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Top 5 Beginner Crops

If you're just starting out in the garden you may be wondering what veges to plant first. We've put together our top five beginner crops that can be planted now.

We also share tips for vege success, so you can gain confidence growing and then add more to your patch!

When planting, allow at least two hand spaces apart in the garden. 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.

Crops to start with

1. Rocket - a very quick-growing crop that is commonly used as a salad ingredient or blended into egg and cheese dishes. Rocket has a distinctive sharp, peppery flavour and is ready in a matter of weeks from planting. Ideal in pots and containers, it is also very easy to grow, making it ideal for beginner gardeners. Varieties include Annual Rocket and Perennial Rocket.

2. Lettuce - a quintessential salad crop, lettuces come in a wide range of colours, shapes and sizes so sometimes the most challenging part is deciding which ones to plant! There are two main types of lettuce: hearting lettuces which have a dense centre, and loose-leaf lettuces which have open leaves and no heart. Red, pink and even black-leaved varieties will create interest in your garden, and these types seem to perform best in the cooler months. Plant 20cm apart in the garden, or pack them a bit closer together in pots and pick leaf by leaf. Harvest 6-10 weeks.

3. Silverbeet - packed with both iron and flavour, silverbeet is a popular crop as it can be harvested perpetually – you can pick a few leaves at a time and it will regrow more from the base of the plant, extending the harvest and season. Silverbeet is quick-growing and hardy, it thrives in both warm and cooler climates. There are white, yellow, orange, pink and red stemmed varieties available - yellow being the sweetest.

4. Spinach - a powerhouse of a vegetable packed with nutrients and vitamins. Spinach is a fast growing but short lived crop that is very easy to grow, and is happy in the garden or in a container. When harvested frequently, spinach can continue cropping for a period of month. Tastes good raw, cooked or added to savoury dishes to muffins to quiches, salads, curries and stir-fries.

5. Radish - crunchy colourful and ready to harvest a month or so after sowing, this easy to grow crop flourishes with only the simplest of care. Radishes come in a range of colours, shapes, sizes and flavours and they are increasingly being used in cooking and preserving.

If you're keen to try growing herbs for an extra flavour punch to your meal, start with thyme, oregano and parsley.

Planting tips

  • Dig in Tui Sheep Pellets and add a layer of Tui Vegetable Mix before planting. It contains the right blend of nutrients to provide your veges with the best possible start and sustained growth throughout the season.
  • If planting in pots and containers, fill with Tui Vegetable Mix before planting.
  • Apply Tui Organic Seaweed Plant Tonic at least once a month to promote healthy plant and root growth to make plants more resilient to common problems including: frost, heat, pests and diseases.
When should I plant
  • Jan
  • Feb
  • Mar
  • Apr
  • May
  • Jun
  • Jul
  • Aug
  • Sep
  • Oct
  • Nov
  • Dec
  • Harvest in 40-60 days

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Top 5 Beginner Crops Comments

  • How do I stop white butter fly grubs from eating all my greens.have tried derris dust?


  • Hi Janis, white cabbage butterfly caterpillars are a nuisance and common in autumn, however they will start to disappear soon as the weather cools. Use a layer of fine netting to stop white cabbage butterfly laying their eggs on your plants. If infestations are small, try removing caterpillars individually and squashing. For larger infestations check at your local garden centre for a spray. ^Tui Team


  • Plant garlic to ward off white butterflies, or spray the soil with garlic spray.

    Marie Millar

  • Great tip, thanks Marie! ^Tui Team


  • Thank you for the kumara planting guide.. Have always wanted to try planting kumara. Got put off as was told they have to have masses of room.


  • Hi, my 1-year-old orange and dwarf mandarin tree's leaves are turning yellow, and some are curling, especially on my mandarin tree. What do I do please?

    Wendy McDonald

    • Hi Wendy, there could be several reasons for your citrus yellowing and leaves curling. The yellowing is likely a sign that the tree needs feeding, especially if you are in a region that has had excessive rain, fertiliser will have leached out of the soil. If your tree is in the garden, feed with Tui Citrus food in early spring and again every 6-8 weeks during the growing season. If they are in a pot feed with Tui Novatec slow release fertiliser every 12 weeks in the growing season or Tui Enrich Citrus, Fruit, Tree & Shrub controlled release fertiliser in early spring and again in autumn. An application of Epsom salts could be beneficial to help with the yellowing leaves, yellowing leaves is common with the change of season from winter to spring. The curling leaves may be due to temperature changes, too hot, or too cold, so some protection around the tree in winter will be helpful, once established citrus are frost hardy. Mulching in early spring and again in late autumn helps protect the trees roots and they can handle temperature extremes better. The reason for curling leaves could be due to sucking insects such as scale insect, white fly or aphids. Have a look to see if you can see any evidence of insects such as ants crawling over the trees looking for the honey dew that is excreted by sucking insects or the tree may have a black sooty mould on the leaves, this lives off the honey dew. Spray with a suitable pyrethrum based insecticide or horticultural spraying oil, your local garden centre will be able to recommend a suitable spray. It may be beneficial to the trees to have regular applications of Tui Seaweed Plant Tonic, especially as the trees are still young. This will help stimulate root growth and improve overall plant growth. Mix 70ml per 9L watering can and apply every 2 weeks, start doing this in spring. The addition of sheep pellets around the trees may also be helpful as this will help to improve the soil.


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