Another month and we’re well into autumn now. Daylight Saving is done for another summer. For me, autumn is a much more exciting time of year than spring, but that’s probably got to do with our warmer climate here in the Far North. We don’t really get ‘winter’ here. It’s closer to a wet, coldish season.

Which is great for many of my favourite plants! Even though I’m not growing it this year, garlic season is coming up. I published some tips for sourcing and preparing for that last month. It’s time to think about early potatoes and strawberries too.

Have you managed to get your brassicas planted yet? They really benefit from having at least some growth in the warmer temperatures which are quickly running out, so make them a priority if they’re not already planted.

Remember to protect them from slugs, snails, and caterpillars. White butterfly will be hanging around until you’ve had your first frost. The broccoli and cauliflower I planted last month are doing pretty great under their insect net!


Some districts can get away with things others can’t at different times of the year.

Living in the Far North, I have a very long growing season and can still grow some things my friends further south don’t have time for.

So where necessary, I’ll be referring to the zones shown on this map if the advice only applies to some areas.

Climate zone map of New Zealand
a strawberry plant with the crown labelled


It’s time to start thinking about strawberries! You have about 4 months to sort them out, but you can start now. The earlier they go in, the more established they’ll be come spring – meaning better, earlier strawberries for you.

Load your soil up with aged manure and/or compost, and space them about 20cm apart. Make sure the ‘crown’ of the plant is lifted above the soil.

If your existing strawberry plants are over 4 years old, you might want to think about refreshing them this year.

You can do this with the runners they’ve probably been sending out – rip out the older plants and replace with the smaller, fresher ones for larger harvests.

Strawberry runners overflowing from the strawberry bed

If you don’t have strawberry plants, make sure you’re on my mailing list.

Ours have really gone for it with runners this year, and most years I offer them for sale – they should go up over the next couple of months.

More info on planting strawberries can be found in my stawberry planting guide.

large homegrown strawberries in a hand

Growing Strawberries

Practically everyone loves strawberries! Learn the important things to know when growing your own.

Broad beans

Broad beans are also ready to go in this month (unless you live in a cold zone – Zone C – in which case hold off til May).

Legumes (peas, beans, peanuts) like to grow directly from seed and don’t enjoy transplanting, so skip the seedlings and buy a packet of seed. It’s way more economical and a pack can last a few seasons if you store it in a cool dark place.

Prepare your soil with lime and compost – particularly if it hasn’t had any in the last 12 months. Soak your seeds in water (perhaps with a dash of a seaweed or fish fertiliser if you have it) for 4-12 hours before planting to encourage germination.

Direct sow into your garden bed in blocks at 2cm depth, and 10-15cm spacing.

Other things to plant and do

Spinach, winter lettuces, cilantro, and all the brassicas (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, kale, pak choi and other Chinese cabbages) can be planted this month too.

Best to go with seedlings at this stage.

If you have planted leeks, then once they hit pencil thickness it’s time to begin mounding them up for nice long shanks.

Leeks with a toilet paper roll collar

You can fit an old toilet roll as a collar around them if you’d prefer to keep the dirt out from between the leaves.

Find your early seed potatoes

It’s time to start keeping your eyes out for seed potatoes, especially if you live in one of the warmer northern regions (Zone A on the map). In particular, you’re looking for your Early varieties – Jersey Bennes, Swift, Rocket etc.

These grow fast and aren’t the best ‘keepers’, but they will provide you with new-season potatoes in early spring. Last year we got a bumper crop from ‘Rocket’, so I think I’ll be looking for them again.

Buying them now means they have plenty of time to chit. Once you get them home, pop them into some old egg cartons and place them somewhere warmish, out of direct sunlight.

2021 agria potatoes set out for chitting

They will begin to form sprouts, which is what you want when you go to plant them later on.

Learn more about growing potatoes with my potato growing guide.

Harvesting potatoes

Planting potatoes

Potatoes can be planted as soon as June, depending on where you are. Find out what to do now to great crop next season!

Stone fruit

If you’ve struggled with fungal issues this year, then I recommend you get out there, rake up all your leaves, and take them to a green waste facility.

Keeping those leaves around keeps the fungal spores around. So get them away from your garden. Same goes for any mouldy fruit that fell, or is stuck to the branches.

"Mummified" peaches on a branch.

These mouldy fruit are known as “Mummies” – they’re a sure sign of fungal infection in your fruit trees and should be removed from the tree as they provide a place for fungal spores to hide.

Once all the leaves have fallen, it’s a good idea to spray a copper spray to “clean up” any remaining fungal spores.

This is really your last chance to prune your stone fruit, but if you live in Zone C you’ve probably missed the window and should wait until spring.

Remember pruning should be done on a dry day, and your tools should be sanitised between trees to prevent disease spread.

Pip fruit

Apples and pears should be ripening about now. Which is great – it’s the fun bit!

My father swung by a couple of weeks ago to pick his own birthday harvest of his favourite heritage apple (Cox’s Orange Pippin). And Richard and I have enjoyed just grabbing a few apples off the trees for regular apple crumbles over the last month.

Apple crumble, fresh from the oven.

Apple crumble

My favourite way to use our apple harvest.

But we needed to pick the whole tree last week when we noticed signs of possums getting into the crop. Any non-perfect apples got cooked down into apple pulp and frozen in 1 cup servings. The remaining good ones went into the fridge.

Kath Irvine has a great guide on storing apples over at Edible Backyard.

While you’re harvesting your apples, look at your trees and think about how you might prune them this winter.

A couple of weeks ago I was looking at one of my apple trees and noticed one branch that just really obviously needed to be removed. It has a very narrow crotch and the branch sticks straight up in the air.

An apple tree with a ribbon tied around a branch - a reminder to myself to prune it.

I had to laugh when I followed it to the trunk though. It had a red ribbon tied around it. That’s my note to myself that the branch needs to go. I left it there last winter as I’d already removed enough of the tree.

So take a roll of string (or ribbon) and instead of making your cuts – plan them. Give yourself some time to think. For more pruning tips, grab my free 20-page guide to pruning by signing up to the mailing list.

If the leaves are beginning to fall on your trees, then again it’s time to rake them up and send them off to green waste if you’re facing fungal issues.

Once the leaves are gone, go spray with copper to clean them up to give your trees the best chance next season.


One thing I almost-never need to think about is frost. But if you live in Zone C (or Zone B), then the colder months might not be too far away. Citrus fruit aren’t too fond of a frost and will need protection.

You can protect your trees in a range of ways. If they’re in pots, you can bring them into a glasshouse, or elsewhere inside.

If they’re planted in the ground, you might need to set up a frost-cloth frame, or use a frost-guard spray. My internet friend Julie-Ann has written an interesting piece looking at what she’s doing in Ōtepoti (Dunedin).

For those of us in Zone A, it’s still a good time to apply Conqueror or another horticultural spraying oil if you’re having pest problems. My lemon has had a long-standing scale infection that I’m still working on with sprays every couple of weeks.

Remember to spray on an overcast day, or in the evening to avoid burning your leaves.


As I mentioned last month – I very rarely get around to doing everything on these lists myself.

But it really does only take a little bit of effort to pay off long term. If your stone fruit were disappointing this year, then a couple of hour’s work pruning and spraying now could mean this time next year looks very different for you.

Likewise, grabbing that bag of seed potatoes or tray of cauliflower seedlings this weekend could mean bumper harvests in a few shorth months.

 So get out there and do what you can – anything is better than nothing, eh?