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A Beginner's Guide to Vegetable Gardening

Whether your dream vege patch is bursting with salad greens for summer barbeques, or carrots and leeks for hearty winter soups, nothing beats the satisfaction of ‘growing your own’.

This guide is designed to help beginner vege gardeners on their way to harvesting a bumper crop of homegrown vegetables in 3 simple steps: Prepare, Plant, Nourish.


Choose a spot that is sunny, sheltered from the wind and easy to access for harvesting and watering.

Space doesn't need to be a barrier to growing your own fresh homegrown food. You can easily grow your own with a container on the deck planted with salad greens and herbs - these types of plants can be packed in more closely too.

If you don’t have a garden bed already, get creative with what you already have available or buy/build some cost-effective planters. Options include:

  • Small concrete planters
  • Troughs
  • Flexi tubs
  • Half wine barrels
  • Terracotta pots and planters
  • Old watering cans, baths, wheelbarrows or washing machine drums
  • Wooden planters

Like building a house a good foundation is the key to success in your garden. Soil is the backbone to any good garden, the better the soil, the more successful your garden will be.

Starting with an existing garden

Starting with a new garden

Planting in pots and containers


For first time gardeners, it is generally easier to grow from seedlings, rather than seeds.

Across New Zealand there are differences in climate and soils, so some plants are planted at different times of the year depending on your region.

Our Planting Calendar has a handy list detailing what to plant each month, based on your region.

Easy 'beginner' crops

  • As a rule of thumb spinach, lettuce, radish, rocket, leeks, broccoli, bok choi, cabbage, cauliflower, silverbeet, celery, spring onions and parsley are all good ‘beginner’ crops.
  • When planting, allow at least two hand spaces apart for lettuce, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and silverbeet. 

The best times to plant are early in the morning or late in the day, so the plants aren’t exposed to the hot sun straight away, and be sure to always water plants well before and after planting.


Plants need nutrients and water to grow and thrive, just like us. If you don’t feed your plants you can’t expect to reap the rewards.

Check the fertiliser pack for frequency of application - feeding your vegetables regularly during the growing season will mean repeat growth and a continuous supply.

A well watered, well nourished vegetable garden will have a better chance of keeping insect pests and diseases at bay.

Tui Tips

  • Your veges are ready to harvest when they are about the size you see them in the supermarket.
  • The weather, weeds, pest insects and diseases can all impact on the success of your garden. Protect your plants from the colder weather with layers of mulch like Tui Mulch & Feed. Keep your garden weed free.
  • Leafy crops like spinach can be harvested a leaf at a time – so you can pick as you need.
  • Be vigilant and stop unwanted insects and diseases from ruining your plants. Apply Tui Quash slug & snail control every few weeks to protect your seedlings from slugs and snails munching on your seedlings.
  • For products with 100% BioGro certified organic inputs check out the Tui Performance Organics range.
When should I plant
  • Jan
  • Feb
  • Mar
  • Apr
  • May
  • Jun
  • Jul
  • Aug
  • Sep
  • Oct
  • Nov
  • Dec
  • Harvest in 60-120 Days

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A Beginner's Guide to Vegetable Gardening Comments

  • you have covered the basis ideas to stating with the garden based on vegetables and have covered the basic to sow and grow the seeds. One should also focus on adding the decorating items in the garden. These items may include fountains, stepping stones, fences etc. Thanks for the tips

    Katy Molnar

  • This Blog talks about gardening tips and what kind of vegetables to grow. Thank you for sharing the knowledge.


  • Awesome site and wonderful information thank you so very much. Keep safe and well

    Suzanne Shaw

  • Despite covering my brassica, silverbeet etc with insect netting, caterpillar are devouring my first crop. Reluctant to use sprays as I do want to eat the produce.... Have replanted a new crop of seedlings.🤞

    Lynnette Crooks

    • Hi Lynnette, white cabbage butterfly caterpillar numbers should start falling now as temperatures cool, it is a bit disheartening when seedlings get munched. Look out for slugs and snails as well, Tui Quash is safe to use around food crops as it is chelated iron which is toxic to slugs and snails and a source of iron for the garden when the pellet breaks down. Talk to your local garden centre as there are safe natural options to help control caterpillars in the vegetable garden. Also, try companion planting to deter white cabbage butterfly and other garden insect pests such as white fly. Nasturtium is a great sacrificial plant, eggs will be laid on the nasturtium which can easily be removed, or plant celery with your brassicas, white cabbage butterfly are deterred by the smell of celery.    


    • Thanks so much for the helpful information. I will plant celery this year as was also plagued with white butterfly last year!


  • Thank you so much as I am a beginner gardener your info is very inspiring. I started planting silverbeet; cabbages, etc cheers😊

    Suzanne Williams

    • Hi Suzanne, thank you for your feedback, it is so good that we have been able to give you some planting inspiration for your garden. Happy gardening!

      The Tui Team

  • A very good help to know when to plant veges & what fertiliser, thank you.

    Ione Lees

  • Hi, can I put Cocoa husks around my cabbage and cauliflower I live in Chistchurch, thank you.


    • Hi Ray, yes, cocoa husks can be used as a mulch around brassicas as well as other vegetable and garden plants. Cocoa husks help conserve soil moisture, as well as keep weeds down and will eventually break down into the soil, adding organic matter, make sure the cocoa husks are spread evenly over the soil surface. If you have a dog, especially one with a high food drive consider using an alternative mulch as cocoa husks contain compounds toxic to dogs and they are attracted to the smell of cocoa. The compounds may or may not be of a concentration high enough to affect the animal, take your dog to the vet immediately if you suspect it has eaten cocoa husks.


    • Thank you for that info.


  • Very good!


  • I enjoy reading the updates and guides to help me prepare our garden. Thank you for all the great tips.


  • Just planted my vegetable garden this morning, thanks for your simple advice.

    Tui provides very good simple information, thank you,

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