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 29 November 2017

The Vegetable Plot - December

"Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit; Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad." Tad Dorgan

We’re fortunate in that we can wander into the supermarket and buy whatever fruit and vegetables we want at this time of the year. But there is so much satisfaction in growing and eating your own if you have the time and space. Even a small plot can be productive and the seasonal menus call for Brussels sprouts and parsnips, leeks and celery, cauliflower and cabbage, Jerusalem artichokes, kale, beetroot and celeriac. Even just one or two home-grown of the essential vegetables of your choice for Christmas dinner will be an enjoyable complement.

The Big Glut Recipe

Boned capon stuffed with chestnuts and cranberries

Something different from the traditional turkey. This Caroline Barty recipe from House & Garden serves 6 people. If you can’t get a capon a large chicken will do. Time to open a full-bodied white or a good Shiraz.


  • 1 x 3kg capon, boned
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 30g butter, softened

For the stuffing: 

  • 325g good-quality pork sausages, skins removed
  • 1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 250g cooked, peeled chestnuts, roughly chopped
  • 75g fresh white breadcrumbs
  • 65g dried cranberries
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped rosemary
  • 1 large egg, beaten

Wednesday 1 November 2017

This Month in Your Garden - November

"It is a golden maxim to cultivate the garden for the nose, and the eyes will take care of themselves." Robert Louis Stevenson

Roses still flowering at the end of October. A lawn that demands another mow but is too wet to cut (unless you have a garden tractor designed to cut in the wet). Fuschias still glowing pink in the light fading into autumn. As the clocks change, for many of us the garden is still growing and the roses can wait to be pruned back. Enjoy the fragrance and colour. Winter jasmine is glowing yellow, certainly where we are. But the reports tell us we’re in for cold weather so let’s make the best of days when we can get all those autumn clear- up jobs done and batten down for the winter.

The first frosts have arrived and it’s time to bring tender pelargoniums and fuschias into the greenhouse or conservatory. Oh yes, the greenhouse could do with a good wash down with a bit of Jeye’s Fluid and good old fashioned washing-up liquid and water. Pots, trays, tools too. Bring on the colour for next year.

The Lawn Care Guide - November

"The grass may be greener on the other side of the fence, but you still have to mow it." Anon

Only mow the grass in November if growth dictates it. The mild October spells have certainly promoted growth but the first frosts have arrived to slow it down and the grass will become subjected to stress during the winter months. Wet, cold and freezing conditions all take their toll but if you have stuck to a proper care programme for the lawn it will repay you come spring and summer next year.

Good drainage is important and you can help with that by slitting areas prone to waterlogging. If you are mowing don’t cut the grass too short, leave it some growth for protection. If it’s frosty don’t walk on it if that can be avoided on your way to the composter or the bird feeder.

Lawn Care: Questions and Answers

Q. I have treated our lawn for moss but we seem to have a lot of it. What more can I do to stop it growing?

The Vegetable Plot - November

"Growing your own food is like printing your own money" Ron Finley

What is in season this month? Beetroot, butternut squash, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, celeriac, celery, leeks you’ve lifted after a good frost, chestnuts and chicory, could be lifting and storing Jerusalem artichokes, parsnips, horseradish and salsify. If you have room in your garden you could be planting fruit trees and bushes, apples, pears, plums and cherries – peaches even, nectarines and apricots.

What about some standards in containers or espalier along a fence or trellis? Every bit of room in the vegetable garden will, forgive us, bear fruit. And under glass you could be growing carrots, radishes, onions, French beans, lettuces, endive, mustard and cress. Think about how much money you save having vegetables and fruit from your own garden, space and time permitting.

The Big Glut Recipe

Brussels sprouts gratin with bacon, cream and almonds

This Sophie Grigson BBC recipe is the perfect accompaniment for roast turkey, so why not try a dummy run now and keep it in mind for the festive meal? 


  • 900g/2lb Brussels sprouts, trimmed
  • 20g/¾oz butter
  • 4 tsp sunflower oil
  • 150g/5oz bacon lardons (or rindless back bacon, cut into short fat strips)
  • 20g/¾oz flaked almonds
  • 400ml/14fl oz double cream
  • 2½ tsp lemon juice
  • 5½ tbsp fresh white breadcrumbs
  • 4 tbsp freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper