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, 2 November 2020

This Month in Your Garden - November

"Autumn is marching on: even the scarecrows are wearing dead leaves." Otsuyu Nakagawa

Well, they are saying we’re in for a mild winter, but this is Britain and we’re all experts at talking about the weather. November starts a little wet but nothing like 3rd October, the wettest day on record for the UK, with enough rain in a day to fill Loch Ness. 

The Lawncare Guide - November

 Not a patch in sight


You only need to mow now if growth dictates, such as in warmer areas of the country. Where temperatures are above 5º (41ºF) grass continues growing, which may mean some final cuts with the cutting height set to about 4cm (1.5”). This height will give the grass protection during the winter months.

Lawn Care: Questions & Answers

Q. We have had a lot of weeds on the lawn this year, how do we deal with them?


The Vegetable Plot - November

 Dig that!

An old gardener (he was in his nineties) interviewed in a well-known TV gardening programme said, “always use a spade, son, that’s what my old dad used to say”. True, when you are digging your vegetable plot. If the ground has not been dug before or is very hard, use the double-digging technique. 

The Big Glut Recipe - November

Beetroot cured cod with fennel and kohlrabi slaw

By the BBC Good Food Team.

Ingredients

  • 150g grated raw beetroot
  • 1 lemon , zested
  • 25ml gin
  • 1 tbsp sea salt
  • 1 tbsp golden caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp roughly chopped dill fronds
  • 1 fresh skinless fillet of cod , about 240g

Thursday, 1 October 2020

This Month in Your Garden - October

‘The winds give me enough fallen leaves to make a fire.’ Ryokan Taigu


The Fall is the more than apt description for autumn’s annual leaf deposit and there are many parts of our island that rival New England’s spectacularly colourful display. After the great show, we do of course have the task of clearing up and adding all those leaves to the compost or filling plastic sacks to make leaf mould. 

The Lawncare Guide - October

Turf and tea time

Conditions should be about right for laying turf this month to give the grass a good start while the ground is still relatively warm. In an area you have prepared, during August and September, lay turves in a staggered pattern like bricks to avoid leaving any gaps. 

Lawn Care: Questions & Answers

Q. We have a large number of grass paths between borders, about three feet wide. Have you any advice on how to treat them? 

The Vegetable Plot - October

 Gimme shelter (or leave no stone unturned)

There is a surprising number of crops you can grow now if you have a sheltered area in the vegetable patch. You can get an early crop of peas by sowing overwintering cultivars under cloches for protection. 

The Big Glut Recipe - October

Pumpkin soup with Gruyere and fried sage

By Sally Clarke for House and Garden

Enough for 4 – 6 people for lunch and you can add other ingredients such as roasted wild mushrooms.

Ingredients

For the stuffed pumpkin

  • 1 x 2kg ironbark, blue hubbard or onion squash, or similar pumpkin
  • 300ml double cream, plus a little extra if needed
  • 50ml vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1tbsp finely chopped sage
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed with salt
  • 100g Gruyère or Cheddar

Tuesday, 1 September 2020

This Month in Your Garden - September

A late summer garden has a tranquillity found no other time of year. William F Longgood


September may be an autumn month but it often clings on to August weather albeit in a slightly cooler manner, which is ideal for the gardener. Those scorching days of summer were not inviting if there was work to be done and the rain and warmth have certainly brought up the weeds in abundance.

The Lawncare Guide - September

The green, green grass of home


If you have prepared the ground for a new lawn you can start seeding or do it nearer the end of the month into October depending on the weather. If you have sown a new lawn it should germinate after ten to fourteen days and when it reaches 2 to 3cm (1”) high it will benefit from a light rolling.

Lawn Care: Questions & Answers

Q. We’ve had a lot of rain and now there’s a spread of moss especially in shady areas of the lawn where we have trees. How can we treat it?

The Vegetable Plot - September

 The big freeze in September


You will be lifting your potatoes and onions now, leaving beds free for moving in the spring cabbage you sowed in mid-July where they can mature. Half-space plant them, then in spring you can lift alternate plants and leave the others to grow on for later.

