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, 30 May 2022

This Month in Your Garden - June

‘June brings tulips, lilies, roses, fills the children’s hands with posies...’– Sara Coleridge 

A warm and sunny patch in the garden that is not serving any other purpose will make a great place to plant up to attract pollinators. Filled with Salvia, Verbena, Geranium, Allium, Thyme, the choice is yours from a host of plants that attract the honeybees and the entertaining hover flies. 

The Lawncare Guide - June

A weed is a plant growing in the wrong place 

The long range UK weather forecast tells us we could be in for a fair bit of rain throughout June (as it stands at the moment) and the month will get progressively warmer. So, while that encourages the grass to grow, the weeds in the lawn can also proliferate. A weed may be defined simply as a plant growing out of place or where it’s not wanted, but to the proud lawn owner, it’s undesirable and needs to be eradicated.

Lawn Care: Questions & Answers

Q. I know I need to use fertiliser on my lawn but when should I spread it and what type should I use?

The Vegetable Plot - June

Organic matters

A well prepared vegetable bed with lots of organic matter dug in is all you need to plant out celery, celeriac and outdoor ridge cucumbers early this month. The organic matter helps to retain water as well as supplying nutrients. You may have already started earlier in the season by sowing most of your brassicas, but you can still sow turnips, kohl rabi and calabrese now for an autumn crop. And sowing is what you can do a lot of in June if you want a bumper vegetable harvest. 

The Big Glut - June

Broad bean spaghetti with Pecorino 

Use those fresh broad beans. Recipe from House & Garden. 

Ingredients

  • 1kg broad beans (weight in pods)
  • 450g spaghetti
  • 50g butter
  • 75g pecorino, grated

Tuesday, 3 May 2022

This Month in Your Garden - May

May, more than any month of the year wants us to feel most alive. Fennel Hudson

Step back to the time of the Roman Republic at the beginning of May and you would find the Floralia or Festival of Flora, who was the Roman goddess of flowers. The tradition has found its way down the centuries to our May Day, a fitting public holiday for many and a celebration of the beginning of summer.

The Lawncare Guide - May

The green, green grass of home 

It has been pretty dry for a while in many areas, so leaving the grass cut a little higher will help it through drier spells. It creates a barrier against sun and wind. Otherwise you will probably be cutting at least once a week or as the grass growth dictates and gradually lowering the cutting height to the desired summer cut.

Lawn Care: Questions & Answers

Q. We have small, circular reddish brown spots on the lawn. This happened last year as well, but disappeared in the autumn. Now it’s back. 

The Vegetable Plot - May

Succession for success

You can have a continual supply of lettuce, carrots and onions from spring until autumn and even beyond with succession sowing. By staggering crop propagation, you can extend the harvest season and it need not be complicated, but does require a bit of planning. 

The Big Glut - May

Asparagus and quinoa salad with peas and broad beans

This Delicious Magazine vegan recipe is from Gill Meller’s cookbook, ROOT STEM LEAF FLOWER. 

Ingredients

  • 12-16 asparagus spears
  • 500g broad beans, podded
  • 150g quinoa, rinsed
  • 300g peas, podded if fresh, or frozen
  • 6-8 spring onions, trimmed and sliced into 1cm pieces
  • Small handful chives, finely chopped (plus chive flowers to garnish if you can find them)
  • Small handful each flatleaf parsley and mint leaves, finely chopped, plus a few whole leaves to garnish
  • Handful lovage or parsley leaves, picked and finely chopped, plus a few left whole to garnish
  • A few fennel tops (optional)
  • Squeeze of lemon

Friday, 1 April 2022

This Month in Your Garden - April

‘Flowers are restful to look at. They have neither emotions nor conflicts.’ Sigmund Freud

Weather-wise, April looks like a mixed bag, so a degree of caution is needed when planting out. The warm, sunny days of the last week of March have given way to a cooler start to the month in most parts, so beware late frosts and protect susceptible plants with cloches or horticultural fleece. Spring brings inspiration and now we can paint the garden with colour. Early sown hardy annuals can be planted out along with herbaceous perennials such as geraniums and oriental poppies. 

The Lawncare Guide - April

My neighbour asked if he could use my lawnmower and I told him of course he could, so long as he didn’t take it out of my garden.’ – Eric Morecambe

Mowing is going to be more frequent from now as rain and warmth promote growth and the aim is to maintain a constant height through the rest of the year. The lawn will be healthier with the right height of cut, ideally taking no more than a third off in any one mowing. You will have, of course, gradually reduced the height with successive cuts since the first mowing of the season. 

Lawn Care: Questions & Answers

Q. We want to sow a new lawn. When is the best time to do this? 

The Vegetable Plot - April

‘Life begins the day you start a garden.’ Chinese proverb.

Watching your vegetable garden come to life by simply sowing seeds is a joy. Eating the vegetables you have grown yourself straight out of the ground is, literally, sensational. So, get sowing this month.

The Big Glut - April

Rhubarb crumble

What could be simpler than Gregg Wallace’s rhubarb crumble for BBC Good Food?

