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Source: Auckland Council

Anytime is a good time to plant a vegetable garden; it’s about seasonal planting, knowing what to plant and when. This is also a great time of year to green up your garden to improve local biodiversity, encourage more native species to thrive and help offset your carbon emissions.

Auckland Council’s Live Lightly team share their tips below for what to grow and eat during the winter season and how to improve your garden’s sustainability.

What to harvest/eat at this time of year

Eating fresh produce that’s in-season has many benefits. Seasonal fruit and vegetables are frequently better quality and many winter fruit and vegetables are also high in Vitamin C and energy to keep us healthy and warm over the cooler months. Eating seasonally is often the cheapest option too.

Check out 5 a day for the great range of winter fruits and vegetables currently in season – including kiwifruit, grapefruit, oranges, watercress, brussels sprouts and parsnips.

Growing a winter vegetable garden

Growing your own vegetables can be a cost-effective way to integrate more plant-based meals into your diet. It’s also a great activity to do with your whānau, helps to keep you healthy and reduces your impact on the planet. 

Winter is a good time to plant a wide range of vegetables, including beetroot, broad beans, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, lettuce, spinach, parsnip, radish, rocket, silver beet and spring onion.

For cost-effective tips on how to set up a sustainable garden, check out Kai Auckland or My Backyard Garden Project.

Tips for sustainable and low water use gardening 

Richard Main from Gardens4Health offers some advice on how to keep plants healthy during a drought and future-proof your garden:

  • Plan ahead by installing a water tank connected to down pipes to collect rainwater off lead-free roofs for watering plants and cleaning of tools and equipment. You don’t need consent for some rain tanks for outdoor water use, provided they meet the guidelines for size and support above ground.
  • If you’d like to create your own rainwater barrel harvesting system, check out these DIY instructions from EcoMatters.
  • Small barrels connected to a dripper line irrigation system are ideal to keep young fruit trees alive during dry spells (you can choose from 200 litres, 500 litres or 1000 litre water tanks).
  • Use mulches such as decomposed leaves, cardboard, soft tissue hedge trimmings, tree mulch, straw and hay around vegetables and herbs and lay sacking, old carpet to hold and absorb water in the soil on pathways and around ornamentals.
  • Get prepared by planting native and exotic shelter plants to reduce the drying impact of winds. Create shades for those leafy veggies by planting taller crops, e.g. broad beans on the northern side of the garden beds, inter-planting small size veggies among larger plants, thus reducing the transpiration and evaporation during the dry spells.
  • Use terracotta or clay pots as they hold moisture better than plastic containers.

Grow a native plant and remove pests from your garden

Investing in native plants will attract native birds and other wildlife to your property and community. Not only that, but planting is one of the best ways to offset some of our unavoidable emissions, filter our air and make our city a nicer place to be. For advice on what to plant and where to source it, visit Auckland Council Biodiversity.

Not only is removing pests great for improving biodiversity and looking after our region, it means the plants and trees in your garden are able to grow strong, without damage caused by animal and plant pests. This strengthening protects their ability to soak up CO2. Auckland Council has plenty of tips and resources for dealing with pests, or check out Predator Free NZ for advice on the best traps and where to buy them.

Where to find out more

Head to the Auckland Council Live Lightly website or Facebook for more information and advice on low carbon living.