What to Plant in Your Vegie Patch in Winter


A journalist once asked me “Whats the best time of year to plant a garden?, and I said “Anytime!” There is not one food growing season, there are four!”

As long as your garden isn’t under snow – you can continue to plant and sow all winter long. Things grow slowly, but still they grow, providing a lovely continuity of cropping of harvests.

Plant or sow something each week, and never go hungry 

Channel your inner farmer – don’t think about it, just get on with it! Don your beanie and get out amongst it. Even if just for a little while. You’ll feel so good afterwards – alive infact, and quietly triumphant.

The heavy clay exception

Soil that is wet and heavy, squelchy – should be left well alone until it dries out. If this is your lot, grow your winter and spring crops in pots, and learn how to transform it here.

What to plant and sow

The only way you learn what to plant and sow when, is by mucking in and doing it! Try stuff out and see what works and what doesn’t. This here is what I can plant in winter, in my Horowhenua garden, lower half of the north island, NZ. Tweak it to suit your place, and your palate.

Direct Sow

lupin in
  • Direct sow lupin greencrops after heavy feeders like broccoli
  • Mizuna – a hardy, easy, spicy winter green
  • Rocket
  • Broadbeans and peas. Tray sow and transplant at seedling stage if you have heavy wet soils, or lots of slugs.


brocolli seedlings
  • Broccoli, cauliflower or cabbage for late spring harvest.
  • Bok choy or kale for late winter harvest.
  • Garlic, shallots and onions for summer harvest. Spring onions for spring harvest.
  • Globe artichokes for spring harvest.
  • Plant asparagus crowns for future springs (about 3 years before you can harvest, but oh so worth it)

Vegetables to plant or sow under cover

plastic cloche spring

By under cover I mean in the greenhouse, under a cloche or under bottles. Old windows and car windscreens are fab as well – whatever you have to hand that can warm the soil and air, and thus speed tender seedlings along. Another option is to grow them in pots close to your house.

  • Direct sow coriander, beetroot, spinach or lettuce
  • Plant out spinach, lettuce or beetroot.

Good Things Take Time

It’s important you understand the truth of how long from seedling to harvest. Good things take time. In the matter of a broccoli you’re looking at 3 months, a lettuce 6 weeks, garlic 6 months. Add some frosty cold weather and everything slows, almost grinding to a halt. So when I say planting the winter garden – it’s just that – planting. The food you’re harvesting now was thoughtfully planted in autumn.