Ingredients:

  • 500g rhubarb, chopped into chunks the length of your thumb
  • 100g golden caster sugar
  • 3 tbsp port (optional)
For the crumble topping
  • 140g self-raising flour
  • 85g butter, chilled
  • 50g light brown muscovado sugar
  • 50g chopped walnuts (optional)

Monday, 28 February 2022

This Month in Your Garden - March

‘Never yet was a springtime, when the buds forgot to bloom.’ Margaret Elizabeth Sangster 

About ten days ago, Iris Reticulata (dwarf Iris) splashed colour between small evergreen shrubs. Little early heralds of spring in a new border we created last September. They have been joined by Narcissus 'Tête-à-tête' and their taller cousins as the snowdrops fade and the pink buds of Prunus incisa Kojo-no-mai open to reveal their delicate white flowers and pink centres. After the storms and rain we are really beginning to feel the garden calling. 

The Lawncare Guide - March

How to cut the grass 

This is the month when the grass starts growing strongly and needs regular mowing. Now you might ask why you should be told how to cut grass. Well, it’s not just as simple as lowering the height with each successive cut, although of course that’s a part of it. Grass needs mowing a little at a time and, depending on the type of grass and its different uses, at different frequencies. 

Lawn Care: Questions & Answers

Q. I’ve been told that as grass grows it makes the soil more acidic which slows growth and can lead to disease. Is this true and what can I do about it?

The Vegetable Plot - March

 Let the show go on 

Whilst you can start sowing seeds for growing many vegetables this month it’s worth checking the soil temperature in colder regions. For outdoor spring-sown crops you need a temperature of 7C (45F).  If the soil is colder, wait until later in the month for it to warm up. 

The Big Glut - March

Leek Gratin with Gruyere 

Serves 6 and uses those leeks from the garden, or bought if you like. Great after a good walk.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 to 4 leeks
  • 20g (¾oz) butter, plus extra for greasing
  • 200ml (3½fl oz) chicken or vegetable stock
  • 200ml (3½fl oz) double cream
  • 125g (4½oz) grated Gruyére
  • Optional herbs thyme or finely chopped rosemary

Tuesday, 1 February 2022

This Month in Your Garden - February

“If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant.” Anne Bradstreet

The north-south weather divide looks set to continue, though the weather watchers’ forecasts vary in their extremes. Well, it is February and as gardeners we can expect winter’s last gasps to have us scurrying back indoors or into the haven of the heated greenhouse. There, or using a cold frame, you can be sowing a colourful variety of flowers and crops for later in the year, for borders, baskets and containers. 

The Lawncare Guide - February

Breaking new ground

If the weather permits and it’s not too wet, now is a good time to create a new lawn by laying turf on prepared ground. This will be an area that has been dug over, made weed free and levelled, ready to accept the turves. Ideally, you need a month between preparing the ground and laying the turf. The cleared area should drained if necessary. 

Lawn Care: Questions & Answers

Q. Can I seed a lawn in February and if so, what happens if it freezes?

The Vegetable Plot - February

Roots, brassicas and others in Sprout-kale

Our Anglo-Saxon ancestors named February ‘Sprout-kale’ since cabbages and kale were about the only edible vegetables showing signs of life. Nowadays of course we can get what we want all year round, but at a cost to the planet. 

Alternatively, even in a small plot, we can grow our own and nothing beats fresh veg straight from the garden. It’s important though, to keep the soil’s nutrients balanced by not cropping the same vegetable in the same place every time. You also want to avoid increasing soil-living pests and diseases. So, we do what the farmers do and rotate our vegetable crop and the easy way to do this is to create a chart.

The Big Glut - February

Cauliflower steaks with caper butter and parsley breadcrumbs

This vegetarian dish by Three Girls Cook for Delicious Magazine will serve 8 as a main course when accompanied by a grain salad. 

Ingredients

  • 2 medium cauliflowers, large outer leaves removed, small inner leaves left on
  • 200ml olive oil
  • 300g butter, cubed
  • 200g dried breadcrumbs
  • Large bunch fresh flatleaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 8 tbsp capers, drained and roughly chopped

Tuesday, 4 January 2022

This Month in Your Garden - January

‘The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The second best time is now.’ - Chinese proverb.

January is right in the middle of the dormant season and a time when you can plant bare-rooted deciduous trees and shrubs. Most importantly, by planting a tree, you are creating a positive impact on the environment. 

The Lawncare Guide - January

Winter warmers

There are a few lawn jobs you can do that will keep you warm if you still want to be outside in the fresh air. Lawn edges can be tidied up using a half-moon tool or edging shears. You can adjust turf levels by cutting and peeling back the grass and adding soil underneath, using soil that is similar to what exists.

Lawn Care: Questions & Answers

Q. A friend identified red thread in our lawn last autumn. Is it too late to do anything about it?

The Vegetable Plot - January

Menus and manure

Digging over plots you haven’t dug in autumn and working in lots of manure gets the gardening year off to a good start. Make a crop rotation plan for what you would like to see on the menu in the coming months. Crops in season in January include Jerusalem artichoke, Brussels sprouts, celery, broccoli, leek, parsnips, cauliflower, turnips, kale, spinach and Savoy cabbage.

The Big Glut - January

Curried lentil soup with kale and almond topping

A winter warmer for 4 that’s vegan too, from Delicious Magazine

Ingredients

  • 2 splashes vegetable oil
  • 300g red lentils
  • 3-4 tbsp korma curry paste
  • 1.2 litres hot vegetable stock (check it’s vegan if necessary)
  • 1 onion, cut into wedges
  • 100g kale, shredded
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 40g blanched almonds, chopped
  • 2 tbsp dried curry leaves (optional)
  • 4 tbsp dairy-free unsweetened coconut yoghurt, 1 sliced red chilli and fresh coriander to serve