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 20 February 2012

Try BEFORE You Buy - Why Test Drives are Recommended!

Question: Would you purchase a new car without test driving it first? 

Imagine how disappointed you would be if, upon collection of your shiny new hatchback, you found out that your golf clubs didn’t fit in the boot. Perhaps the 15mpg fuel economy is a little too rich for your pocket or maybe the car is too wide for your garage.

A lawn tractor or ride on mower can be a similar price as a second-hand car, so why don’t more people test drive before they buy?

Wednesday 15 February 2012

Patchy lawn: Top 3 Culprits - and how to fix them!

There are many reasons why yellow or brown patches might appear on your lawn. Here are the top three culprits to consider plus some easy solutions to overcome them.

1. The Weather

Drought is the main cause of a patchy lawn
By weather we mean drought! If there has been a prolonged period without rain, your lawn may have dried out. Brown or yellow grass with irregular patches is a good indicator that the soil is parched. 

Solution: Prevention is better than cure and, hosepipe ban permitting, you should water your lawn throughout the hot summer months. Many say that mulch mowing can help during periods of drought as the tiny clippings release nutrients and moisture back to the roots of the grass plant and provide a protective screen over the soil. If your lawn is badly dried, try spiking or aerating followed by intensive watering. 

Friday 10 February 2012

Choosing a Lawn Tractor - FEBRUARY

A 'sweeping' collection system avoids grass clogging
When it comes to the weather, the only thing you can count on is its unpredictability. The British climate, for instance, is notoriously wet and on most days, even when it has not rained, the grass is often damp.

If you live somewhere where long dry summers are not guaranteed, you definitely need to take the weather into consideration when choosing your next lawn tractor.

Avoid the GREEN ARM

Many lawn mowers, not just tractors, struggle to collect wet grass. The tell tale signs that your mower is failing are rolls or clumps of grass left in the cutting path. This usually means that the discharge chute is blocked. The blades continue to spin, throwing clippings to the edge of the deck where they are deposited in soggy piles behind the mower.

Wednesday 1 February 2012

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The Lawn Care Guide - FEBRUARY

At this time of year, some grass may die back as the lawn starts to grow, creating spongy areas.

If conditions are mild and dry in late February to early spring you can scarify the lawn now to remove moss or thatch. Use a scarifier attachment with your garden tractor, an electric/powered scarifier or simply a rake.

This Month in Your Garden - FEBRUARY

A powered cultivator can be used to
turn over hard soil ready for planting.
Snow or hard ground in January might have put paid to finishing off the digging so, weather permitting, now’s the time to finish it. 

Ground turned over and left can be broken down to a fine surface when it’s dry. A powered cultivator or tiller can help here. A top dressing of manure can be applied. Lawn sites to be turfed or sown later can be prepared now if it’s not too wet. 

There’s still time to plant and transplant lilies outdoors. Roses can be pruned in mid-February rather than waiting until March – note to clear up cut growth and give a dose of fertiliser, rose feed, well rotted manure. 

There’s still time to plant fruit trees, deciduous ornamental trees, shrubs and roses in early February. 

The Vegetable Plot - FEBRUARY

Plant out potatoes in late February
Remember, if in January you had set aside an area covered in polythene or cloches you can now early sow. 

You can plant potatoes in a sheltered border in late February, the Arran Pilot you started chitting in January would be good for an early crop.

The Big Glut Recipe - FEBRUARY

Leek & Sausage Casserole with a Chive Mash
A simple dish on a cold evening for four people that takes about 10 minutes to prepare and cooks in around 30 minutes. Served here with chive mash or you could rustle up some noodles with butter and garlic.

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 8 Lincolnshire or pork sausages of choice
  • 1 large onion sliced
  • 200g/7oz sliced leeks
  • 4 garlic cloves sliced
  • 2 sticks of celery sliced
  • Small bunch of sage leaves (ideally from the garden)
  • 200ml/7fl oz white wine
  • 400ml/14fl oz passata (a jar from the supermarket or even better, homemade)
  • 400ml/14fl oz chicken stock
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Salt and cracked black pepper 
  • A small bunch of flat leaf parsley, chopped