Growing Winter Greens

As the weather goes from cold to colder (or freezing in some areas), you may be feeling like spending less time in your garden and more time in front of your fireplace or under your heat pump.

Although winter may not be an ideal time for planting most vegetables, there are some hardy greens that can thrive in the cold and provide a bountiful harvest worth a little perseverance and cold weather exposure.

This guide will help you choose the right winter greens and provide essential tips for successful cultivation.


You need to make sure you select the right green variety so your plants can thrive in the unique winter climate, withstand frost and diseases, and make efficient use of resources like water and nutrients.

  • Spinach is a versatile leafy green that tolerates cooler temperatures well. Sow seeds directly in the ground or start them indoors and transplant later.
  • Silverbeet, also known as chard, is a hardy green that can withstand cold conditions. Plant seeds in well-drained soil and ensure regular watering.
  • Check your local Garden Suppliers for cold-tolerant lettuce varieties, such as ‘Winter Density’ or ‘Arctic King’.
  • Start broccoli seeds indoors and transplant the seedlings for a summer harvest. Look for fast-maturing varieties.
  • For a longer growing season, start cauliflower seeds in June, allowing ample time for a successful summer harvest.

Before planting, ensure the soil is well-drained and enriched with organic matter. Remove any weeds or debris from the planting area and consider adding compost or well-rotted manure to improve soil fertility.

Incorporate a balanced organic fertilizer to provide essential nutrients.


Sow the seeds at the recommended depth and spacing, usually indicated on the seed packet. Lightly cover the seeds with soil and gently press down to ensure good seed-to-soil contact.

If starting seeds indoors, use seed trays or pots with good drainage. Transplant seedlings into the garden once they are sturdy enough, make sure to check the recommended germination timeframe for each wintergreen.


Water the area thoroughly but avoid overwatering. Maintain moisture levels throughout the germination period.

As the plants grow, thin them to the recommended spacing to allow proper air circulation and avoid overcrowding.

Monitor for pests and diseases, and take appropriate action to control them.

Regularly pick the outer leaves of greens like spinach and silverbeet, allowing the inner leaves to continue growing.


Harvest winter greens as they reach maturity, typically when leaves are tender and full-sized. Broccoli and cauliflower can be harvested when the heads are firm and compact.

By selecting the right winter greens and providing the necessary care, you can enjoy a plentiful harvest even during New Zealand’s cooler months. Remember to adjust planting and harvesting times based on your specific region. Embrace the joys of growing winter greens, adding fresh and nutritious produce to your table throughout the year.

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