How to grow vegetables from seeds in New Zealand

How to grow vegetables from seeds in New Zealand

Do you want to learn how to grow vegetables from seeds in New Zealand? Or already growing vegetables, but would like some hints and tips? This article will give you lots of advice to grow your own vegetables from seeds.

Spring is the perfect time to grow vegetables from seeds in New Zealand

The first of September is officially the start of Spring in New Zealand. This time of year is perfect for planning what vegetable and flower seeds you want to grow.

if you sow seeds in September, they will be ready for planting out around late October or early November. This is after the last winter frosts will affect your garden, so it’s perfect timing.

Learning to grow vegetables from seeds is a satisfying and budget friendly process. You can save a lot of money by growing vegetables from seeds, especially as the cost of food increases.

grow vegetables from seeds in New Zealand

Disclaimer: In this article, I mention various products and suppliers that I use. This isn’t a paid promotion or sponsored article.

I am not a trained horticulturalist. This information is from my own experiences with growing vegetables from seeds, and reading many books and articles about gardening.

What to plant? Grow vegetables you like to eat!

When I grow vegetables and flowers, I make a list of all the seeds I have
My list of seeds to plant this year

I’ve been growing vegetables and fruit in my garden for over 20 years now. The most important thing I’ve learnt about growing food is:

Grow what you like to eat!

In the past I have grown vegetables that we just don’t really eat much, such as Brussel Sprouts. I’ve heard they are great roasted or with cheese and bacon. But, I don’t usually buy Brussel Sprouts, so it isn’t worth my time growing vegetables that we aren’t likely to eat.

I now like to grow our favourite vegetables, the ones we eat all the time. In addition, I also grow vegetables from seeds that produce a lot of crop. This is so there is enough to eat some, and extras to preserve or freeze for use over winter.

My favourite summer vegetables, the ones that often grow well, and grow a lot of food are:

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

Also important to me – I want to grow vegetables that my children enjoy! My children prefer to eat raw vegetables rather than cooked vegetables. This is fine, because I know they will eat salad vegetables. Both kids particularly love tomatoes and cucumber, and my daughter loves to eat broccoli and peas straight from the plant!

Buying seeds or using saved seeds to grow vegetables

Grow vegetables from seeds in NZ - saved seeds and shop bought seeds
Seed collections

Every year, I sort through the box of seeds that I have saved from the previous year. There are usually some half used packets of seeds, as well as seeds I have saved from tomatoes, cucumbers and capsicums. I have found these grow well from saved seeds.

I also like to grow flowers to plant around the vegetables, as they attract helpful insects. This idea, of grouping together different plants to help each other out, is ‘Companion planting’.

I usually grow marigolds, zinnias and sunflowers, and also experiment with a few other flowering annuals (plants that only grow for a year, and then need to be replaced). Flowers also look beautiful in the vegetable patch, as well as being useful for attracting bees and butterflies to help pollinate the vegetable plants.

After checking which seeds I have in stock, I order some more seed packets online through Kings Seeds, as they are my favourite seed supplier. They also delivery really quickly after an order is placed.

I also sometimes buy seeds from DIY stores or Garden Centres such as Bunnings or Mitre 10.

Labeling the seed trays with the type of vegetable / flower

It’s important to label your seedlings, as can look similar at an early stage of growing, and it’s easy to forget what seeds you have sown. I also tend to grow a few varieties of each plant type. This year I planted six varieties of tomato seeds!

For plant labels, I use wooden ice lolly sticks to write the names of the plant on. I stick them on the ground when I transplant the seedling to the vegetable beds later on. Because they are small and made from wood, they usually rot away by the end of the growing season, but if they haven’t fully decomposed, you can pop them in a compost bin.

I usually write around 10 labels for each type of seed I am going to plant, and also have some spare lolly sticks and a pen ready for when I actually do the planting. This is in case I decide to plant a few more of the seeds – if they grow well, I can always give away or maybe sell the extra plants.

I grow more seedlings than I can fit in my vegetable patches, even though we add more patches each year. We have 16 vegetable beds, and I’m always thinking of where we could pop a few more into the garden.

How to grow vegetables from seed in a potting seed or greenhouse

How to grow vegetable seedlings in a potting shed or greenhouse

I plant most of my seeds in a potting shed – it has a big window at the front, but it isn’t as warm as a fully glassed greenhouse.

I would love a greenhouse or poly tunnel one day. That is a project for another day. Right now, I am lucky to have a potting shed to keep my seedlings protected from the cold overnight temperatures.

You can also sow seeds in a seed tray and keep them in the house. This works well for vegetables like capsicums and eggplants, as they need the soil to be warmer before they will start to grow.

How to sow the seeds to grow vegetables

As well as the new and saved seeds, I make sure I have enough Seed Raising mix to fill enough pots for all my seedlings. You can make seed raising mix, but I usually buy a bag from Bunnings or Mitre 10. This year I used about 15 Litres of Daltons Premium Seed Mix.

Over the years, I have ended up with a lot of seedling pots. More than enough for all the seeds I want to grow.

However, if you don’t have a stash of plant pots, you could ask around for some, or buy some from a DIY store / Garden centre.

Method for planting seeds:

  • Fill the plant pots almost to the top with the seed raising mix.
  • Pop a written label in each pot (or planting section if its a larger seed tray, like in the photo below).
  • Push your fingertip into the centre of each pot or section, just to about the depth of your nail, for the seed to go into.
  • Put a seed in each dip in the soil.
  • Cover with a little sprinkling of soil.
  • Water carefully, trying not to flood the little pots.

Taking care of seeds as they become seedlings

Seedlings need to be kept damp but not too wet, during the time that the seeds germinate and start to sprout up from the soil. Try not to let the soil dry out.

Water the seedlings every couple of days, with a little watering can. Take care not to wash away the top layer of the soil, where the seeds are.

It’s a good idea to keep a bucket of water in the potting shed, so that the water evaporates and keeps moisture in the air.

Over the next few weeks, the seeds will start to germinate, and seedlings will pop up. It can be as quick as a week or so for flowers like marigolds and sunflowers.

Seeds to seedlings - how to grow vegetables from seeds in New Zealand

More gardening resources

Check out these sites for more resources and information about gardening.

From my website:

New Zealand Websites:

Facebook Groups:

Help me encourage people to grow vegetables from seeds in New Zealand

I hope this information is useful for people who want to grow vegetables and flowers from seeds. Its very satisfying, and also very cost effective. It empowers people to have more control over their food supplies, rather than being reliant on big retailers. And reduces packaging waste, when you can pick something fresh from your garden, there is no need for packaging.

I’d love to encourage many more people to grow vegetables from seeds in New Zealand, so please share this post – thank you.

Please comment below with any hints of tips I have missed.

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