The Gardener's Journal is a free monthly gardening guide delivered direct to your inbox.

Each month, receive tips on the top jobs needed in your garden as well as a wealth of information on a range of gardening topics. From sowing seeds to picking fruit, each month get access to information on the care and maintenance of your flowerbeds, vegetable plot and lawn. As with your own gardening diary, the journal is split into separate sections, each covering a different area of garden care.

Monday, 2 December 2013

This Month in your Garden – December

December in the garden can be taken at a more leisurely pace than autumn although, depending on the size of your plot, there is usually plenty to keep you occupied.

Garden structures such as trellis and fences need checking for damage and repair.

Greenhouses need cleaning. Finish turning soil and moving shrubs and plants if it’s still mild. If you want to grow pelargoniums from seed it’s best to start now. You will need a propagator to give them a minimum temperature of 18°C/65°F to start them germinating.

Top Tip for December

If you have a greenhouse you’ll want to let plenty of winter light in so cleaning the glass with warm water and a little washing-up liquid will clear grime and any green slime. Clean the rest including all metal and woodwork by adding disinfectant such as Jeye’s Fluid to the water.

Change the soil in a greenhouse border annually if possible and replace with good loam or the best garden soil. Check all electrical apparatus in the heated greenhouse. Use bubble wrap to line the interior and conserve heat.  

The Lawn Care Guide – December

Although unlikely, you could find yourself mowing the lawn in December if your garden location and
the weather are very mild. It is certainly nice to see a neatly cut lawn through to spring but don’t cut too short.

A new lawn sown from seed in autumn may also benefit from a light trim. More probably you will find earthworms producing casts on the grass. While they are not doing any harm to the grass they are not only unsightly, they are in danger of promoting moss and weed growth and are best swept away with a lawn brush or birch brush.

The Vegetable Plot – December

How have you fared with the crops in season this month? Jerusalem artichokes, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, celeriac, celery, endive, kale, leeks, parsnips, savoy cabbage can all be on the menu.

No one expects you to grow everything but if you are keeping your own gardener’s journal it’s good to make notes of what you would like to harvest around Christmas next year.

The Big Glut Recipe – December

Marinated venison stew

It’s the time of hearty soups and festive foods and in some ways it’s surprising how much variety there is in the foods that are in season, from fruit and vegetables to fish and game. The latter has a strong appeal as a late autumn into December dish that makes a robust supper for four. The venison soaks in the marinade for 12 hours.


  • 1kg/2lb lean venison cut into 5cm/2in cubes
  • 50g/2oz butter
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 1 tbsp rosemary, freshly chopped
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and quartered
  • 1 small turnip, peeled and chopped
  • 3 medium potatoes, peeled and halved
  • 400g/14oz can tomatoes
  • 3 tbsp tomato puree

Friday, 1 November 2013

This Month in your Garden – November

The clocks change, it’s dark earlier and there’s still plenty to do in the garden before the really bad weather sets in. Early November is the time to plant tulip bulbs, to help prevent ‘tulip fire’, the fungal disease they are prone to. They’ll like the sunniest spot, heavy soil lightened with coarse grit and will look good planted in a border with wallflowers, pansies and forget-me-nots. They can be lifted after flowering, stored and planted again next autumn.

Bring fuchsias, argyranthemums and pelargoniums into the greenhouse or conservatory before the frosts. If there’s more digging to do, now is the time to finish it off, working in manure or rotted garden compost. Leaving the soil roughly turned, without breaking it up too much, exposes it to the beneficial action of wind and frost.

How to prune - November

Pruning almost all bush and standard roses can be started once all the leaves have fallen. Remove dead or diseased branches, retaining and shortening the promising stems of new growth. This concentrates the rising sap into the best growth buds. Generously feed the roses. Hard prune fruit trees and bushes, removing larger branches to open up the centres.

The Lawn Care Guide – November

Well, it’s probably the last mowing about now and time to put the mower or garden tractor away for the winter, but hold on a minute. It’s also a good time to get the servicing done and in the case of the garden tractor you could be using it through the winter with a snow plough and salt spreading attachment.

What about the lawn though? If it’s not too wet or hard it will still benefit from slitting to aid drainage. Even if you have stuck to a programme of good lawn care throughout the year it can still be said that fine turf is grown under conditions that are not entirely natural.

