Food delivered straight from plot to plate is the freshest, healthiest and most delicious food you’ll ever eat. With an allotment, veg patch, or even just a couple of window boxes, you can grow your own meals and live your version of the good life.
Whether you’re just starting out, or a seasoned plot-to-plater, here are eleven excellent Instagrammers you’ll want to follow.
Radishes thrive anywhere from your window sill to planters and vegetable beds. But did you know you can also eat radish seed pods? Tom and Kathy of @the_seasonal_table say: “Picked while they are green and not yet beginning to dry and harden, the pods add a crisp, slightly peppery bite to salads or stir-fries.”
A herb garden is a wonderful way to start gardening, and it’s something you can do even if you have no garden at all. Here Tom and Kathy have come up with an excellent way to preserve your herb harvest to use later – make it into a garden herb seasoning salt for all year round use. Hmm, you can almost smell the aroma.
@locallyseasonal shares how you can grow your own oyster mushrooms Image: Africa_Studio/Shutterstock
Have you ever wished you could grow your own delicious oyster mushrooms? It’s 18 months since GB, the allotmenteer behind @locallyseasonal hammered some spore-impregnated dowels into some logs. She says, “It’s been an impatient wait ever since. So very worth it though!” We think you’ll agree, they look scrumptious.
@locallyseasonal is, as her Instagram tag suggests, all about growing and eating seasonal produce. Ready to try your hand at jam making? GB’s raspberry glut has been put to excellent use: “It’ll be worth the effort in winter when I can open one of these jars and taste summer.”
An aubergine harvest calls for a garden-inspired aubergine parmigiana – it’s the perfect way to use onions, garlic, tomatoes and homegrown herbs. As Ade of @agentsoffield says, “I would like to take this moment to thank the kitchen garden for providing most of the ingredients. Without you, it would have simply been hot cheese.”
Ade and Sophie, the couple behind @agentsoffield, say they’re veggie adventurers in their own kitchen garden and love to share images of their produce, cooking and more via their Instagram feed. More shallots than you can eat right now? Pickle them.
This scrummy seasonal pudding will get your taste buds tingling Image: abimages/Shutterstock
Straight from the kitchen at @rivercottagehq, their Apple & Blackberry Pie features in the Gluten-Free cookbook and is the perfect way to get the best from your autumn harvest of garden apples and hedgerow blackberries.
Home of the legendary Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall, this is the place to find all the latest pics of produce and wonderfully creative recipe ideas from Hugh and the team. Fantastic tomatoes? Try making this awesome pizza.
What better way to enjoy a juicy topping on your muesli than by picking your own succulent raspberries to sprinkle on top? Join Katie of @lavenderandleeks on her allotment where she grows a wonderful selection of fruit, vegetables and beautiful flowers.
In fact, as allotments go this must be one of the most picturesque we’ve ever seen. From the loveliest purple sprouting broccoli to bunches of the most dazzling dahlias, if there’s one thing Katie knows how to do, it’s to wow your senses with images of the fruit, veg and blooms she grows herself.
Imagine the tang of piccalilli fused with the warmth of a winter soup and you’re on your way to imagining just how tasty Kate’s cauliflower and mustard soup is. Add a sprinkle of cheddar cheese and we think you’ll agree this is a great way to put your garnered produce to the best of uses.
@a_countrylife is curated by “gardener, cook, writer, hobby farmer and lover of the great outdoors” – Kate from Norfolk. Here you’ll discover awesome pics of big Norfolk skies, fabulous produce and, for those with a sweet tooth, some of the most innovative flavours for home made ice cream that we’ve ever come across…
“They’ve got some decent girth and a few more flowers are still appearing,” says Sam @the_hairy_horticulturist! He’s talking about his horned melons – incredible fruits that look like something from a Harry Potter film.
Sam says he’s all about fruit, veg and herbs, providing info and education which sometimes involves filming wildlife – and beard growing of course. Wondering how to make your watermelons sweeter? Slow down the watering in the final weeks, says Sam.
Katie’s no-bake fig, honey and walnut tarts make great use of these delicious fruits Image: @themarmaladeteapot
What better way to use up windfall pears than by baking a delicious pear tarte tatin? With this easy-to-follow demonstration courtesy of grower and cook, Katie at @themarmaladeteapot, you’ll be sitting down to enjoy this wonderful French pudding with a generous dollop of vanilla ice cream in no time.
For those who lack a sweet tooth, we recommend you try this tasty looking courgette galette. Katie says it combines “fresh flavours of lemon & courgette cut through with pungent garlic & chive, all held together with a smooth, creamy cheese filling & crumbly wholemeal crust.” Does it get any better than that?
