10 awesome allotment blogs

Check out these awesome allotmenteers
Image: shutterstock

There’s an allotment revival going on at the moment. And it’s no wonder. Growing your own helps you eat better and cheaper, get fit, and spend quality time outdoors with friends and family.

If you fancy grabbing a piece of the ‘good life’ for yourself, then have a nose through these awesome allotment blogs. With practical how-tos, delicious homegrown recipes and inspirational pictures, they’ll make an allotmenteer of you yet.

Veg Plotting

veg plotting's home grown figs

Homegrown figs queuing up to feature in Michelle’s figgy cheese tart
Image: Veg Plotting

Ever wondered if you should break the rules when it comes to bulbs or asked yourself how to deal with ‘June drop’? Michelle, the green fingers behind Veg Plotting, has all the answers. This allotmenteer and ‘subversive soprano’ from Wiltshire has been tending her plot since 2003, when her husband’s illness inspired her to grow good, honest fayre for her family.

Fifteen years on, Michelle grows pretty much everything. Veg Plotting is a wonderful mix of advice, inspiration and humour. You’ll find a wealth of tutorials and some magnificent recipes including allotment soup and figgy cheese tart.

Our Plot at Green Lane Allotments

The berries are in at Green Lane allotments!
Image: Green Lane Allotments

It all started in the ‘80s with a single plot on a West Yorkshire allotment. As growing went out of fashion and neighbouring plots became vacant and overgrown, Sue and her husband took another plot, then another, and so on, until they ended up with five!

Sue is now the oracle on all things allotment-based. She generously shares growing techniques and top tips with her readership; such as why you should always leave slug-nibbled berries on the plant. Plus there are garden sudokus for rainy days and ‘young seedlings’ ideas to get the children hooked on growing.

Flighty’s plot

Flighty is pleased as Punch with his Polka Dot cornflowers
Image: Flighty’s Plot

Flighty’s Plot is tended by Mike: ‘allotmenteer, armchair gardener, blogger and sofa flyer’. Mike took over his allotment in 2007 and instantly fell in love with growing, getting to know the local wildlife and regular chat with fellow plot holders. Indeed, reading Flighty’s Plot feels a lot like chatting to an old friend.

Let Mike keep you up to date with the progress of this season’s crops and his close encounters with Foxy. When he’s not tending his allotment, Mike can be found on the sofa with a good book and a nice cup of tea. Our kind of chap.

Living on one acre or less

Photo of Udo from Living on one acre or less

Sally’s blog is the place to go for unusual produce
Image: Living on one acre or less

You don’t see udo very often in the UK,” says Sally Morgan. This huge Asian ‘vegetable’ is strikingly ornamental and has medicinal properties. If you’re fascinated by unusual produce or dream of living the good life on a modestly-sized smallholding, Sally Morgan’s blog, Living on one acre or less, is a brilliant resource.

Looking for organic crops to sow and harvest in 60 days? Sally has the ideal way to get your plot off to a flying start. Whether it’s “no-dig”, peat-free or “deep mulching,” she generously shares her own successes and failures along with plenty of tips. Sally writes about what she’s growing, the animals she keeps and different techniques to try. And with a Natural Sciences degree from Cambridge, it’s no surprise that Sally likes to experiment with different methods.

Agents of Field

agents of field's jam

Follow these beauties as they journey from allotment to breakfast table
Image: Agents of Field

Sophie and Ade are the Agents of Field and their mission is to save the Earth ‘one forkful at a time’. Their superpowers are sustainability, thriftiness and some very green fingers. And with twenty years of film and TV production between them, their blog is bursting with beautiful images and witty words.

So dive in and let horticulturalist Ade show you how to battle aphid invasions and upcycle just about any old rubbish into vital equipment for the allotment. Then settle down and discover how chef Sophie transforms both crops and weeds into mouthwatering meals. Nettle pesto, anyone?

Sharpen Your Spades

peas from sharpen your spades

Richard’s Blauwschokker peas are thriving in his no-dig allotment 
Image: Sharpen Your Spades

Richard Chivers is the man behind Sharpen Your Spades. His early growing career was a tempestuous one as he hurtled from one short-lived allotment fling to the next. But in 2015 he settled down with the plot of his life and hasn’t looked back since.

In his blog you’ll find a wealth of goodies from an allotment diary – a record of the frustrations and successes of organic growing – to comprehensive growing guides. Having sharpened his spade in the past, Richard has recently hung it up in favour of the no-dig gardening technique. Intriguing, huh?

The Event Gardener

Freshly harvested asparagus

Sandra enjoys growing tasty & more unusual varieties in her garden
Image: The Event Gardener

Every gardener nurtures their crops, but The Event Gardener’s Sandra Lawrence takes this to another level. Less concerned with high yield than taste and quality, Sandra delights in cultivating varieties that are expensive or hard to find in shops. Each crop’s arrival is celebrated with special meals, parties with friends, and new recipes.

How many packets of seeds do you have that you meant to sow but just didn’t get around to? Sandra’s top tip for finding out if they’re viable is to test on a dinner plate with some kitchen roll, clingfilm, moisture and a little patience. And if fruit trees hold more interest than veg seeds for you, Sandra has some top advice on how to transform the humble apple into the main event.

Sally Nex

Sally’s blog is full of tried-and-tested advice for gardeners
Image: Sally Nex

With over 20-years experience of vegetable growing, Sally Nex is a garden writer and the green fingers behind this recently restarted blog. Her own 250 square metre plot feeds her family all year round, and she loves experimenting with new crops as well as heritage varieties.

Sally’s simple vegetable plot tips for complete beginners will set you up for success. She’s also a keen advocate of gardening without plastic, and shares some great ideas about different alternatives, such as the pros and cons of wooden seed trays. Of course, you’ll need compost, too – ‘how to make a compost bin‘ is a fantastic guide to making the only system you’ll ever need – from scratch!

Horticultural ‘obbit

gooseberries from the horticultural hobbit

These gooseberries will soon be simmering with ginger, turmeric and spices
Image: Horticultural Hobbit

‘You won’t find romance here,’ warns Punam Farmah, psychology teacher, adventurous allotmenteer and writer of the Horticultural ‘obbit. This honest blog documents the natural experiments – some successful, others not – conducted on Punam’s allotment in Birmingham.

Discover how she transformed the jungle that was Plot 2a into a treasure-trove of taste (it took two weeks and 48 full green waste bags) and follow her delicious tutorials to create delights such as gooseberry pickle.

Grow Like Grandad

eggshells don't deter snails

It’s official: eggshells do NOT deter snails
Image: Grow Like Grandad

The granddads Matt Peskett wants to emulate are his very own – Grandad Jack and Great-Grandad George, both head gardeners in their time. And it’s thanks to Grandad Jack that our blogger got his first taste for growing.

Grow Like Grandad is full of expert information on allotmenteering, from how to grow giant pumpkins to a comprehensive guide to tackling your first allotment. It’s beautifully written and there’s always something to make you smile. The Snail Barrier Performance Trial (time-lapse video) is not to be missed.

We hope these wonderful blogs have inspired you to get growing or even to start your own allotment blog. And if you write about growing we’d love to hear from you. Visit our Facebook page and share a link to your gardening adventures.

 

Ten top YouTube gardening channels

Young male gardening vlogger filming in a greenhouse

Learn from these informative gardening YouTube channels
Image: silverkblackstock

With so many sources of online gardening help, advice and information to turn to, it can be difficult to know where to start. To help you sort the good from the not so good, we’ve checked out a plethora of gardening YouTube channels for the quality of their content. Here’s a selection of some of the best. Enjoy.

Kelly’s Kitchen Garden

Kelly from Kelly's Kitchen Garden sitting by a raised bed

Kelly keeps her kitchen garden flourishing with a simple sowing system
Image: Kelly’s Kitchen Garden

Do you struggle to manage your sowing and successional sowing schedules? Let Kelly show you how she keeps her busy kitchen garden planting organised – her simple system is easy to replicate, helping you make the most of your garden or allotment.

A brilliant channel with heaps of handy gardening tips, green-fingered Kelly is a friendly and informative host who shows you her mistakes as well as her triumphs. She’s also a passionate baker, loves to cook over a live fire, and because she gardens in Scotland, her channel is also a must for cool climate growers.

Garden Organic

Head of Garden Organic sowing seeds

Tune into Garden Organic for green fingered tutorials from a community of gardeners
Image: Garden Organic

If you’re sick of slugs and snails devouring your seedlings and garden plants, Garden Organic has some simple fixes you can try without resorting to nasty chemicals. Like leaving an upside down empty grapefruit half, baited with lettuce in a strategic location; slugs will congregate underneath ready for you to eliminate them.

Garden Organic is the UK’s biggest organic gardening charity with over 20,000 members and 60 plus years experience of promoting green growing practices. Looking for some quick tips on siting a garden pond? Look no further – stay away from hedges and tree roots and don’t forget that slope to ensure amphibians have easy access.

Gardening at 58 North

plant pots sitting on the balcony from Gardening at 58 North

Gardening at 58 North specialises in small space and balcony gardening
Image: Gardening at 58 North

Have you ever wondered what’s going on beneath the surface when your seeds germinate? You need to take a look at Gardening at 58 North’s awesome 10 day time-lapse video of a runner bean taking root and growing shoots; you’ll be amazed.

Focusing on small space and balcony growing, this channel is a must for anyone who likes to maximise their plot’s performance. Find out just how easy it is to turn one anaemic-looking supermarket basil into multiple lush, bushy plants with nothing more than a pair of scissors, a mug or two of water and some potting compost.