The Big Glut Recipe - September

 Orchard crumble


Just the ticket when you have a glut of fruit. From BBC Good Food

Ingredients
  • 400g apple, peeled, cored and cut into small pieces
  • 400g stoned plum, cut into chunky wedges
  • 2 tbsp sugar, any type
  • 300g fig, woody stalks trimmed, quartered
  • 300g blackberry or brambles, washed well
  • Cream, custard or ice cream, to serve

Monday, 3 August 2020

This Month in Your Garden - August

In summer, the song sings itself -  William Carlos Williams


Weather computer forecast models are telling us August is to be a mixed month. It’s hard to go wrong with that kind of forecast, bit of warm, bit of rain, a little dry, the odd heavy shower. Whatever the weather you won’t keep us gardeners from pottering around especially since the garden has had more than usual attention over the last few months.

The Lawncare Guide - August

The grass is greener where you water it – Neil Barringham


The South and South West are likeliest to be drier this August, we are told, so it may be time to get the hose sprinkler on the lawn if you want to keep it green. Give it a good, long soaking each week. If you don’t want to use the water and it goes a little brown don’t worry, it will perk up with a bit of rain.

Lawn Care: Questions & Answers

Q. When we get heavy rain the water sits on the surface of the lawn in several areas and won’t drain. What’s the best solution?

The Vegetable Plot - August

Push and pull

There’s plenty you can sow now if you have the space. Why not push in some seeds and grow cauliflower, endive, corn salad, red cabbage, radishes, spinach, stump rooted carrots and turnips?

If you have grown garlic you can be harvesting it along with shallots and herbs for drying. Maincrop celery could do with earthing up and endive, leeks and celery can be blanched. If you have grown cucumbers in frames and they are spent, clear them out now.

The Big Glut Recipe - August

Asparagus salad with Ricotta, watercress and lemon


By Sybil Kapoor for House & Garden 

Ingredients

  • 2 bunches medium to large asparagus, approximately 12-18 thicker stemmed spears
  • 2 bunches watercress
  • 400g fresh ricotta
  • Maldon salt
  • 1tbsp finely chopped chives
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
  • 2 lemons, one zested and the other cut into 6 wedges

Monday, 6 July 2020

This Month in Your Garden - July

Gardening requires lots of water, most of it in the form of perspiration. Lou Erickson


Scorching days in June and earlier months have meant a regime of constant watering for many gardeners. Planting in containers, pots and hanging baskets calls for making sure they also don’t dry out, while you remember the tomato plants in the greenhouse and the vegetables in that rather dry plot. But when is best to water, morning or evening?

Thursday, 2 July 2020

The Lawncare Guide - July

For the avoidance of drought

It’s sorrowful. You’ve worked hard on the lawn with a firm regime of aerating, scarifying, cutting and collecting or mulching with the cutting deck or mower at precisely the right height – going by the book. You’ve treated for weeds and moss and given the grass good feed and fertiliser.

Lawn Care: Questions & Answers

Q. We treated the lawn with a weed and feed mix earlier in the year but now we have weeds popping up again. What can we do, should we weed and feed again?

The Vegetable Plot - July

If you’ve got the thyme…


There’s nothing more satisfying or mouth-watering than harvesting home-grown veg when it’s your own grown crop. Beetroot and tender carrot, fiery radishes in cool salads, broad beans, runner beans, garlic, cucumber, lettuce, aubergine and courgette flower.

The Big Glut Recipe - July

BURRATA WITH MARINATED COURGETTES AND AUBERGINES


From Homes & Gardens as a first course or a light lunch served with tomato bruschetta

Serves 6.

Ingredients

  • 2 medium courgettes (about 300g) 
  • 1 aubergine (about 300g)
  • Olive oil, enough for frying and drizzling
  • Small bunch of mint
  • 1 red chilli, finely chopped
  • 1–2tbsp best-quality red-wine vinegar (Volpaia, Forum or Unio Cabernet Sauvignon are all excellent)
  • 6 balls of burrata (or mozzarella)

Monday, 8 June 2020

This Month in Your Garden - June

If you have a garden and a library you have everything you need. Cicero 106 BC – 43 BC


For those of us lucky enough to have a garden there has been blessed relief in the past couple of months, with the weather favourable as well most of the time. Consider though, a garden can be any size and in any location you wish, with a little thought and study, which is where the library comes in. Even a balcony can become a garden area with a few well-chosen plants.

The Lawncare Guide - June

If you’re in any drought.