The Vegetable Plot – November

Where you have crops growing there will also be weeds! A session with the hoe will deal with them.

What about planting fruit trees and bushes for show as well as for fruit? If you have room in addition to bush apples, pears, plums and cherries, what about some standards of these, and try espalier trained apples and pears as well as fan-trained plums, cherries, peaches, nectarines and apricots.

If you have grown leeks and they have benefitted from a good frost, lift some and keep them in a bucket of compost in a shed or cold greenhouse until you need them, they will last for months. You can grow longpod variety broad beans from seed in a sheltered position if you don’t have a warm greenhouse in which to germinate them in February.

The Big Glut Recipe – November

Butternut squash and leek soup

What’s in season this month? You have lots of choice. Apples, beetroot, butternut squash, cabbage, celeriac, celery... what about those leeks you set aside?....chestnuts, chicory, clams, cranberries….


  • 175g/6oz butternut squash after peeling
  • 450g/1lb leeks cut into 2.5cm/1” slices after trimming
  • 1 large onion peeled and cut into 2.5cm/1” slices
  • Large knob of butter
  • 275ml/10fl oz milk
  • 850ml/1½ pints good vegetable stock
  • A handful snipped chives
  • Parmesan cheese (optional)
  • Freshly milled salt and black pepper

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

This Month in your Garden – October

Planting up containers and pots for the winter calls for a little forethought and preparation. Firstly you need frost-proof clay, wood or stone containers. No good having a pot crack because it freezes so make sure they have good drainage.

Put some pieces of broken clay pot in the bottom before adding the compost and stand the containers on bricks, clay feet or bits of tile to let them drain freely. Using a free-draining mixture such as John Innes No.1 or No.2 compost will be beneficial, adding some fertilizer/blood fish and bone meal when you plant them up.

The Lawn Care Guide – October

Depending on the weather it’s likely the leaves will be abundantly falling by the end of the month. Time to pop the collector on the garden tractor and sweep them off the lawn. Or you can use a powered blower/vac to pick them up, a blower to pile them up into a heap or simply gather them into small heaps with a spring tined rake. Either way you want them off the lawn and flower beds where they will be covering winter plants.

Lawn Care Questions & Answers – October

Q. My lawn is regularly covered over large areas with fungal toadstools. Is there any way to treat these areas to prevent them re-growing please?
Ian M Hall, Weatherby

The Vegetable Plot – October

Use a hoe to keep the ground free from weeds. Once you have harvested vegetables, turn the soil to leave it for the winter weather to do its work.

Hard frosts break down the soil ready for next year’s planting. Some vegetable such as parsnips, salsify and celeriac can be left in the ground, but lifting some to store if there is heavy frost threatening is a good idea. Lift carrots, beetroot and turnips before Jack Frost can do his damage.

Fork up potatoes and let them dry before storing. Protect cauliflowers and continue to blanch endives.

The Big Glut Recipe – October

Halloween sausage and pumpkin roast

Great for All Hallows evening for four people or increase the quantities if there are more of you. A winter warmer that’s just as good for bonfire night. Made with coarse Italian pork sausages or any spicy sausage you prefer and served with tomato salsa

2 red onions
8 Italian/or other pork sausages
1kg/2lb 4oz pumpkin or butternut squash, skin cleaned
2 red onions
2 tbsp olive oil
Sea salt & pepper
Few sprigs rosemary
Few sprigs thyme

For the salsa:
500gm/1lb 2oz chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves
A pinch of dried chili flakes
½ tsp sea salt
½ tsp sugar
Few torn basil leaves

Thursday, 12 September 2013

This Month in your Garden – September

Your new lawn is ready to be sown if you did the preparation last month. Time to exercise those muscles with some digging, rotovating and working manure into the borders. There are spring bulbs to be planted and seeds to be collected.

Many seeds will keep happily in brown envelopes somewhere dry and cool, for sowing next year. Time to tidy up and hoe out weeds, stake dahlias and take cuttings. There are plenty of tender perennials that, having been grown as summer annuals, all too often get dug up and consigned to the compost heap. Marguerites, osteospermums, fuchsias, pelargoniums to name a few can provide cuttings which can be potted, put into a cold frame to harden off and then brought indoors before the first frosts. Kept inside through the winter you can have young plants next spring to plant out in May to June.

