Over the next 12 months, I’m going to bring you a monthly garden task calendar.

There’s a lot of ways to build a gardening calendar. Last year I focused mostly on the veggie garden. This year, I’m adding pip fruit (apples, pears); stone fruit (peaches, plums, nectarines, cherry); and citrus (lemon, lime, oranges, mandarins).

I’m hoping that over time I’ll build up a great library of content. Hopefully, you’ll be able to come back to each year for help keep your patch growing.


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

What to plant

All the brassicas! No matter where you are, it’s time to fulfil your hearts desire for broccoli, cabbages, cauliflowers, brussels sprouts, kale, kohlrabi, and Chinese cabbages such as pak choi.

Brassica under insect netting.

These veggies all prefer the cooler autumn and winter temperatures. But the warmth we still have right now gets them off to a good start.

Make sure you protect them from white butterfly – the best way is to cover them in a bug net. The one shown above is from The Warehouse and placed over cloche hoops. They’ll also need some protection from slugs and snails, so some snail bait is also recommended.

You can squeeze in some leeks if you buy seedlings and do it ASAP – check out my planting guide.

Leeks grown in my previous garden in 2018

Planting Leeks

Quality leeks are easy – if you know a few tips before you start.

They’ll be a little later to develop, but should be harvestable by mid-winter through to the end of spring.

Winter lettuces like cos, oak-leaf, or buttercrunch can be sown and/or planted out. As can silverbeet, spinach, rocket, radish, and mesclun mixes.

If you live in Zone A, you can also get away with direct-sowing carrots, beetroot, and onions. They actually grow pretty great together.

As your summer beds die back, you might want to consider a round of green manure. This will create biomass for your composting efforts, hold back weeds, and improve soil structure.

The Kings Seeds autumn green manure mix is a good choice. The Kōanga Soil Builder mix also looks great.

Preparing to grow garlic

You can start planting garlic anytime from April to July. So now’s a good time to find your seed garlic.

When shopping in stores, try to find any variety that isn’t Printanor. Especially if you live in Zone A, or have struggled to grow garlic in the past. Printanor is our main commercial garlic crop so it’s what you usually find, but I’ve never had any luck getting it to grow. It can be hard to get your hands on other varieties, but they are out there.

As well as gardening stores, there are a few places that specialise in heritage garlic. As I write this, some is still available through Setha’s Seeds. Te Mata Garlic seem to be in-stock too. I haven’t seen any announcements from Blue Terrace Garlic yet, so it could be worth signing up for their mailing list.

Kōanga Institute offer their stock to members first, but that’s a great investment if you’re serious about your garden.

Use your best-draining bed for garlic. Good drainage is the #1 thing you can do to reduce the chances of rust.

Then, start preparing your soils. If you have at least 3 months before you’re planning to plant, think about getting a green-cover crop sown this month.

If you don’t have time for that, layer on the organic matter as soon as possible. Compost, seaweed, worm castings, grass clippings, aged wood mulch, manure – use what you have. Doing it now gives it time to break down and incorporate into your soils. Increase your calcium with a good sprinkle of lime too.

Remember, don’t use fresh wood mulch as it can leach nitrogen from the soil and stunt your plants. Leave it in a pile and use it next year.


Now we are entering autumn, it’s time to squirrel away what you’ve managed to grow for the winter months. Most summer crops are coming ready for harvest.

Harvest and cure your potatoes and kūmara as they die back – check out my guide to harvesting and storing potatoes.

Agria potatoes

Harvesting and storing potatoes

Keep yourself supplied with potatoes all winter long with these handy tips.

Your pumpkins can be picked and stored in a dark cool place once the stems dry off. Handle with care to avoid bruising. Wipe away any dirt and store on a wire shelf to provide a good air-flow.

You might be noticing your cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, beans, and zucchini are wrapping up for the season. That’s perfectly natural. These are annual plants that only grow over summer.

Sometimes tomato plants die off before the fruit has fully ripened. You can bring the tomatoes inside and allow them to ripen on a windowsill. Bonus points: it helps keep the bugs and birds away!

Tomatoes can also be stored in the freezer – they don’t strictly need any preparation. Freeze whole on a tray, and then transfer to a bag or container once frozen. Use in soups, stews, and sauces throughout the year.

