You don’t need a small holding, an allotment, or even a garden to grow your own fresh flowers and food these days. Enterprising urban gardeners are making the most of windowsills, balconies and wasteland to grow theirs. City gardeners are growing sustainable food and home-grown flowers, while also making our grey towns greener, more pleasant places to live.
If you are looking for inspiration on how to create your own city garden, here are ten of the best UK urban gardening Instagram accounts to follow.
Seed saving is one of organic farmer, beekeeper and educator, Claire Ratinon’s favourite autumnal past times. Whether she’s sharing her sustainable beekeeping techniques, making immune system boosting elderberry vinegar, or working out what to do with her yuzus, there’s always something of interest for her green-fingered followers.
Ming de Nasty is the artist, photographer and grower behind the Selfie Sufficient Instagram photo project, exploring food growers in the urban environment. She shares others’ experiences as well as her own allotment successes. Learn how to make your own worming bucket, marvel at her nasturtium capers and admire her double red sweetcorn (see image above).
“What seed heads do you leave?”, asks food activist and writer, Sara Venn. She likes to leave her Centurea montana (pictured above) as a winter hangout for friendly insects. This self-confessed “plant nut” is the founder of Incredible Edible Bristol (see below) and a fierce supporter of British-grown flowers. When she’s not running workshops on growing or writing about gardening, she can be found posting stunning images of the natural beauty that is all around us.
Bristolians are taking food production back into their own hands, thanks to the Incredible Edible Bristol project. Spearheaded by Sara Venn (in the previous entry, above), the project’s volunteers have created over 30 edible gardens on station platforms, street corners and curbsides. All food produced is free for locals to take, like the accidental potatoes they recently dug up. Be inspired by their railway planting of “green fertiliser” Phaecelia – it’s great for bees and feeds the soil as it grows.
Arts journalist and self-taught urban gardener, Alice Vincent, gardens 60ft up on a wind-swept London balcony. She writes a regular column for The Telegraph and shares her green wisdom via her beautiful Instagram feed. Never planted a bulb? Let Alice show you where to start. Want the lowdown on easy-grow winter salads? Here’s where to go. She’ll even teach you how to grow your own cocktails! Growing tips for urban gardeners nestle among snaps of the botanical gardens she visits on her travels around the globe.
“Changing the food system one carrot at a time” is the motto of Hackney-based real food scheme, Growing Communities. Their Instagram feed showcases the produce from farms in and around East London and gives followers great recipe advice, like aubergine and tofu soba noodles. If you’re not sure what to do with your kohlrabi or need some inspiration for your beetroot glut, this instafeed is just what you’re looking for.
GrowUp is the UK’s first aquaponic vertical urban farm. Aqua-who? If you haven’t come across them on BBC’s Countryfile, these guys produce sustainable fish and, using the fish poo and vertical techniques, grow sustainable greens – all in a London industrial unit. Their aim is to revolutionise the way food is grown in our cities. If you want micro radish, baby kale and sunflower shoots on your menu, follow GrowUp for some inspiration.
Farm Urban is another vertical farm; this time in the heart of Liverpool. Founded by a team of bio-scientists, Farm Urban work alongside schools, allotmenteers, residents’ associations and other urban collectives to encourage sustainable living. If you want to find out more about this revolutionary urban farming method, check out their instafeed. They are also on hand to answer your growing questions. Such as why your tomato plants have root primordia and what to do about it.
Cultivate London has transformed multiple derelict sites in West London into urban farmland, training young people in horticulture and changing the way Londoners think about food growing. Check out their mini pumpkin paradise, get the taste for their nasturtium hot sauce and be inspired about what can be done with a hard work and a whole lot of determination.
Urban smallholder and author, Geoff Wakeling, is living the self-sufficient dream on a small scale from his Essex back garden. With chickens, quail and some splendid veg to boast of, he certainly grows a mean Sunday roast. Follow his experiments in growing microgreens, check out his sweet chocolate peppers and meet his funny, fluffy poland hens.