Top Tip for September

Store dahlias over winter by lifting them when the first frost blackens their foliage. Trim the old stems
off the tubers then let them stand upside down for a week to drain off. Pack them into wooden or cardboard boxes and store in a cold greenhouse or indoors.

The Lawn Care Guide – September

September into October is a good time to scarify the lawn and lift the dead grass, moss and rubbish that causes thatch to accumulate. If the ground is too wet, wait for a drier spell. If it’s very dry wait until there has been some rain, let it dry out a little and the start. It may be that holding on until October is better depending on your location. The other time of the year to scarify is around March.

The Vegetable Plot – September

You can move spring cabbage sown in Mid-July to the plot where they will mature, ideally where you have just lifted onions or potatoes. Plan your next crop of onions by planting autumn onion sets between now and early November. They will benefit from application of fertilizer, about half you would use in summer. There is still time to plant rooted strawberry runners where they are to fruit.

The Big Glut Recipe – September

Scallops with vermouth sauce

A simple to make dish for four people, using garden vegetables and herbs, there are all sorts of variations on this theme using just the shallots, vermouth and cream to this rather grander version.


  • 500g/1lb Jerusalem Artichokes, peeled
  • 16 scallops, halved
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Salt & black pepper
  • 50g/2oz butter
  • 4 shallots, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 125g/4oz mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 tbsp tarragon, freshly chopped
  • 1 tbsp parsley, freshly chopped
  • 75ml/3 fl oz dry vermouth
  • 250ml/8fl oz single cream
  • A side salad if you wish, some crusty bread, and keep a box of long cook’s matches to hand

Friday, 2 August 2013

This Month in your Garden – August

‘If the twenty-fourth of August be fair and clear, then hope for a prosperous autumn that year.’

It’s seedling recognition time. If you have grown cottage garden plants you’ll get to know the seedlings as they appear, aquilegias, foxgloves, red valerian (Centranthus), pot marigolds (Calendula), opium poppies and many others self seed around the garden and are worth leaving where they are or moving for next year’s display.

You can also collect ripe seeds from flowering plants and take cuttings of tender perennials such as fuchsias, verbenas and salvias, and silver-leaved plants.

Hardy plants and bedding plants can be ‘struck’ in sandy soil, using hormone rooting powder if you wish. Take rose cuttings such as Bourbon China. Now don’t let it all be work, enjoy the garden you’ve created or developed even though there is plenty to be done.

How to prune – August

Summer prune rambler roses, such as Albertine, that have grown for a few years. Start pruning in the third year, pruning sideshoots that have flowered back to within a couple of inches of the stem. Tie in new shoots.

The Lawn Care Guide – August

Following the lawn tips for July is probably all you need to do now if the growth of the lawn has slowed. But if you have planned a new lawn and haven’t started you need to do so now because the preparation needs to be done a month before you sow or turf.

Making a lawn from seed is less expensive than turf and you can store the seed in readiness for the right sowing conditions. Order in plenty of coarse grit, you’ll need about a barrow-load per square metre. It will improve drainage. Dig the area one spade deep or use a rotovator or rotovating attachment on your brush cutter and remove all the perennial weeds and all their roots.

If you have a heavy infestation you may need to spray with a glyphosphate herbicide before you prepare the area. But don’t use a residual weed killer as it will prevent the grass from germinating. Once clear of weeds you can dig in the coarse grit and as much well-rotted manure as you can. Now leave it all alone for a few weeks to settle. Four to five weeks is a good period.

The Vegetable Plot – August

It’s time to clear out spent cucumbers, especially if you have some growing in frames, You can sow winter spinach in a sheltered place. Prune summer-fruiting raspberries, cutting the canes that have fruited down to ground level. Train young canes in their place.

Earth up maincrop celery and lift spring-sown onions. You can sow onion seeds now in a fairly sheltered space. Logan berries and tayberries can be tip-layered, that is, bury the tip of a shoot about 15cm under the soil, earth up around it and you should have it rooting by spring.

The Big Glut Recipe – August

Cool summer Gazpacho

No cooking, lots of fresh vegetables, a bit of preparation time and this Gazpacho soup serves four on a sultry summer’s day.


  • 3 slices brown bread, cut into 2.5cm/1in cubes
  • 300ml/10fl oz tomato juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • ½ cucumber, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 green pepper finely chopped - pith and seed removed
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 750g/1½ lb tomatoes, peeled, seeded and finely chopped
  • 75ml/3 fl oz olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 1 tsp marjoram, freshly chopped
  • 1 tsp basil, freshly chopped
  • Ice cubes

Monday, 1 July 2013

This Month in your Garden – July

Looking back, spring was pretty intensive with all that had to be done in the garden. Now you can slow down – a bit – and enjoy the profusion of flowers, colours and scents. The proud gardener will be sharing this with friends and family. To keep the display at its best, deadheading, watering and staking are necessary tasks to keep borders looking good.

 “There is nothing more difficult to do in outdoor gardening than to plant a mixed border well, and to keep it in beauty throughout the summer.” Wrote Gertrude Jekyll. Pruning shrubs after flowering, weeding, staking late flowering plants that need support, spraying plants prone to infestation, and removing faded flowers, unless the seed is needed, all contribute to maintaining the display.

The Lawn Care Guide – July

It’s likely if it is hot and there is a drought that a fine lawn will suffer stress and quickly turn brown. While your neighbour’s, which comprises tough old grass and clover is surprisingly green.

They say the grass is always greener...but don’t worry, raise the cutting height of the mower, mow less frequently, remove the grass box or collector from the garden tractor, leave the clippings on the lawn...well we went over that last month so we won’t repeat any more.

Lawn Care Questions & Answers – July

Q. How can I tell if I am watering the lawn enough? We’re in a drought area and I don’t want to use too much water but we use the lawn for croquet and don’t want it all brown and rough.

The Vegetable Plot – July

Keep harvesting the glut of vegetables, the more you pick runner beans and courgettes the more they produce. Keep an eye on tomatoes, stop outdoor tomatoes after three trusses.

Shade tomatoes in the greenhouse, if the sun is very strong and water amply and regularly. Feed and train cucumbers.

Leave shallots to ripen in the sun, drawing soil back to expose them, then lift carefully when the leaves turn yellow. You can harvest garlic for storing as well.

Carrots can be sown for a good supply in autumn, and lettuces for a succession of supply.

Top Tip for July

Firm, young side shoot cuttings can be rooted in pots in a damp peat substitute and sand mixture, covered with polythene food bags and sealed with the wire ties. A miniature greenhouse.

The Big Glut Recipe – July


Light the barbecue, pack a picnic, invite friends for lunch, spend a bit of time preparing a salad with fresh veg from the garden and you’ll be fully appreciated. Here’s a feast for a summer day.


  • 4 x 175g/6oz tuna steaks, 2.5cm/1in thick
  • 8 new potatoes, cooked and quartered lengthways
  • 4 plum tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 115g/4oz extra fine French beans, topped, cooked and drained
  • 4 little gem lettuce hearts, quartered lengthways
  • 1 red onion finely sliced
  • 4 hardboiled eggs 
  • 6 anchovy fillets, the ones in thin strips in olive oil
  • 16 pitted black olives in brine, drained
  • 8 big basil leaves

Monday, 3 June 2013

This Month in your Garden – June

Could it be that June is everyone’s favourite month in the garden? Certainly summer is almost here, roses are starting to bloom, borders are awash with flowers, bees and butterflies abound. 

The garden is putting on a show and continues to amaze us with all nature has to offer. But even if you’re being rewarded for all your efforts in earlier months and just feel like sitting back and taking it all in we gardeners are thinking about next spring. Simply because there’s plenty to be done to prepare for next year’s even more impressive show. And lots to do now to add to your summer display.

The Lawn Care Guide – June

We’ll take a leaf out of last year’s journal’s lawn tips for June. That’s the beauty of keeping your own journal to refer back to, saving you time and effort. Much of what was said in May still applies. Mowing may be stepped up to twice a week if the grass is growing that fast. 

On the other hand, if the ground is dry and drought prolonged you may need to spike the lawn and give it a mulching cut, leave the collector off the garden tractor and switch to a mulching deck if you have one. Either way, leaving the cuttings on the lawn will help protect it.

