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, 1 May 2019

This Month in Your Garden - May

'Every spring is the only spring - a perpetual astonishment'. -  Ellis Peters 


All the careful planning, neat planting and border tidying and there’s always some plant, some flower, pops up to astonish us. Now where did you come from? May is always full of surprises and with the frosts passed we can sow and plant more to delight the eye in the months to come. Early bulbs have gone over so we may be thinking about lifting them if they are overcrowded.

The Lawn Care Guide - May

Early warning: weed attack


Just when the lawn is looking good you step out one morning and notice there are a lot more weeds than there were yesterday. Or so it seems. The speedwells, chickweed, dandelion and daisies all find your lawn a nice place to live. The buttercups with their pretty yellow flowers are creeping around and may be regarded as not offensive until, that is, off they go covering the turf at an alarming rate.

Lawn Care: Questions & Answers

Q. We have cracks appearing in the soil surface of our newly seeded lawn, what can we do about it?

The Vegetable Plot - May

And sow on


Succession sowing brings you a plentiful and regular supply of fresh vegetables through spring and summer. Somehow there’s a greater delight in enjoying the crunch of home grown lettuce, salad onions, carrots and radishes on a warm summer evening, compared to taking them out of a plastic bag.

The Big Glut Recipe - May

Creamy broccoli and bacon spaghetti

Super, simple midweek dish serves four, courtesy of Delicious Magazine.

Ingredients

  • 400g spaghetti
  • ½ large head broccoli, cut into small florets
  • Olive oil for drizzling
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 4 British free-range unsmoked streaky bacon rashers, roughly chopped
  • 100ml half-fat crème fraîche
  • 5 free-range egg yolks (freeze the whites in a labelled freezer bag)
  • Grated cheddar to serve (optional)

Tuesday, 2 April 2019

This Month in Your Garden - April

‘Sweet April showers Do spring May flowers.’ -  Thomas Tusser, A Hundred Good Points of Husbandry, 1557  


We’re seeing the results of strange weather patterns in February but one thing is certain, spring is with us and we can expect April showers. But sunny days too will see us out there mowing the lawn and sowing hardy annuals. If the temperature is up around 7°C/ 45°F you can sow directly into the ground or, to be safe from frosts, sow in the greenhouse if you have one, or a cold frame.

The Lawn Care Guide - April

Cut and come again


It’s only natural to want the lawn looking its splendid self after the winter and so there is a tendency among us all to cut too close, too early.  We should mow as the growth dictates, remembering the higher the cut the healthier the plant will be. So we should expect to lower the cutting height gradually down to 3cm (1.25”) cutting height by the end of the month.

Lawn Care: Questions & Answers

Q. We have prepared for a new lawn but we’ve not yet seeded because of the weather. Is it too late?

The Vegetable Plot - April

Variety is the spice of life


All things nice grow in your vegetable patch and more than fill your five a day. Succession sowing will see you stocked with veg right through to autumn and beyond. What a list it is! Carrots, turnips, beetroot, spinach, radishes, Brussels sprouts, peas, parsnips, broad beans, leeks, broccoli, summer cabbage, cauliflower and lettuce.

The Big Glut Recipe - April

Lamb Fillet with walnut pesto 


A tasty way with spring lamb serves four and takes little time to prepare and cook. The pesto keeps in the fridge a few days and goes nicely as well  with goat’s cheese and roast beetroot salad.

Ingredients
  • Handful of basil leaves
  • Handful of flat-leaf parsley
  • 50g (1 ¾oz) freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 100g (3 ½oz) walnuts

Tuesday, 5 March 2019

This Month in Your Garden - March

‘Autumn arrives in the early morning, but spring at the close of a winter day.’ -  Elizabeth Bowen


Whatever the weather, March is going to be a busy month because nature is irrepressible and once winter has bowed out around mid-March the show begins. Assuming you don’t have a carpet of snow, early month is usually best approached with general tasks of clearing and preparation, cutting back and tidying up. Hedges need trimming back before birds start nesting.

The Lawn Care Guide - March

Time to mow


The time has arrived, out with the garden tractor or mower, set the deck to the right height and away you go. That is assuming the ambient soil temperature has the grass growing and needing a haircut. That’s all it should be to begin with.

Lawn Care: Questions & Answers

Q. Can I make my own top dressing or do I need to buy it in?

The Vegetable Plot - March

Sow far, sow good


If you would like a supply of celery from October onwards and through the winter, now is the time to sow. Growing traditional celery takes a lot of effort but it’s well worth it for the flavour and in cooking it’s so versatile. Easier to grow is the self-blanching variety but it will still need humous rich soil and plenty of watering and feeding. Start from seed under heated glass in March and April.

The Big Glut Recipe - March

Shepherd’s Pie with lamb shank


A shepherd's pie recipe by Caroline Barty, using tender, braised lamb shank to elevate this favourite to something special.

