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.

Friday 2 February 2018

This Month in Your Garden - February

"One of the most delightful things about a garden is the anticipation it provides" -W.E. Johns 

The name Galanthus is derived from the Greek gala for milk and anthos for flower. Add the epithet nivalis: ‘of the snow’ and that’s how Carl Linnaeus arrived at the name for the snowdrop in his Species Plantarus in 1735. These little early heralds of change in the garden, and spring ahead, have proliferated in abundance in January and into this month, quickly followed by the daffodils.

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.

The Lawn Care Guide - February

"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.

Lawn Care: Questions and Answers

Q. What is vertical mowing?

A. Vertical mowing is also (and probably better) known as scarification where a machine that has a set of knives or tines mounted on a shaft is used to remove thatch and moss to promote healthy, lush grass growth.

The Vegetable Plot - February

"Old gardeners never die, they just run out of thyme" Old gardening saying

The vegetable seed beds are prepared, the soil cleared of weeds and the old Brussels sprouts and cabbages are gone. Now is the time for chitting seed potatoes and planting out garlic and shallots in sandy soils – if your soil is heavy wait a while for it to warm up.

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.

The Big Glut Recipe

Cauliflower cheese with salmon

This James Martin dish uses cooked flaked salmon but suggests other leftovers from the Sunday roast would also substitute.

  • 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