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 September 2021

This Month in Your Garden - September

"Happily we bask in this warm September sun, which illuminates all creatures..." - Henry David Thoreau 

There is a certain change of light in early autumn that complements shades of red, burgundy and orange russets. They draw the eye and appear nearer, while cool colours give a more distant, calming effect. Annuals and bedding plants give you an endless palette of colours to work with. But as summer fades into autumn, we edge nearer to the first frosts when tender perennials are at risk. 

The Lawncare Guide - September

The lawn in winter 

There's plenty you can be doing now to give the lawn the best protection over the winter months. Scarifying and aeration are the priorities. Existing lawns will benefit from scarification to lift out dead grass, moss and thatch, using a scarifier attachment on the garden tractor or a walk-behind scarifier. Cut the lawn quite short to begin with and work the scarifier first in one direction and then across the first pass. 

Lawn Care: Questions & Answers

Q. What are the sowing rates for a new lawn? 

The Vegetable Plot - September

Lift and store

All manner of squashes, marrow, pumpkins need proper seasoning before storing them indoors. They should be cut when they are full size and good in colour when they can be laid out in the sunshine for a couple of weeks to harden. 

You can then store them indoors in a frost-free place. If you planted maincrop onions and they are starting to turn yellow at the tips, you can prepare them for lifting by digging a fork under the bulbs, lifting them slightly without breaking the roots. This will loosen them enough for ripening and harvesting later. 

The Big Glut - September

Marrow curry

A vegetarian dish to serve 6 as a spicy side for roast chicken or lamb, from BBC Good Food.


  • 1 marrow, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 2 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seed
  • 1 large onion, finely sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • ½ tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • juice ½ lemon
  • small pack coriander, roughly chopped

Tuesday, 3 August 2021

This Month in Your Garden - August

Summer’s lease hath all too short a date. William Shakespeare.

August is officially the last month of summer and we want to cling to our enjoyment of the garden in the warmth it brings. There is certainly plenty to get on with as we soak up the sun and, at the end of the day, we’re allowed to be languorous as we admire our work. 

The Lawncare Guide - August

Top dressing for a tip-top lawn

Historically, top dressing has been carried out as part of the autumn lawn renovation or in spring so why would we do it in August?. Well, if the lawn has suffered hard wear during the summer and is showing lumps, bumps and stress through drought and hard play, you can treat it to a top dressing. Ideally, you should aerate and scarify first as this helps the dressing key into the surface and get into the soil below.

Lawn Care: Questions & Answers

Q. Our lawn has suffered from drought and the kids playing football and other games on it. What should we do to help it recover?

The Vegetable Plot - August

 Harvest and grow 

There should be plenty to harvest this month. Second early potatoes will be ideal for salads and maincrop potatoes will be ready when the leaves turn yellow. You can store potatoes in hessian sacks which allow ventilation but exclude light. Lift and dry onions, shallots and garlic when the foliage yellows and flops over. Harvest French and runner beans to stop them running to seed.

The Big Glut - August

 Grilled chicken thighs with sweet potato wedges, courgettes and feta


  • 4 free-range skin-on chicken thighs, skin slashed
  • 2 medium-large sweet potatoes, cut into wedges (skin on)
  • 3 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for brushing
  • 2 large courgettes, sliced lengthways into 0.5cm thick strips (or 6-8 baby courgettes, halved)
  • Small bunch basil, leaves picked and roughly chopped, plus extra leaves to serve
  • Small bunch coriander, leaves picked and roughly chopped
  • 30g pine nuts, toasted
  • 1/2 garlic clove
  • 25g parmesan, finely grated
  • Grated zest and juice 1 lemon
  • 80g feta, crumbled

Monday, 5 July 2021

This Month in Your Garden - July

If the first of July be rainy weather, It will rain, more or less, for four weeks together. John Ray, English naturalist

It is easy to get caught out when there has been a fair bit of rain and not water containers and new plants. The question is: did they get enough water from summer showers? Often the answer is no, and you need to give hanging baskets, tubs and the border a good soaking to be safe. 

The Lawncare Guide - July

Aerate to oxygenate

At this time of the year, grass and soil microbes have a high demand for oxygen. It makes sense to aerate using a walk-behind aerator or aerating attachment for the garden tractor. This will help get oxygen to the roots and promote good drainage to avoid a build-up of thatch. Prolonged periods of rain and warmth will also promote growth of course, and there may not be the opportunity to mow before the grass becomes quite high. 

Lawn Care: Questions & Answers

Q How long should I leave the sprinkler running on the lawn, without wasting water?

The Vegetable Plot - July

Success with salads 

Who doesn’t like a good salad straight from the garden? Successional sowings of lettuce, endive and summer spinach will keep the salads coming. As tomatoes swell, they will benefit from a layer of well-rotted compost around the plants if you are growing them outdoors. Feed tomatoes when the first trusses set. 