Ingredients

1 onion, peeled and cut into 2cm-thick slices
4 garlic cloves, unpeeled, plus 2 garlic cloves, crushed
3 sprigs rosemary
6 small lamb shanks
500ml medium-bodied red wine
3 tablespoons sunflower or rapeseed oil
2 leeks, trimmed, washed and cut into 1cm rounds
2 sticks celery, finely sliced
2 carrots, peeled and finely diced
2 heaped tablespoons plain flour

Monday, 4 February 2019

This Month in Your Garden - February

‘The flowers of late winter and early spring occupy places in our hearts well out of proportion to their size.’ Gertrude Smith Wister (1905–1999)



The Anglo Saxons had several names for February, one of which was ‘Sprout-kale’ relating to kale and cabbages being ready to eat, and another, ‘Fill-dike’, because the ditches would fill with the rain and melting snow. The month may find us nipping in and out of the garden when the weather permits, enjoying splashes of colour from snowdrops, winter aconites, irises, crocus and evergreens such as Viburnums, Mahonias and hellebores.

The Lawn Care Guide - February

The worm has turned


There was a time when pesticides were used to remove worms. Not so today. Twenty-seven species of earthworm reside in the UK and under your grass they will be working away, aerating the soil. Charles Darwin referred to worms as ‘nature’s ploughs’ and they’re perfectly designed to create tunnels which allow oxygen and water to enter and carbon dioxide to leave the soil.

Lawn Care: Questions & Answers

Q. Is it too early to apply fertiliser to the lawn?

The Vegetable Plot - February

What’s on the plot?


For those of us in milder areas and with sandy loam there’s a good chance the soil will have warmed up enough to be sowing a variety of vegetables under cloches. Carrots, parsnips, peas, spinach, summer cabbage, salad onions, broad beans, beetroot, radishes and lettuces are enough to keep you going for a while. Garlic and shallots can go into light soil.

The Big Glut Recipe - February

Honey-roast Jerusalem artichoke, parsnip and pearl barley salad with grilled goat’s cheese



A warming salad recipe of roasted Jerusalem artichokes, parsnips and pear barley, topped off with creamy, tangy goat’s cheese.

Ingredients

  • 500g Jerusalem artichokes, peeled and halved/quartered lengthways (or left whole if small)
  • 500g parsnips, sliced lengthways into wedges, woody parts removed
  • 300g banana shallots, halved lengthways
  • 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus an extra 4 tbsp
  • 2 tbsp sherry vinegar, plus an extra 3 tbsp
  • 2 tbsp honey, plus an extra 2 tsp

Friday, 4 January 2019

Gardening for the over 60s


Retirement brings with it one obvious advantage for the keen gardener… time. Depending on your
lifestyle, you can devote as many hours as you wish to your favourite pastime and finally achieve the garden of your dreams.

This Month in Your Garden – January

‘New Year’s day is everyman’s birthday.’ Charles Lamb


January is named after the Etruscan word janua, meaning door. Whilst often the coldest month, it heralds the New Year ahead and as the days lengthen nature senses it’s time for growth.

Welcome back to the Gardener’s Journal where we begin our journey and open the door to a new gardening year. If it’s cold outside we can sit by the fire with the seed and plant catalogues, plotting what plant where in the coming months.

Wednesday, 2 January 2019

The Lawn Care Guide: January

Care and repair


You can repair and adjust turf levels this month by peeling back or cutting and lifting sods using suitable tools and then add a good soil to dress the depression. Use a soil similar in quality and texture to the top soil in your flower beds and borders.

It’s a good time to establish lawn edges using a half moon edger and, weather permitting, you can lay turves to create a new lawn if you already have the area prepared. Weeds that appear on the lawn can be picked out by hand using a hand fork and pressing the grass and soil back down.

Lawn Care: Questions & Answers

Q. We have a lot of moss in our lawn. What can we do to get rid of it?  

The Vegetable Plot – January

Every good potato deserves flavour

 

Off to the garden centre with you and pick up your seed potatoes, because there’s nothing like the taste sensation you get from home grown spuds.

You don’t need a big patch to grow them in, you can even use a large trug or bucket or even a stack of old tyres. But first you need to chit and that’s done by placing the miniature tubers into empty egg cartons with the eye area facing up.

The Big Glut Recipe – January

Persian lamb tagine


Ring the changes after the festive season’s food with a winter warmer for eight to ten people. BBC Good Food.

Ingredients

  • 2kg lamb neck fillets
  • 5 tbsp mild olive oil or sunflower oil
  • 3 medium onions, cut into thin wedges
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 4 tsp ground cumin
  • 4 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp hot chilli powder
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • large pinch of saffron
  • 2 cinnamon sticks