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.
Wednesday, 8 August 2018
Wednesday, 1 August 2018
"Summer's lease hath all too short a date." – William Shakespeare
Even ambling around the garden with a pair of secateurs and deadheading roses, to bring on a second flush of blooms, has encouraged retreat beneath the parasol and a grasp for a cool drink. Hopefully all the good work you put into the garden in earlier months has come to fruition with bold, colourful displays in borders.
“A perfect summer day is when the sun is shining, the breeze is blowing, the birds are singing, and the lawn mower is broken.” – James Dent
Mow lightly, frequently and ideally with a mulching deck or mower to leave the cuttings finely chopped to act as a mulch and retain moisture.
If you have an established vegetable plot you’ll be enjoying your salads, the lettuces, rocket, tomatoes, beetroot and second-early potatoes. How about a Caesar or a Salad Nicoise?
Caesar Salad with chicken
- Large, 1.7kg free-range chicken
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 lemon, cut into 4 wedges
- 6 smoked streaky bacon rashers
- 3 thick slices white bread or a small ciabatta loaf, cut into 1.5cm cubes
- 1 romaine lettuce, roughly torn into pieces
- Handful rocket leaves
Tuesday, 10 July 2018
‘I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers.’ - Claude Monet
‘Until man duplicates a blade of grass, nature can laugh at his so called scientific knowledge.’ - Thomas Edison
The best lawn advice this month is to mow according to growth and consider a light dressing of fertiliser or a summer feed if the lawn is looking a bit weak and thin. Ensure though that the nutrient ratios of Nitrogen, Potassium and Phosphorus are low. You need no more than 10% Nitrogen.
‘It's difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a homegrown tomato.' Lewis Grizzard
There is definitely a lot to be said for home grown vegetables and fruit. If you have the space and time there’s nothing like stepping out of your back door and pulling up or picking total freshness for your lunch or evening meal.
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 75g/2¾oz unsalted butter
- ½ onion, very finely chopped
- 1 celery stick, very finely chopped
- 1 small carrot, very finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 125g/4½oz asparagus spears
Monday, 11 June 2018
It was June and the world smelled of roses – Maud Hart Lovelace
Sprinkle with light and more warmth and the roses burst forth to join the fragrant chorus of the June garden. And joining as well in this lustrous impact of scent and colour come the weeds. Well, you didn’t honestly think it would be all romance and no work, did you?
The grass isn’t always greener on the other side – Ricky Gervais
When is a cucumber like a strawberry? When one is in a pickle and the other is in a jam!
Don’t stop there. If you have the space you’ll be planting out the winter greens you’ve grown – broccoli, Brussels sprouts. Along with runner beans, celery, tomatoes, sweet corn, marrow, ridge cucumbers, aubergines and capsicums. I hope you can eat all this.
Roasted asparagus wrapped in Parma ham (side dish)
- 2 bunches of asparagus (about 24 spears), woody ends removed
- Small handful fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- Grated zest of ½ lemon
- 8 slices Parma ham
Thursday, 3 May 2018
In the spring I have counted one hundred and thirty-six different kinds of weather inside of four and twenty hours. Mark Twain
If you like your summer bedding for great splashes of colour in your gardening canvas, be prepared for a busy week or two at the end of the month.
Sitting quietly, doing nothing, Spring comes, and the grass grows by itself. - Zen
All it needed was some rain and a warm spell and away it goes, full of energy and growing like crazy.
Weed might be a problem and a selective weedkiller may be required, following the directions on the label or pack. To stand up to the hard time we give it, the lawn may need a spring feed if not already done, followed by another in late summer.
There’s nothing I like more than picking fresh vegetables then putting them in the dinner you make that night. Patrick Duffy
Give the plants the support they need – a string or line from ceiling to floor will enable you to get the plant growing around it. Remove side shoots and after the first truss appears, feed every second watering. Don’t over water, you’ll get a watery tomato, use as little as you can to ensure you get the full flavour.
Super spring salad
For the spring salad
- 12 Jersey Royal potatoes
- 10 green asparagus spears, sliced on an angle
- 150g/5½oz young broad beans, podded
- 150g/5½oz peas, podded
- 150g/5½oz fresh or frozen soy beans
- 3 spring onions, sliced on an angle
- drizzle of olive oil
Tuesday, 3 April 2018
No life is without difficulties. No garden is without weeds.
Arm yourself with a hoe and stop those annual and perennial weeds from spreading. If you have to, lift herbaceous perennials that have couch grass growing through them and remove grass and weed roots before replanting the plant.
‘I walked across the two feet of drive to the lawn and stepped slowly onto the grass. It wasn't a wild grass, of course, but it was happy grass.’
We all want happy grass but it takes a little work to achieve it. Moss is the arch enemy when the winter and early spring has been so wet it has encouraged the rapid spread through the lawn. A regime of spiking and aerating when conditions have left standing water, then scarifying when it’s dry enough will help get air to grass roots and promote growth.
Aerating the lawn also helps to warm up the soil, while relieving compaction. Severe moss and weed infestation needs remedying with a mix of fertiliser, moss and weedkiller such as Evergreen. If you have a new lawn it can be damaged by weekiller but Scotts Verdone Extra claims to be usable two months after sowing.
Get sowing now!
Stuffed Mediterranean leg of lamb
- 2kg (4lb) leg of lamb on the bone
- 4tbsp flat-leaf parsley, chopped
- 2 anchovies, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 2tbsp salted capers, rinsed
- 1tbsp grated lemon zest
- 2 teacups fresh breadcrumbs
- 2-3tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
- Rocket or baby spinach leaves
- 1 lemon, cut into quarters
Friday, 9 March 2018
"If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant" - Anne Bradstreet
If you’re still waiting for the ground to warm up you could be cutting back winter shrubs, tidying, weeding and pruning. Large flowering clematis, roses, dogwood, buddleia and willow will all benefit from being cut back. The soil in borders you dug over in the autumn will have benefitted from the heavy frosts and can be worked over with a spade or fork to create a fine tithe, with plenty of compost added ready for planting.
"I fought the lawn and the lawn won" - Internet quote
Once you have decided how your regime is to be run you can have a lawn as good as the best. If you have been following the Gardener’s Journal tips for lawns you’ll know we’ve talked about aerating and scarifying come the spring to counter moss and thatch. Before you do that you’ll be mowing and it’s recommended you start with a higher cut and gradually lower the tractor deck or adjust the mower height. Your grass is most probably a mixture of fine and coarse grasses.
"There are five elements: earth, air, fire, water and garlic" - Louis Diat
Roasted red pepper and tomato soup
- 2tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 large red peppers, seeds removed and roughly chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 600g (21oz) ripe tomatoes, quartered
- 1 x 400g (14oz) tin chopped tomatoes
- 1l chicken stock or vegetable stock
- 1tbsp chopped fresh basil, to garnish
- Extra virgin olive oil, to garnish
Friday, 2 February 2018
"One of the most delightful things about a garden is the anticipation it provides" -W.E. Johns
Once you’ve enjoyed the snowdrops’ display you can divide the bulbs and plant fresh ‘in the green’ after the flowers have faded but the leaves are intact. They don’t do well planted as dry bulbs. Now there’s a succession of jobs to be done as February progresses. Pruning will be high on the list for those with roses not already cut back by a half to two thirds.
"My mom said the only reason men are alive is for lawn care and vehicle maintenance" – Tim Allen, comedian
Turf can be laid this month so long as the soil is not too wet and it’s not frosty. It’s best to use planks to work from to save compacting the soil and allow several weeks for the roots to get established.
For existing lawns, also when it’s not frosty, have a walk about and look for any spongy areas and moss growth. You can treat this by aerating if it’s not too wet and when conditions are drier scarify the lawn to lift the thatch and moss.
"Old gardeners never die, they just run out of thyme" Old gardening saying
Vegetables you can sow now include Brussels sprouts, cabbages, carrots, cauliflowers, lettuces, onions, leeks, parsnips, peas, radishes, spinach, tomatoes and turnips. So there are no excuses. Follow the seed packet instruction for growing and use cloches, horticultural fleece, the greenhouse or seed trays indoors, whatever is appropriate to your garden space. You can even grow peas in the greenhouse in lengths of soil filled guttering with holes drilled in the bottom for drainage.
Cauliflower cheese with salmon
- 1 large cauliflower, cut into florets
- 50g/2oz butter, plus extra for greasing
- 50g/2oz plain flour
- 450ml/16fl oz milk
- 2 free-range egg yolks
- 1 tsp English mustard
- splash of Worcestershire sauce
- salt and black pepper
- 150g/5oz cooked flaked salmon
- 125g/4½oz cheddar cheese, grated
- 75g/3oz emmental cheese, grated
Wednesday, 3 January 2018
‘The love of gardening is a seed once sown that never dies’ – Gertrude Jekyll
We can put our trust in time-worn tasks for this month and first on the list is: have you had your garden tractor or mower and power tools serviced in readiness for the spring? If you have a non-heated greenhouse it’s good to ventilate it ready for sowing, assuming it has already been cleaned and disinfected. If the ground is not frozen you can still plant new fruit bushes, bare root roses, shrubs, hedging and trees. Prune apple and pear trees, dig over vacant borders and let the frost help break down the soil to a good tilth. It is actually the last chance to sow native tree and shrub seeds as well as alpines.
Life begins the day you start a garden – Chinese proverb
If it’s frosty, needless to say, keep off the lawn if you can. Walking on it causes ‘frost burn’ which may leave blackened foot impressions on the surface. In dry weather generally tidying up edges with an edging tool or edging shears is another job well done. Picking out weeds each time you see them is a help towards having a weed-free lawn come spring, without the need for herbicide.