Frequent mowing of the lawn and removing a little more often is beneficial for the grass. Mowing once a week is likely now. Don’t be tempted to cut very short, especially in the dry periods. In fact, many people will prefer to mulch in extended dry or drought conditions.

Lawn Care: Questions & Answers

Q. I have a tree on my lawn and it has pushed a root above the surface which makes mowing difficult. What can I do?

The Vegetable Plot - June

And sow on


It’s time for harvesting lettuce and other salads, radish and early potatoes. Nip out the side shoots on tomato plants and give them a feed and well ventilate those in a greenhouse. Watering a-plenty is likely needed now with a good soaking on the vegetables every few days or even more frequently in very high temperatures.

The Big Glut Recipe - June

Beef and asparagus salad, honey dressing, radishes and cherry tomatoes 


This delicious summer dish is from House & Garden.

Ingredients
FOR THE DRESSING:

  • ½ a cup of extra virgin olive oil or pomace oil
  • 2 tbsp of white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp of honey
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp wholegrain mustard
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 8 stems of asparagus (hard root removed)
  • 1 x 8oz Ribeye steak
  • Sea salt
  • 6 radishes
  • 100g of fresh watercress or baby leaf salad
  • 10 cherry tomatoes

Friday, 1 May 2020

This Month in Your Garden - May

‘If it’s drama you sigh for, plant a garden and you’ll get it. Edward A. Guest


For many of us with gardens, the current situation has brought us even closer to nature, from listening to the birds to watching bees hover over a flower. Somehow there seems to be that little extra bit of time to observe nature at its finest. So many sunny days and warmth in April have lured the May garden rapidly towards summer and as the bulbs have faded so the herbaceous border is ready to take over and stage the season’s dramas.

The Lawncare Guide - May

Topdressing is the fashion in May


You can still be aerating and scarifying the lawn in May. Choose a dry day and the aeration will relieve the compaction on the lawn and help get air to the roots of the grass. It will also lift moss and thatch which you can scarify away, collecting the debris with the garden tractor, where the brushes will also ‘groom’ the grass, or use a mower.

Lawn Care: Questions & Answers

Q. We have patches of yellow and brown grass appearing when the weather is dry. We don’t have a dog and we’ve been following your aeration and scarifying suggestions. What else could be the cause and what can we do?

The Vegetable Plot - May

Sow by now 


It’s time to reap the rewards of your earlier sowings and harvest spring onions and cabbages sown last year. There’s plenty of sowing to be done to harvest maincrop beetroot, late broccoli, peas and parsley, cucumbers and pumpkins. You can sow Savoy and winter cabbage all in nursery rows, and on to outdoor sowings of cauliflowers, cabbages, Brussels sprouts, parsnips and swedes, along with maincrop carrots for autumn.

The Big Glut Recipe - May

Barbequed courgettes with dill, goat’s cheese, mint and yoghurt


Great as a starter or as a side for lunch, cooked on the BBQ. From House & Garden who got it from The River Cottage Handbook. Photo by Gavin Kingcome.

Ingredients

  • 4–6 medium courgettes
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • ½ tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds, toasted and crushed
  • 3 tbsp natural yoghurt
  • 150g soft goat’s or ewe’s cheese
  • ½ small garlic clove, peeled and grated
  • A small bunch of chives, thinly sliced
  • 6–8 sprigs of dill, chopped, plus extra to garnish
  • 2 tbsp chopped mint, plus whole leaves to garnish
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


Tuesday, 7 April 2020

Lawn Care: Questions & Answers


Q. How can I stop badgers from digging in my pots disturbing the plants and how to stop deer eating the plants?

Wednesday, 1 April 2020

This Month in Your Garden - April

‘Spring makes everything young again except man.’ Richter


In these unprecedented times, social distancing and isolation at home can have negative effects on mental health. Gardening is known to help and while it’s not a panacea, anyone who is feeling anxious may find the garden a therapeutic respite. At the time of writing this month’s journal the garden centres were closing, but ordering online and keeping a safe distance between you and the courier is still an alternative.

The Lawncare Guide - April

Keep Off The Grass


Once a familiar sign in public places the command equally applies to newly sown grass which shouldn’t be walked on or mown until it reaches a height of at least 5-8cm (2-3in). April into May is the time to seed a new lawn on a prepared bed or overseed patches, providing it’s not too wet or frost is persisting.

