Top 10 good reasons to grow vegetables in your garden

Top 10 good reasons to grow vegetables in your garden

Do you like to grow vegetables in your garden? Now is the time of year in New Zealand to plan your vegetable garden planting, for summer and autumn harvests. Here are my top ten reasons to grow vegetables in your garden this year.

(First published 19 August 2019, updated for 29 July 2022)

10 reasons to grow vegetables in your garden

These are my top ten reasons to grow vegetables at home:

Money saving

It is cheaper to grow some vegetables at home than buying in the shops or markets. Home gardeners can often grow large crops of tomatoes, courgettes / zucchini, and capsicums. Even though they are cheap in the shops at the height of the growing season, the cost of the seeds or seedlings is much less than the cost of buying the equivalent amount of those veges.

Freshness and quality

There is nothing like that freshly picked taste – a tomato picked straight from the plant, that is still warm from the sun is just delicious! There is no delay between picking and transporting to you (as there is with shop bought veges), so you know that the vegetables are at their best when you pick them and eat them daily.

Reduced environmental effects

There is much less impact from packaging waste and transporting costs when you grow your own vegetables. Plus, you can choose to grow organically, with no herbicides or pesticides.

Excess produce to last for months

When you grow vegetables at home, you usually have a glut or excess of them. The extra veges can be made into preserves like chutney or tomato sauce, or you can bottle the excess. Or you can bake recipes like zucchini flans or zucchini chocolate cakes, to go into the freezer for later. Vegetables, either whole or chopped, freeze well, especially chilli peppers, tomatoes, courgettes and capsicum, and can then be used throughout the year. I usually end up with enough vegetables in the freezer to last me until the next harvest.

Selling or giving away excess vegetables

Another benefit of growing your own vegetables is that you can make a bit of money by selling the excess. We used to put bags of fruit at the gate, with a honesty box for people to put money into. However, it has become much easier to list fruit or vegetables online in local Facebook groups, and arrange for people to come pick it up from you. Plus they can pay online, as people don’t always have any cash on them now. Its also rewarding to give away excess produce, so other people can enjoy it too – you can put it in community pantries such as Pātaka Kai Open Street Pantry or sharing sheds at community gardens.

Being outdoors

This is a huge benefit of gardening. There are so many positives to being outside in the garden, including:

  • getting fresh air and sunlight or rain,
  • connecting with the natural world instead of sitting at a screen,
  • getting your hands dirty,
  • getting some enjoyable movement,
  • the satisfaction that comes from knowing you have done some hard work that day.

The enjoyment of the process

Growing vegetables can be a very satisfying process, one where you are somewhat in control of things. Of course, there are always things outside of your control that could affect your vegetables, like bugs, wild weather, rabbits or other animals getting into your vege patch. In general though, seeing the process of nature in action is amazing, from planting the small seed or seedling, through to harvesting a variety of tasty vegetables.

Creating a beautiful environment

Lush and productive vegetable gardens look beautiful as well as being useful. You can try experimenting with growing flowering plants in with your vegetables. This is partly to encourage bees and other insects, but also makes gardens look gorgeous. My personal vegetable garden style is messy but a colourful and varied mix of plants.

Gardening is great for children

Growing vegetables is a lovely way to get the kids outside and learning about nature, and to encourage them to try different foods. Some children preferred vegetables raw, and love to eat them as they pick them. Tomatoes, peas, and small cucumbers are particularly good for children to eat straight from the vegetable garden,

Growing vegetables can be a way to carry on a family or cultural tradition

Gardening can be a way to carry on a tradition, or to honour and remember your parents, grandparents or other ancestors. It can bring back memories of time spent in the garden with relatives, or trips to historical or cultural gardens. It’s interesting to think about the skills and knowledge passed on to us by earlier generations. And to reflect on how much people relied on being able to grow their own food, before the advent of the mass produced, factory made food that fills supermarkets now.

Grow vegetables in your garden in raised wooden beds

A brief ‘How to grow vegetables in your garden’ Guide for New Zealanders

If you want to grow from seed:

  • Sow seeds in September, and they will be ready for planting out around late October or early November.
  • This is after the last winter frosts will affect your garden.
  • You can save a lot of money by growing vegetables from seeds, although it does require more time and equipment

If you grow seedlings that you have bought:

  • Transplant these into the vegetable beds in late October or early November, same as for seedlings grown from seeds.

Related article:

Transplanting seedlings into your garden

If you have seedlings that you have grown from seed or bought, the next stage is to plant them out in your garden.

Here is what to do:

  • Seedlings grown in a greenhouse or shed or even bought from a garden centre may need to acclimatize to being outside. Plant them on a day with pleasant weather – no rainstorms or frost forecast.
  • Soak the seedlings with water before you take them out of their pots.
  • Dig a small hole for each seedling – the hole needs to be at a depth so that the soil around the seedling soil is at the same level as the vegetable bed soil.
  • Take the seedlings carefully out of the pot, and place them in their individual holes.
  • Back fill with soil or compost. Gently press down the soil, so it is in contact with the seedling roots.
  • Water the seedlings carefully after planting.
  • Mulch around the seedlings with bark or compost.

Related article:

What vegetables should I grow?

The most important thing I’ve learnt about growing vegetables in my garden is:

Grow what you like to eat!

What vegetables do you regularly eat? What are the most common vegetables you buy at the supermarket or vegetable shop? Do you buy frozen or tinned veggies?

Experiment with growing those types of veggies in your garden at home.

Vegetables that usually grow reliably in New Zealand in summer include:

  • Tomatoes
  • Courgettes / zucchini
  • Cucumbers
  • Peas
  • Capsicums / bell peppers

Related article: 6 easy vegetables to grow for beginner gardeners

Grow vegetables in your garden post - photo of flowers and vegetables grown together
Growing vegetables and flowers together usually improves the amount you can harvest

Related article: Useful flowers and veges to grow in spring

Grow vegetables in your garden using a greenhouse

A greenhouse is next on my garden wish list, check out the link below for reasons why a greenhouse is useful to gardeners:

Comments about your plans to grow vegetables in your garden

What vegetables do you like to grow in your garden? What is the most successful crop in your area? I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas on how you grow vegetables in your garden.

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