrong? We were so excited, they seemed to be doing so well.

    • Oh tricky things to get right Sandra – dont be disheartened. The techy term is buttoning off. Caused by some form of stress – most likely weather a sudden cold snap, or drying out at a key moment or unbalanced soils. Dont spend too much time analysing it is my advice. Reflect on the weather. Check in with your soil. See what you see then let it go and harvest the heads and stalks before they open and more shoots will come. A good safe guard is to plant a mixture of brassica together so that there’s always something to harvest.

  7. Looking at your picture of ladybugs, they look like they might be harlequin bugs. Do you have any tips for keeping those at bay?

    • Its a loosing battle and alot of head aches to stem the tide Wendy. The best bet is to be as diverse as you can in your plantings and manage your garden with as little intervention as you can manage to let natural cycles take care of all things.

  8. Jackie Todd says

    couldn’t find the “making new beds ‘ link ?

  9. Thanks for all your good advice, Kath, so kind and encouraging. And keeping the humour in the mahi 🙂 Love the list of winter jobs – I thought I would hibernate but maybe not lol!!!

  10. Hi Kath, thanks for your blog. I got many useful info.
    My question is: what organic insecticide would you use for diamond back moth and slugs. They appeared in my brassicas:( Is Neem oil good?


    • Hiya Kate, spray the crop with kiwicare caterpillar killer active ingredient baccillus thurengensis (BT) which is acceptable in an organic situation in small amounts. There is a predatory wasp that manages them also. Read this article https://www.ediblebackyard.co.nz/natural-ways-with-pests/ for ideas to build your beneficial insects and while you do use BT/crop covers/ squashing the caterpillars to manage them. Neem doesnt work for caterpillars ok.

  11. Maria Higginson says

    Hi Kath
    We are new to Glasshouse Gardening – we have 4 raised Beds and have filled with ‘Grandpa’s Soil mix’/perlite mix.
    What is the best way to keep the soil safe and the worms working. We have bought your book so lots or reading to do
    Thanks Maria

  12. Kia ora Kath
    Great advice again and in two weeks when I’m back home in Gisborne I’ll be looking to do a lot of pruning – I haven’t attempted the feijoa tree yet (moved to house 3 years ago) but it’s huge as in about one and half storeys high – I think I read that you can take out a third of the tree and it will be okay? We still get an amazing harvest but there is a lot of dead wood up there I’ve noticed – we have lime trees as well which have gone crazy so I presume the rule of thumb for them would be the same? And finally I planted yams in Nov but their growth which was prolific for a few months died down a lot – I spotted some yams at the surface the other day and quickly covered them with soil – I’m wondering if I should have mounded them quite high from the start? Appreciate your help.
    Ngā mihi nui

    • Fun times Melissa! I’ve got posts on the website with the details for all those things 🙂 How to grow Yams How to prune citrus and of course How to prune Feijoas – at the bottom of the Feijoa post I go through restoring bigger trees. Enjoy! K

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