Lawn Care: Questions & Answers

Q. We have a lot of bare patches on our lawn after the winter and where we’ve scraped out the moss. What should we do to to get the grass back?

The Vegetable Plot - April

Sow here we go


Succession sowing will see you in vegetables through to autumn and that means a riot of planting on your patch if you have space. Well, a controlled riot at least. Carrot, turnip, beetroot, spinach are favourites along with lettuces and peas. The latter will need supporting with pea sticks when they appear. On with radishes, Brussels sprouts and, not needing support: broad beans.

The Big Glut Recipe - April

Lamb kefta with herb salad and spicy yoghurt


A variation on Moroccan street food that takes 5 minutes to prepare. From House and Garden magazine.

Ingredients

For the kefta

  • 11/2kg minced fatty lamb
  • 1 medium white onion, grated
  • 3tbsp ground cumin
  • 2tbsp ground turmeric
  • 1tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2tsp chilli powder
  • 10g mint leaves, finely chopped
  • 10g parsley, finely chopped
  • 2eggs

Tuesday, 3 March 2020

Lawn Care: Questions & Answers

Q. I have been given some granular ferrous sulphate and told that it will help to kill the moss in our lawn, is this so and how do I apply it please?

Monday, 2 March 2020

This Month in Your Garden - March

‘Loveliest of trees, the cherry now is hung with bloom, along the bough.’
A.E. Houseman, Shropshire Lad


One of the loveliest and earliest of cherries, Prunus incisa Kojo-no-mai, usually begins to blossom in February and is in full bloom in March. It’s a dwarf, growing to about five feet high and lending an oriental touch to the garden. Following the wettest February in six years and lamentable flooding in many parts of the country, we hope this month will turn the corner to the start of spring and drier weather.

The Lawncare Guide - March

The first cut is the weakest


For many of us, the first cut of the lawn will be in March and it’s all too easy to want to shave off all of that sudden growth spurt. Don’t. Set the mower or garden tractor cutting deck at a high height of cut. We only want to tip off the top part of the leaf. Mowing to achieve award-winning stripes comes later in the season.

Lawn Care: Questions & Answers

Q. When can I over-sow, I have been told it’s good for the lawn.

The Vegetable Plot - March

The old sow and sow


Maincrop onions sown in drills with plenty of farmyard manure. A main sowing of celery for a ready supply from October onwards. Broad beans, brassicas, cauliflowers, Brussels sprouts and broccoli and midsummer cabbages.

Doesn’t that sound tasty and all can be sown now together with cucumbers and summer spinach, the latter in a sheltered border with a southern aspect? Here’s a tip if you have a wood-burning stove and you’re sowing onions.

The Big Glut Recipe - March

Leek and greens lasagne


Mouthwatering family-sized lasagne from BBC Good Food Magazine.

Ingredients:

  • 3 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for the tin
  • 50g butter
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Rosemary sprig, leaves picked and roughly chopped
  • 3 leeks, cleaned and rough green ends discarded, 1 finely sliced and 2 cut into medium slices
  • 40g plain flour
  • 500ml milk
  • fresh nutmeg, for grating
  • 100g cheddar, grated
  • 30g parmesan, grated
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • ½ green chilli, sliced
  • 400g mixed green leaves, such as kale, chard and spinach, roughly chopped
  • 100ml dry white wine
  • 100g walnuts
  • 280g jar preserved artichoke hearts in oil, drained
  • 100g ricotta
  • 6 dried lasagne sheets

Monday, 3 February 2020

This Month in Your Garden - February

‘…you have such a February face, so full of frost, of storm and cloudiness?’ ~William Shakespeare


February is a month with much to do about everything. Unless there’s snow or sleet of course. So we take its mixed bag as it comes and get on with digging the soil if it’s not frozen, preparing for hardy annuals and vegetables. If you are driven indoors, use the time to organise your list of seeds what compost you’ll need.

The Lawncare Guide - February

“I said get the roller clean not lay a bowling green.’ 


Generally, it’s unlikely you’ll be cutting the grass in February or at least possibly not until the end of the month, but it pays to be prepared because the growing season is just around the corner. Did you have your garden tractor or mower serviced at the end of last year? It’s worth getting your machinery out, starting up and letting it run just to make sure everything’s tickety-boo.

Lawn Care: Questions & Answers

Q. I want to lay a new lawn in March. How do I know what quantity of seed I need?