Never too late to start growing your own

With the cost of living crisis continuing to bite, National Gardening Week (October 16 to 23) is shining a light on the multiple benefits of homegrown vegetables, which are cheaper, fresher and often have a higher nutritional value.

Yates spokesperson Fiona Arthur says getting started on a vegie garden is as simple as popping some seeds in the ground.

“Growing your own vegies is a never-ending learning process and so much fun,” she says.
Yates is celebrating its 140 year anniversary, with a specially curated selection of popular, time-tested New Zealand heirloom vegetable and flower seeds.

“Handed down through the generations and trusted by Kiwi gardeners, the range includes old time favourites such as tomatoes, beetroot, radish, broccoli, lettuce and cabbage, as well as oregano and marigolds.”

Here are some gardening hacks for beginners:

  • Clear plastic sushi or salad clamshell containers make great mini greenhouses for getting seeds started. Just poke a few vent holes in the lid, fill the bottom half with seed raising mix and sow your seeds. Add a little water, close the lid and place the container in a sunny spot.
  • If you’re planting out seedlings in cooler temperatures, you can protect them from frost – and slugs or snails – by using 2L soft drink bottles. Take off the lid, cut off the bottom and push the bottle down over the seedling, into the soil. When the seedling, is ready to face the elements remove the bottle during the day and pop it back on overnight, until the seedling is mature enough to grow on its own.
  • If you’re short on space, you can start a bag garden. Black soft plastic polybags can be placed anywhere, are inexpensive and are an economical option to replace rigid and heavier pots when growing vegies and herbs. Use bigger-sized bags, as smaller bags dry out faster in hot weather.
    • Attract insect pollinators to your vegetable garden with colourful flowers. The more bees and butterflies you have visiting your vegies, the better your harvest will be.
  • If you have cats in your neighbourhood make sure there isn’t any exasperating litterbox action in your newly-sowed areas by ‘planting’ disposable wooden forks or chopsticks into the soil, to discourage digging … or just a bunch of pruning offcuts pushed into the soil.
  • Take advantage of sunny house or garage walls to grow tall tomatoes. Plant seeds in polybags and hang lengths of stretchy cotton plant ties from cup hooks under the eaves. You can spiral wrap it around the main stems to hang up the plant, then gradually train it to full height. Even a tomato plant heavily laden with fruit will hang quite comfortably from stretchy plant ties.
  • If you’re growing beetroot, there’s a good trick to maximise your results: soak the seeds in water overnight before you sow. When the seeds sink in the water, they’re ready. Each ‘seed’ is actually a cluster of 1-4 true seeds, protected by a corky outer coating. 
  • Double the life of your vegetables by sprouting them from scraps that may normally get thrown out, including lettuce, celery, bok choy, leeks, and onions. Simply place the cut base of the vegetable in an inch of water, place in good light and change the water every couple of days. Once roots have shown on the cuttings, the sprouted vegetables can be planted out in the garden, or transferred into pots, to grow on into new plants.
  • Grow your vegetables from seed instead of seedlings. The math is simple – you get dozens more plants from a packet of seeds, for a fraction of the cost.
  • Join a garden club or community garden and learn everything you need to know from the pros.

Seed giveaway

Mahurangi Matters in conjunction with Yates, has three Yates Heirloom Seed collections and three 140-year anniversary canvas tote bags to give away. Simply send an email to with Heirloom Seeds in the subject line to be in the draw to win. Competition closes at 10am
on October 3.