“Nothing complicated,” says Italian-Yorkshire grower, Kuki at @a_little_garden. “I basically stuffed the squash with leftovers: at the bottom mashed potatoes, followed by a layer of risotto and topped with mozzarella.”
This instagram feed charts the gardening and cooking adventures of Kuki and Fedu who started out with a lawned back garden, and transformed it into a grow-your-own paradise. Here you’ll find loads of fine produce which finds an Italian flavour once it makes it to the kitchen. Fried sage leaves anyone? They’re an Italian delicacy.
Add summer zest to your mixed herbs with a sprinkling of calendula Image: @gardenplot.57
Calendula is easy to grow and is busting with antioxidant compounds, says organic gardener Carla of @gardenplot.57. To use it fresh, just pluck the petals from the flower base and sprinkle them over scrambled eggs, salads, frittatas and salsas. For a taste of sunshine all year round, Carla says “try drying the flowers and adding the petals to a homegrown herb mix.”
From her plot in Cornwall, Carla brings you fresh produce plus wonderfully fragrant homemade herbal lotions and potions. You’ll love her lavender and dandelion salves – they’re simple and satisfying to make, and far better than shop-bought alternatives.
With a glut of seasonal produce, it’s tempting to simply bag it and freeze it. But making traditional conserves, preserves, piccalillis, and chutneys is well worth the effort. Wondering what to do with all those cherry tomatoes? Capture their intense flavour by drying them, says Monika at @monikabrzoza.
From her Essex allotment, Monika’s posts celebrate the sheer colour of harvest time. Check out the greens, oranges and golden yellows of this year’s squash harvest. This Instagrammer offers a virtual feast for the eyes, as well as the taste buds.
We hope you’ve been inspired to get more from your plot onto your plate. If you post any of your homegrown meals on Instagram, we’d love you to share them with us.
Beginner or experienced veg grower? Sharing tips helps produce bumper crops Image: Shutterstock
Food you grow yourself is fresh, healthy, and nutritious, but if you’re new to gardening, it’s not always easy to know where to start. If you’re wondering whether you have the space or the knowhow to grow your own, here’s the inspiration you need. And if you’re looking for new fruit and veg to try, or you’re not sure what went wrong with a recent crop, try following some of these helpful grow-your-own blogs….
Gardening is a great bonding opportunity Image source: Shutterstock
What better way to get your kids excited and interested in the garden than inviting them to get their hands dirty? To help you pique their interest in all things green-fingered we’ve ploughed the internet for some great ideas to get your kids outdoors and digging.
The Outdoor Dad
Oli and Sonny don’t let cold weather stand in the way of their adventures Image source: The Outdoor Dad
Does your toddler love to copy your every move? Two-year-old Sonny has a great time helping his dad, Oli of The Outdoor Dad, brush leaves in the garden. Oli and Sonny also have an awesome time bug hunting, looking for birds’ nests and building dens.
An ambassador for getting muddy, first time dad Oli shares his passion for adventure in the garden and beyond. He says, ‘there’s so much to see in the big wide world that I want him to get started early.’ Check out his 101 outdoor activities for families, for ideas like building a compost heap or giving geocaching a try.
Little ones chomping at the bit to get into the garden will love Gardening with Willow, the Youtube gardening show with the world’s youngest presenter. When your kids watch Willow harvest runner beans and plant mushrooms they’re bound to want to have a go too.
A journey ‘towards a greener, cheaper lifestyle,’ The Newhouse Family Blog details the family’s quest to turn their garden into a sustainable paradise. Even if you only have a patio or balcony, you can still teach your kids eco-friendly gardening. Check out this family-friendly guide to organic growing to find out how.
Join Claire and her toddlers over on The Ladybird’s Adventures as they make bird feeders, butterfly biomes, and bug hotels in their back garden. Passionate about ‘learning through play and encouraging creativity,’ Claire also buys her kids their own mini tools, lets them choose their own seeds, and encourages them to keep a journal to track seedling growth.
Check out the rest of Claire’s tips and tricks for budding gardeners to encourage young children to engage with the garden. You’ll love the scavenger hunts she’s designed for you and your family to use.
Pairs of outgrown wellies kicking around the house? Get your kids growing boot-loads of herbs by turning them into planters. That’s just one of Lucy of Kids of the Wild’s creative outdoor gardening activities – she and her daughter Caroline also show you how to grow a willow den, dig a pond, and create wildlife havens.
A go-to resource for all things wild, Lucy’s passion for the outdoors helps spread the message that nature is transformative – a lesson she learned when Caroline was battling cancer. As she says, you and your family will benefit from getting outdoors, ‘even if you think you don’t have time.’
