Cabbage 'Red Express' and parsley planting


In this section, we discuss edible plants to grow in your vegetable garden (herbs and fruit trees are discussed in separate sections). Even so, 'edibles' cover a wide variety of plants. Vegetables are plants usually treated as annuals to supply produce to your table. Different vegetables suit different times of the year. It is vital to get sowing and planting times right. 

Having an edible garden (or even a few edible plants in pots) has many benefits. An edible garden provides fresh, healthy food, is a good source of exercise, saves money and improves the biodiversity of your garden by supporting insects such as bees and bumblebees. As well as being useful as food, many vegetables make attractive garden plants, such as rainbow chard, triple curled parsley and purple-leaved cabbage.

What to grow
Remember to grow the food you like to eat, not just what sounds interesting! 

Vegetable gardening is very seasonal. The main planting times are late October/November for summer edibles and April for winter crops. To spread harvest, we advise successive plantings. Quick rotation crops such as coriander, pak choy and lettuce should be sown or planted at regular intervals to ensure a continuous harvest.

Some vegetables can be bought in punnets, so can be planted straight into the garden. Always plant at the same depth as they are in the container. Those that don’t like root disturbance are better grown from seed, such as peas, beans, sweetcorn, coriander and beetroot. If you let a few plants set seed, you can harvest your seed for future sowing.

Visit our 'Plants for Auckland' database for the easiest edibles to grow in Auckland. For further suggestionsdownload our Summer vegetables for Auckland or our Winter vegetables for Auckland brochure.

Top image: Cabbage 'Red Express'

How to plant

  Healthy soil is essential for producing healthy mineral-rich vegetables. The use of ample organic material is fundamental to the success of most vegetable gardens. You can build healthy soil through composting, worm farming, making liquid manures, sowing green crops and applying blood and bone and lime. For more information about healthy soils, click here.

Minimise diseases and pests by rotating your crops each year and planting companion plants between and around your fruit and vegetables. Try to plant the main vegetable groups in a different location from last season. E.g.

  • tomatoes, potatoes and capsicums;
  • cabbages, broccoli and other brassicas;
  • legumes such as peas and beans;
  • root crops such as parsnips and carrots.

Go to our Sowing seeds and Planting seedlings pages for more details. 

It is very useful to map where different crops are planted for future reference. You can also make notes on the performance of different vegetables to inform future planning.

How to grow

We advocate growing vegetables organically. We do not use synthetic insecticides and fungicides. The better the health of the soil, the healthier your produce will be. 

Choose a sheltered, warm site with good drainage. In heavy soils, add compost prior to planting and then apply general fertiliser. It also pays to broadcast a generous application of lime every few years to prevent the soil from becoming acidic. It is beneficial to many crops, particularly the cabbage family. For more information about fertiliser, click here

The vegetable garden is one of the areas of the garden that needs the most attention. Seeds and young seedlings often need to be looked at daily to ensure their soil is still damp. Follow our water tips to ensure success. In hot, dry periods apply regular deep watering. Liquid fertiliser can be applied fortnightly to enhance production.

Some vegetables like climbing beans, peas and tomatoes will require some support such as a trellis or large stakes. Sweetcorn always produces a better crop if planted in a block rather than long rows.

Many crops are best picked when they are young as they have better flavour and are more tender. E.g. courgettes, cucumbers, green beans. Lettuce seed is best sown in cooler months as they don’t always do well in very hot conditions. 

It is particularly important to protect young seedlings from slugs and snails by applying bait or other means.