The Big Glut - July

 Spaghetti with courgette and chilli 

A quick dinner for two which you can serve with a wedge of lemon and Parmesan cheese. From House and Garden


  • 200g (6½oz) spaghetti
  • 2 medium-sized courgettes
  • 2tbsp olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • ½ long red chilli, sliced
  • Extra virgin olive oil, to serve

Wednesday, 2 June 2021

This Month in Your Garden - June

‘Roses are red, violets are blue; But they don’t get around like the dandelions do.’ Slim Acres  

There’s plenty of hoeing in June, especially with a warm start to the month, and you prefer to control weeds without using weedkillers. Manual removal, burning, putting in weed barriers and covering with a mulch such as bark join the hoe in dealing with weed. 

The Lawncare Guide - June

If in drought…

There is nothing a lawn likes better in dry periods or drought than a thorough soaking once or twice a week. The water will thoroughly penetrate the soil and encourage the roots to push down deep. A light sprinkling every day is a waste of your time and precious water. 

Lawn Care: Questions & Answers

Q. How can I be sure of getting the right balance of fertiliser, as in what to apply and when?

The Vegetable Plot - June

After the frosts…

Didn’t we have some cold weather and late frosts in May? Then wet, wet, wet. Even professional growers had a hard time. If your weather watching tells you it is safe, you can plant out tomatoes, runner and French beans, pepper, aubergine and sweet corn. Outdoor tomatoes should have the first flower truss showing before planting out. 

The Big Glut Recipe - June

 Asparagus, egg and potato Caesar salad 


  • 200g sourdough bread
  • 50g grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 large free-range eggs, plus 2 large free-range egg yolks
  • 500g new potatoes
  • 250g asparagus spears
  • 6 anchovy fillets
  • 1 small garlic clove
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 170ml sunflower oil
  • 5 tbsp grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped parsley
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped chives
  • 60g watercress

Tuesday, 4 May 2021

This Month in Your Garden - May

‘It was the outdoor detail–and May is one fine month to be working outdoors.’ Stephen King

There are still some frosts around, so protect tender plants until you are sure the danger passes. May is truly a month to enjoy being in the garden and at the garden centre, stocking up with colour for your borders. You probably won’t plant out bedding until the end of the month, but there are plenty of other pleasurable jobs to get on with. 

The Lawncare Guide - May

We beat weeds into submission

April was, for many places, exceptionally dry, so mowing will need to be done as dictated by the grass growth. If your lawn hasn’t put on much of a spurt, you won’t need to lower the cutting height on your garden tractor or mower just yet. Besides, grass should be mown a little at a time and by aiming to remove a third of the available leaf when you mow you allow the grass time to recover from the cut. 

Lawn Care: Questions & Answers

Q. How often should I feed the lawn with fertilizer? 

The Vegetable Plot - May

Growing, growing, gone!

Growing your own vegetables is not only a pleasure on fine May days, you will also notice family and friends can’t wait to get the flavour of home-grown. Be it simply growing tomatoes in the greenhouse or outside, or a host of different veg in your plot, or even in borders with other plants, the story is the same. 

The Big Glut Recipe - May

One pot salmon with roast asparagus

Refreshingly, serves 2. From BBC Good Food. 


  • 400g new potato, halved if large
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 8 asparagus spears, trimmed and halved
  • 2 handfuls cherry tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 salmon fillets, about 140g/5oz each
  • handful basil leaves

Thursday, 1 April 2021

This Month in Your Garden - April

‘Every spring is the only spring – a perpetual astonishment.’ Ellis Peters

Hardy annuals are among the least expensive ways of creating colourful flower beds or filling gaps in borders and they are easy to grow. Sow them directly into the soil when the ground is warm enough, around 7°C (45°F) and sufficiently dry to rake down to a crumbly and fine tilth. You need no fertiliser because most annuals like poorer soil to produce more flowers. You can create large areas of bold or subtle themes in shades of one colour, or a kaleidoscope of multi-colours. 

The Lawncare Guide - April

A good time to weed and feed

It is quite likely after the first cut of the season your lawn reveals patches of moss that have grown through winter. Poor draining, wet soils, inadequately fertilised soil, areas of shade and compaction can all lead to moss development and spread. Moss reproduces via hundreds and thousands of minuscule spores produced in spring and autumn before the mother plant dies. 

Lawn Care: Questions & Answers

Q.  I have identified yarrow weed in my lawn, how do I treat it? 

The Vegetable Plot - April

And so, to seed

If you have a greenhouse you can start dwarf French beans and pot on for early picking. Sow two seeds to a pot in John Innes No. 1 compost with a little bottom heat if you can. You can either let them grow to maturity in the greenhouse or harden them off to plant out in late May. 

The Big Glut Recipe - April

Tarragon roast chicken with summer greens

From BBC Good Food 


  • 1 lemon
  • large woody sprig of tarragon
  • 1 medium chicken (about 1.4kg)
  • 450g baby potatoes, halved
  • 2 tsp cold-pressed rapeseed oil (about 1.4kg)
  • For the summer greens
  • 1 tsp vegetable bouillon powder
  • 2 leeks, cut into rings (about 300g) 
  • 350g asparagus (250g pack plus 100g pack) ends trimmed, each cut into 4
  • 320g frozen peas
  • 260g bag of young leaf spinach
  • 2 tbsp bio Greek yoghurt
  • 1 tbsp tarragon leaves, chopped

Monday, 1 March 2021

This Month in Your Garden - March

March winds and April showers bring forth May flowers. English proverb.