If you’re looking for a family project to get everyone outdoors, why not enlist the kids’ help to create a wildlife pond? Professional garden designer Rajul Shah shares step-by-step instructions over at her blog, The Small Gardener. Her top tip? Design a shallow, sloping ‘beach’ at the front so wildlife can enjoy a drink or bath without falling in.
Rajul’s own garden is a wildlife-friendly space. There are natural play areas where her children can hide, a fruit and vegetable patch, and a studio where she works. Kids will love her family-friendly projects like this hedgehog hotel too. Made using simple household objects, it’s a brilliant way to occupy a quiet afternoon.
Let your kids sow and grow their own plants from seed to harvest, says Lauren of Inspire Create Educate. That’s because there’s no better way of getting children to fall in love with gardening and the environment, than by putting them right at the heart of the growing cycle.
Green-living guru Lauren’s blog is a handbook for living sustainably with kids – and garden activities are key. Here you’ll find all you need to teach your little ones about ecosystems. Looking for something for impatient kids to do while they’re waiting for their seedlings to grow? Easy, Lauren says. Get them to dig a big muddy hole.
Even small hands can get to grips with garden tasks Image source: Mummy Matters
Teach your kids to grow plants even when there’s no outside space by using Sabina at Mummy Matters’ guide to growing indoors. She proves you can turn those little fingers green even if you can’t access a garden, with tips on what thrives in tight spaces, and even without sunlight.
Find out how to grow veg, herbs, and make personalised pots with your kids’ names on, and more. And when sometimes enthusiasm just isn’t enough to get the little ones excited about gardening, why not get your kids to plant seedlings? As Sabina says, “they’ll grow much faster and the reward will come much sooner”.
“Children make very natural gardeners in my experience,” says Catherine over at Growing Family. “They love hands-on activities, they’re curious about nature and the world around them, and they generally relish the opportunity to get grubby!”
You’ll never run out of ways to entice kids out into the fresh air once you’ve bookmarked Catherine’s Growing Family. With easy-to-grow veg, homemade bird feeders and loads more, there’s something for everyone. Fussy eater? Few children could resist tasting a vegetable that has their name on it! Here’s how to grow your name in a courgette this summer. For quick ideas that fit around busy family life, Growing Family is the place to be.
We’re sure you can’t wait to pull your wellies on and get your little ones’ hands dirty in the garden. Let us know what inspires you to move playtime outdoors by heading over to our Facebook page and dropping us a line.
Looking for something new to try in your garden next year? Image: Shelli Jensen
This spring, we asked five of our favourite garden bloggers if they were planning anything new and exciting over the summer. Their responses varied from experiments with onions to enticing a hedgehog into their garden, and more.
Now it’s autumn, we’re intrigued to see how they got on. If you’re hunting for new ideas for your garden, there’s plenty of hindsight here to help you get it right first time. You may even be inspired to run your own controlled experiment next year…
Bunches of onions
Planting in bunches saves space but produces a slightly smaller onion Image: Mark’s Veg Plot
Other sets were planted in clumps, each containing 6 – 7 onions
He used the Ailsa Craig variety for both planting methods to see which yielded the best result. None of the onions got off to a great start, Mark says, but once the weather finally improved at the beginning of June, they soon got going. As expected, the clumped onions produced smaller veg but, according to Mark, the overall yield was about the same.
So – pleased or not? It turns out Mark is very satisfied with the outcome of his experiment: “We like to have onions of lots of different sizes for use in our kitchen. The small ones are particularly attractive since you seldom see ones like this in the shops.”
This summer “I will be growing as much food as I can for my family and visiting wildlife,” said Sally of Sally’s Garden Blog. So how did she do?
“I’ve been really quite happy with the amount of veg I’ve produced…I love eating salad with a meal, so [I grew] lots of fast cropping salads, and quite a lot of coriander.” Then there’s the basil and spinach plus six different types of tomatoes this year… According to Sally the tomatoes have been slow to ripen, but it’s great that she hasn’t had to buy any for over a month now. And you must try Sally’s favourite breakfast tip – toast, marmite and sliced tomato…
All in all a good summer for produce then; but how did things go on the wildlife nurturing front? Sally says:
“Our garden has literally been full of bees, moths, butterflies, birds and we finally have a hedgehog! We have had a lot of fledgling robins, sparrows and bluetits in the garden… it is joyous just sitting and listening to them all.”
For Sally the highlights of the summer were her crunchy Trombamico courgettes, and her Black Beauty Dahlias – her favourite plant. “I truly think it is the most beautiful flower I have ever grown. It is so simple in its form, and dainty, and the colour of the petals when they first come out is really almost black.”