Allow your last beans to fully dry on the plant. They can then be harvested and stored dry in a glass jar – either for use over winter, or as seeds next year.

Finally, a lot of seeds are ready to harvest at the moment. I’ve found myself harvesting cilantro, dill, leek, sunflower, and parsley seed this week. You can either sprinkle it around your garden to grow when and where it’s ready; or dry, process, and store it for next season. Check out my guide to saving seed.

Dill seeds in a seed tray with a heart drawn into them.

Seed saving

Reduce your gardening costs by growing and saving your seeds. 


Our apples are starting to be ready for harvest. Depending on where you are and what you grow, yours may mature any time over the next couple of months.

The surest sign to know they’re ripe is to cut one in half and see if the seeds are dark brown. If they are, they’re ready.

Two apples cut in half, showing different levels of ripeness in the seeds.

A couple of our windblown apples. On the left, this apple isn’t ready – the seeds are still white. On the right, they are almost there, but they’re not quite at dark brown. They are both juicy and made a great apple crumble regardless.

We’ve been enjoying some of the earlier wind-blown fruit in both my apple crumble and sponge-top pudding lately. There really is a warm fuzzy feeling that comes with a home-made dessert using home-grown ingredients.

If you have any diseased or windblown fruit under your fruit trees, you need to pick them up. Leaving them to decompose under your trees provides a place for pests and fungal spores to over-winter and come back with vengeance next year.

We feed all our apple waste, including rotting fruit, to our chickens. They take care of the pests and enjoy the treat!

If you have diseased fruit, it’s probably better to remove them from the property via green or organic waste streams. They’ll be commercially composted and the spores and pests won’t survive the heat.

Stone fruit

Stone fruit harvest should be starting to wrap up this month. Once your tree is clear of fruit (including the mouldy ones), it’s time to prune.

Unlike apples (which are best pruned in winter while they’re dormant), stone fruit should be pruned while the tree is still active enough to re-seal the cuts.

Pruning stone fruit after harvest helps prevent fungal infection, and so does pruning paste. You can buy this commercially, or you can make it at home – check out my pruning paste recipe.

A jar of pruning paste and a pair of secateurs.

How to make your own pruning paste

Keep your trees healthy while pruning with this simple recipe using common kitchen ingredients.

If you’re not sure what you’re doing, I’d highly recommend a copy of Kath Irvine’s Pruning Fruit Trees for your home library. Or you can sign up to my mailing list and download a free copy of my 20-page deep dive into pruning fruit trees.


I’m expecting our citrus to start ripening in about 6 weeks, so now’s a good time to give them a good final feed for the season.

You can either get in there with seaweed or fish fertiliser – or use a specially-blended citrus fertiliser. Be aware that granulated (dry) fertilisers are for plants that are planted into the soil. If your citrus are in pots, use a liquid fertiliser. Here’s a reel I made about that last year.

It’s also a good time to spray a horticultural oil like Yates Conquerer or Enspray99 to control scale and mealy bug. These pests drain the tree of its energy and cause mal-formed leaves and fruit.

A horticultural oil is just that – an oil. It’s not insecticidal in itself, instead it suffocates the tiny bugs doing damage to your trees.

Horticultural oils should not be sprayed on a sunny day. The oil combined with the sun’s heat can cause the leaves to burn. Choose an overcast day, or late evening before sunset. Again, I made a reel about this last year.

Definitely do not be pruning your citrus trees right now. In New Zealand, we have a native insect named the Lemon Tree Borer (Oemona hirta). It’s attracted to fresh cuts in citrus trees, where it can cause some serious damage.

If your branches get damaged over summer, it’s a good idea to cover the open wound with a pruning paste to prevent infection.

I’ll let you know later in the year when Lemon Tree Borer is dormant and it’s safe to prune your citrus.

Go forth, and garden

I don’t know about you, but I never manage to tick all these things off the list on time.

Still it’s about doing what you can, when you can. An hour spent planting and protecting your broccoli now will mean you’re eating the freshest food in a couple of months.

A bit of time tending to your peach tree this weekend will mean a bigger, juicier crop next year.

It’s worth finding a bit of spare time and getting outside while the sun is still warm and shining.