Spring in the northern hemisphere begins on the 20th of March but for the gardener, it is already well underway. The snowdrops and crocus planted last year are soon accompanied by the bright faces of primrose and daffodils, Muscari, Hyacinth, bluebells and Lily of the Valley. Fruit trees blossom and Fritillary show their ponderous heads, while pansies and polyanthus brighten containers and hanging baskets by the door.

The Lawncare Guide - March

Know your lawn and how to cut it 

With relatively mild weather in our area, the grass had already started into growth in February. This month most areas can expect strong growth and the tendency is to get out and give it a good haircut. But if you have been reading the Gardener’s Journal for a while you will know you need to start with a high cut and gradually lower with successive mowing.

Lawn Care: Questions & Answers

 Q. I’ve been told I should ‘overseed’ in March for a thick, lush grass but that I need to scarify first. Is that correct? 

The Vegetable Plot - March

‘Springtime is the land awakening, the March winds are the morning yawn.’ Lewis Grizzard 

Whatever the weather is doing there’s a host of vegetables you can start sowing indoors in a warm room or in heated propagators. Tomatoes, sweet peppers, chilli peppers and aubergines are high on the list. When the ground warms up you can get going outside by removing over-wintered greens from the vegetable plot. 

Freeze any extra vegetables such as spinach and beans for later. 

The Big Glut Recipe - March

Leek and greens lasagne

By Rosie Birkett for BBC Good Food


  • 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, 1 February 2021

This Month in Your Garden - February

"February is merely as long as is needed to pass the time until March." - Dr. J. R. Stockton

That is perhaps a little unfair on February, with its snowdrops (Galanthus) and daffodils joining primula and primrose in early displays to say spring is not too far away. For many of us, the early month shows some heavy bands of rain, but the dry spells also look as if we will get the usual February mixed bag of extremes from mild to freezing. 

The Lawncare Guide - February

 Go green

Periodically, we delve a little deeper into garden projects rather than just hints and tips. Laying a new lawn is best done in October/November but turfing can be done up to February so long as the ground is not frozen or too wet, assuming you have prepared the area. Buy your turf from a reputable supplier and get the best quality – you will be living with the new lawn in the years to come. 

Lawn Care: Questions & Answers

Q. What advice can you give me on laying a new lawn. I am worried about getting it right using turf and then the best way to look after the lawn. 

The Vegetable Plot - February

 Plan the plot

Crop rotation is as important in the garden as it is in agriculture. Without it, you are susceptible to the increase in soil-living pests and diseases which harm your vegetables. Cropping with the same vegetable in the same area will also leave the soil’s nutrients unbalanced. 

The Big Glut Recipe - February

Smoky bacon and leek risotto

An easy dish from Delicious Magazine serves four. Hands-on time 20 minutes, oven time 20 minutes. 


  • Rapeseed oil for frying
  • Large handful fresh sage leaves
  • 4 smoked streaky bacon rashers, chopped
  • 1 large leek, finely sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 250g arborio risotto rice
  • 150ml dry white wine
  • 750ml hot vegetable stock
  • 80g soft goat’s cheese

Saturday, 2 January 2021

This Month in Your Garden - January

You’ll never plough a field by turning it over in your mind. Old Irish proverb

When we hoped we would put the tribulations of 2020 behind us here we are in a new year of restriction. On the other hand, many have got closer to their gardens and nature in these strange times. 

The January forecast says mild and wet followed by a colder February so rather than just thinking about what we might do in the garden there’s plenty we can get on with as the days lengthen and things start growing. 

The Lawncare Guide - January

If the grass is greener on the other side it’s probably getting better care. Earl Nightingale     

Walking on the lawn when it is frosty will damage the grass. If you walk on it after rain and areas are squelchy underfoot there’s a good chance the lawn needs spiking to alleviate soggy areas which encourage moss and thatch. 

You can do this as soon as the ground dries out a bit using a hollow-tine aerator to remove plugs of soil. It can be the type you push, a self-propelled or an attachment for a garden tractor. 

Lawn Care: Questions & Answers

 Q. Some areas of our lawn are yellow and, looking closely, there are patches of red and black. What causes this?

The Vegetable Plot - January

 A little gem of propagation 

It is not too early to be thinking about the vegetable plot. But while your first sowings will be indoors you can get on and prepare an area for planting later. It’s handy to cover the soil with cloches or thick polythene, weighted down. This will keep the bed dry and warmer while making it easier to work when you’re ready and weather permits. 

The Big Glut Recipe - January

 Game Pie

By Bryn Williams for Delicious Magazine


  • 600g mixed pheasant meat, venison meat and pigeon meat, diced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 celery sticks, chopped
  • 300ml red wine
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 fresh thyme sprig
  • 200-300ml chicken stock, hot

For the pastry

  • 250g unsalted butter
  • 400g plain flour, plus extra to dust
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 large free-range egg yolk
  • Milk, for brushing