Lawn Care Questions and Answers – June

Q. I have large brown patches, like circles, on my lawn. They are very unsightly. What can I do about them? 
Mrs. M. Jones, Virginia Water

A. If the weather has been hot and humid it could be that you have brown patch fungus. It is controllable. The regime of watering only once a week and thoroughly will help by letting the lawn dry out in between. You can apply a lawn fungus control product every other week for six weeks.

The Vegetable Plot – June

You should continue to feed plants in full growth as vegetables will benefit from one or two applications of fertiliser or weak liquid manure. Broad beans will produce their main crop and asparagus should be ready for harvesting. Make more successional sowings of lettuce, endive, radishes, mustard and cress, and turnips. You can sow chicory for forcing but check you have the one you want as there are two types. Pick peas when they produce mature pods. If you planted leeks in trenches in April start blanching them once they are established.

Top Tip for June

Fruit pests are about and spraying apple trees and other fruit may not be effective. Equally if youare at odds with eating sprayed fruit there is an alternative to dealing with codling moth and other pests. They lay their eggs on fruit and leaves and the eggs hatch into maggots. Pheromone traps ensnare the males, reducing fertilisation of the females who then can’t lay eggs. Simple! Buy traps online or from good garden centres.

The Big Glut Recipe – June

Chicken with prawns and asparagus

June is the month when there is a dazzling choice of vegetables in the garden and lots of dishes to enjoy with broad beans and peas, carrots and cauliflowers, potatoes and salads. Asparagus though, isn’t around for long in the garden. If you grow it, enjoy it, share it here with 4-6 people. Serve with some simple wild rice or potatoes or on its own.
  • 25g/2oz butter
  • 2.5kg/5lb chicken cut into 8 serving pieces or use thighs, legs as you wish
  • 2 small onions, finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp flour

Thursday, 9 May 2013

This Month in your Garden - May

If you’re a bedding plant enthusiast then you’ll be extra-busy towards the end of the month as the sooner you plant the sooner you will have flowers. But beware, you can still get frost in May. Having said that it’s more likely you will be busy with your busy lizzies, petunias and salvias and other half-hardy plants, planting them in drifts among shrubs and herbaceous plants.

Remember as well some plants such as mimulus, lobelia and of course busy lizzies do well in shade, along with Senecio cineraria, begonias and coleus.

Lawn Care Questions and Answers - May

Q.  I have over-seeded an area of my lawn that was damaged and the colour is quite different from the rest of the lawn, what can I do about this? Mrs. R. Cain, Worcester.

A. It can be difficult to match a new seed mix with an existing lawn. It’s worth over-seeding the whole lawn if this is not too big a task, for texture and uniformity of colour. In time though, an overseeded or newly turfed area will blend in. 

The Lawn Care Guide - May

There is still time to weed and feed the lawn if you need to clear weeds. Otherwise apply a feed or slow release fertiliser to provide nutrients over a longer period, applied early in the month. 

The Vegetable Plot - May

You can plant tomatoes under glass in the greenhouse without extra heat, either directly into the soil or in
grow bags.

Feed at every watering after the first truss sets but water as little as possible to improve flavour. Don’t shade unless the heat is extreme. 

When plants are flowering spray them with water to help pollination. Maintain a succession of seed sowing for carrots, lettuces and onions.

The Big Glut Recipe – May

Roast leg of lamb with lemon and broad bean sauce

A treat using fresh broad beans as soon as they are ready, probably later in May, early June,and for a short time. Of course you can do this dish at any time with frozen broad beans, but that’s not quite the same is it? This serves 6.

  • 2kg/4lb leg of lamb 
  • 4 garlic cloves, cut into slivers 
  • Salt and black pepper 
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil 
  • 2 egg yolks 
  • 4 tbsp lemon juice 
  • 250ml/8fl oz chicken stock 
  • 500g/1lb broad beans (shelled weight) 
  • 2 tsp thyme, freshly chopped 
  • Roast, boiled new potatoes or other potatoes and garden vegetables of your choice.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

This Month in your Garden - April

‘The season pricketh every gentle heart, and maketh him out of his sleep to start‘, wrote Chaucer in The
Knight’s Tale. There’s plenty to be done as the garden bursts into life. 