Nic is aiming to attract house sparrows – a red-list species of high conservation concern Image: Erni
“Adding holes in the fences and a gate for hedgehogs,” was how Nic at Dogwooddays hoped to encourage some of these special creatures to take up residence on her patch. Sadly, despite her best efforts, none have turned up to fill the vacancy yet – a bit of a tragedy given how close to extinction our prickly friends are, here in the UK.**
Things weren’t all bad though, with Nic recording success on the bird front with blue tits nesting in one bird box and and white-tailed bumblebees taking over the sparrow box. Despite a blackbird nesting in the honeysuckle, Nic says, “the sparrows haven’t nested in the terraces yet, but it’s early days and they have started to visit the garden regularly.”
If you’d like to encourage wildlife to your garden, the key, she says, is to let parts of your plot go wild: “leave bushes overgrown for nesting birds, plant climbers as habitat for invertebrates and birds, leave piles of grass, leaves, logs and stones for the hedgehogs, and ensure that creatures can get in and out of the garden.”
Bird boxes, hedgehog houses and bird feeders are all fine ways to attract wild creatures, but as Nic explains – good natural habitats for wildlife are just as important.
** Nic has just reported some good news on the hedgehog front! They’ve found hedgehog droppings on the path and outside their back door so they’re investing in a trail cam to keep an eye on these most welcome nocturnal visitors. The holes in the fences have clearly worked. We’re delighted to hear it!
Richard found his poorest, driest soil was most successful for chickpeas Image: Jose Luis Vega
One plant went into good soil in his home greenhouse – it died.
Two plants went into heavy clay at his allotment – one died and one survived.
Two plants went into his allotment greenhouse where the soil is poor and rather dry – these survived and prospered.
This year, Richard harvested about 100g of dried chickpeas, but next year he plans to plant a lot more saying, “Overall I found these plants to be quite attractive, growing to about 2 foot high with a fern like appearance. Very easy to look after, just a little bit of watering as they seem to like dry conditions.”
If chickpeas were a mixed bag, Richard’s vegpod was a great success. He says there was no weeding required and the built-in reservoir made watering a cinch. “What this means is that we have not had to buy in any salads at all this year as it’s all been grown in the pod.”
The ‘three sisters’ method for sweetcorn, runner beans and pumpkin is a work in progress Image: Hurtled to 60
Over at the excellent gardening blog, Hurtled to 60, Ronnie’s plan was to set up the makings of a festive feast in a special ‘Christmas lunch bed’. So how did this work out? “My ‘Christmas Lunch’ bed idea was a little ambitious with the veg peaking too soon…” says Ronnie. Unfortunately the parsnips, a vital part of any Christmas dinner, failed completely. Planting them along with radishes didn’t work. Although it produced excellent radishes, there were no parsnips at all.
What other lessons did Ronnie learn this summer? She also tried the ‘three sisters’ planting method for pumpkins, runner beans and sweet corn. She didn’t quite get it right this year, but she’ll let the sweetcorn get better established next time, before planting the beans.
That said, she chalked up some fantastic successes in other parts of the garden. Her ‘no-dig’ potatoes – International Kidney (Jersey Royal) and Charlotte – tasted fabulous. Her garden peas proved another hit with the heritage ‘Champion of England’ variety providing an excellent harvest.
But the real star of the allotment for Ronnie, this summer, were flowers. Including roses, gaura, salvias, larkspur, day lilies and cosmos, Ronnie says her bed “has drawn a lot of admiring comments and is somewhere to sit with a cup of coffee between doing a spot of gardening.” With such a lovely place to relax and ponder, no wonder Ronnie is already full of plans for next year – including merging her narrow beds into larger, more productive ones.
It’s great to see our favourite green fingered gardening writers and broadcasters prospering in their patches and we’d like to thank them all for taking the time to update us on their progress. If you’ve got a favourite gardening or allotment blog you’d like us to feature, why not drop us a line? We’d love to hear from you.
Calathea orbifolia – This Bolivian native has elegant silver and green stripes on gorgeous rounded leaves, creating a textural, corrugated appearance.
Monstera deliciosa – Instantly recognisable, the ‘Swiss Cheese’ plant has lustrous, heart-shaped leaves. This climber plant is happiest trained onto a moss pole.
Ficus elastica ‘Robusta’ – The rubber plant’s large, dark green leaves are beautifully glossy, with paler undersides. Over time, this plant will form a stunning indoor tree.
Chlorophytum comosum ‘Variegatum’ – The soft structural leaves of the spider plant brighten up any room, and help to keep air clean.
Take part in our Rafflecopter competition below by entering your email address to subscribe to the T&M mailing list, and let us know your favourite house plant (it doesn’t need to be one of these). You’ll also have the chance to share the competition for more entries.
We’ll choose two winners at random and announce them on Monday 30th September. The closing date is midnight on Sunday 29th September.