There is also an English proverb: ‘A cold April, the barn will fill’ and it’s wise to still keep an eye open for any signs of frost, to protect young shoots with fleece or cloches; similarly protect plants like Azaleas from cold winds. 

There’s still time to plant hardy herbaceous perennials but do so now as they will be putting on growth. Weeds are on the way so be prepared for clearing them, your hoe should be at hand. Look out for pests – greenfly, slugs and snails and you may wish to deal with them with biological treatment. 

Help any plants that need staking and tying. A sprinkling of hardy annual seeds in the borders will bear flowers for very little outlay and bring in birds and butterflies. Buy bedding as plug plants if you’re short on time and space, and this will save you money compared to buying plants at bedding out time. April is a good time to plant alpines.

You can be propagating hardy perennials, planting evergreen shrubs, propagating shrubs by layering, pruning roses and cutting back shrubs such as Buddleia Davidii. Lawns will need more frequent mowing and check in the borders for emerging self seeded plants to transplant or pot before weeding and mulching the border. As the weather warms weed borders and apply a mulch.

  • Dead head naturalized bulbs such as daffodils before they form seed heads, to keep them healthy 
  • Prick out and pot on seedlings to save overcrowding 
  • Divide sprouted dahlia tubers and pot them on 
  • Stop early flowering chrysanthemums by pinching out the growing tips 
  • Rake moss from the lawn 
  • Trim lavender 
  • Tidy salvias when new shoots appear 
  • Plant violas and pansies that have been hardened off 
  • Feed roses with a dressing of compound fertiliser 
  • Stake tall perennials 
  • Attend to the pond Plant sweet peas raised in the greenhouse if hardened off

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Lawn Care Questions and Answers - April

Q. Dead patches of grass have appeared in the lawn, even though I have aerated and scarified, and treated the grass, what could be causing this? M. Allen, Maidenhead.

The Lawn Care Guide – April

You did get the garden tractor or mower serviced didn’t you? What about the power tools? You’ll need them soon. 

The lawn will require frequent mowing from April onwards, depending on weather and location. Start cutting on the higher setting, then reduce the height gradually with each cut, not taking more than a third off the height of the grass with any one mowing.  

How to prune - April

Prune hardy fuchsias, Buddleia, Hydrangea, Leycesteria, Caryopteris, cornus (dogwood) and salix (willow). Prune evergreen shrubs, hedges, topiary and trim formal hedges

The Vegetable Plot – April

As April progresses you can get sowing with summer vegetables outdoors. Peas are a good start, making further sowings at three week intervals until early June. 

You can try dwarf French beans grown in pots in the greenhouse. Harden off plants grown in cold frames – onion, leek, cauliflower, pea, broad bean and lettuce – ready to plant out later in the month. Train and top dress early cucumbers grown in frames. Start leeks in a greenhouse.

The Big Glut Recipe – April

Fillets of Dover sole with watercress, crab and lemon

Ah, the month of watercress, purple sprouting broccoli, lettuce, spinach and prawns. And watercress has been described as a powerhouse vegetable. This is a recipe originally inspired by James Martin.

Serves 2

Friday, 1 March 2013

How to prune - March

Prune large flowered clematis and start pruning roses, removing any dead, damaged or diseased stems. 

Autumn fruiting raspberries can be cut back to ground level and fruit trees can be pruned, removing dead, damaged and diseased branches. 

It’s a good time to cut back hedges before birds start building their nests. Tidy up creepers taking out old, worn and leggy growth. Trim box edging. Bays, laurels, hollies, conifers and rhododendrons can be trimmed. Cut back buddleias, dogwood and willow to bring on new growth.

This Month in your Garden - March

Your hard work in the autumn and winter months, digging and preparing borders, working in compost and tidying up is coming into its own. 

Frosts will have had a beneficial effect on the soil, breaking it down to a good tilth – that’s ideally a loamy, nutrient rich soil, a mix of sand, clay and organic matter will give you a friable soil that is not prone to compacting. 

Finish preparing borders, ready for planting biennials and perennials in April, by forking them over. 

Time to give the lawn some attention by feeding it and seeding bare patches. If the weather is dry and reasonably mild you can sow some hardy annuals such as Sweet Peas and Clarkia. Sweet Pea seedlings started in the autumn or in January under glass should be ready to plant out about now.