Allotment Gardener

Man standing over freshly dug earth on an allotment

Follow Matt’s journey as he transforms a disused wasteland into a bustling allotment
Image: Allotment Gardener

Don’t forget to keep checking your onions for flowering heads – an important job around planting-out time in May, says Allotment Gardener, Matt. These second year plants won’t get any bigger but if you leave them, they’ll throw all their energy into flowering.

Matt is informative and has that wry sense of humour all good gardeners possess – the ability to laugh at the vagaries of nature. Since taking over his plot in 2016, Matt has turned a wasteland into a working allotment. An inspiration as well as an excellent source of handy gardening hints and tips, Allotment Gardener is highly recommended viewing.

Garden Ninja

Garden Ninja Lee with a plastic-free greenhouse

Lee gives plastic-free gardening a try with great results!
Image: Garden Ninja

When the Garden Ninja – professional garden designer, Lee Burkhill set himself the challenge of eliminating single use plastic from his garden, a steep learning curve ensued. Join him as he repurposes cardboard egg boxes, loo rolls and more, to prove that with just a little bit of willpower and imagination, going plastic-free is easily doable.

Winner of the BBC and RHS Feel Good Gardens Competition, Lee’s video guides help you create awesome garden designs of your own. Check out his Family Garden Design Transformation for a wealth of fun, creative ideas.

Nick’s Allotment Diary

sunflower seeds sown in plastic growing tubs

Take on Nick’s sunflower growing challenge today!
Image: Nick’s Allotment Diary

Try and get as much of the root as you can when you’re pricking out seedlings, says YouTuber, Nick; that way the plant has the best chance to establish itself. Potting on brassicas? Make sure you firm around the roots to make it harder for the wind to push the plants over.

Share in Nick’s journey as he grows fruit and veg on his North Wales plot. Fancy joining Nick’s 2020 sunflower challenge? He has three categories this year: tallest, largest head, and best display in a group – check out the video for info.

Sean James Cameron

Sean from Diary of a UK Gardener on his allotment

Follow avid gardening vlogger Sean in his endeavours down the allotment
Image: Sean James Cameron

Think you can remember everything you’ve sown so far this season? Organic allotmenteer and avid Vlogger, Sean thought so, but it turns out he sowed Evening Primrose twice in one month. That’s why he says it’s so vital to take an inventory of what you’ve already sown and what seeds have yet to go in the ground.

Sean has been filming his gardening adventures since 2012. Last year he walked away from his allotment of 11 years to a much bigger plot of land. Follow his YouTube adventures as he develops this new allotment to a productive vegetable and fruit garden. Later this year Sean plans to take on another allotment and run it using information supplied by the 1940’s Dig for Victory campaign. Sean James Cameron is: “The Good Life meets urban London living.”

Simplify Gardening

For seasoned growing advice, make sure to bookmark Tony’s channel
Image: Simplify Gardening

Problems with creeping cinquefoil? This troublesome weed looks a little like a strawberry plant, only with five-bladed leaves rather than three. Just like strawberries, cinquefoil spreads by sending out runners, but each node sends down a deep taproot. The bad news, vlogger Tony says, is that if you leave even the tiniest piece of root in the ground, it will regrow. Check out his tips to get rid of it for good.

Want to grow nutrient dense organic food? Tony’s channel is the perfect place to start. Covering everything greenfingered, including beekeeping and poultry, you’ll find just the helpful advice you need to get the most from your plot. Check out Tony’s 12 tips to grow better tomatoes – give the roots plenty of room…

Yorkshire Kris

Visit Kris’ channel for advice on growing exotic plants in a colder climate
Image: Yorkshire Kris

Think you can’t grow a tropical garden in Yorkshire? Kris can – check out his video of his plot in the coldest temperature he’s ever experienced in his garden. The mercury read -5.8C, but plenty of fleece, good positioning, and the plants’ own defenses save most from the worst of the frost.

The UK isn’t perhaps the best place to grow tender plants, but as Kris demonstrates, it is possible. If you’d like to give it a go, this is the YouTube channel for you. That said, there are some tropical species best avoided. Check out Yorkshire Kris TV for the top 10 – sasa bamboo for one – once you plant it, it’ll spread like crazy and you’ll never get rid of it.

Tony C. Smith

On his channel, Tony shows off both the good and the bad days at the allotment
Image: Tony C. Smith

Bad day at the allotment? Pigeons ate Tony’s brassicas, other birds feasted on his banana shallots. The red onions? Scythed. And when he went to buy replacements, he bought the wrong ones – not to worry – planting chard is just the thing to cheer Tony up.

Informative and entertaining, Tony’s YouTube channel is full of handy hints and good ideas, and he also makes a witty, warm, and energetic presenter. Thinking of growing your own? Check out what a good day in the allotment looks like – remember, a bad day in the garden beats a good day in the office.

Did we miss one of your favourite YouTube gardening channels? Head over to our Facebook page and let us know what gardening vlogs you love to watch. Alternatively, you might be interested to know we have our own YouTube channel – Thompson & Morgan TV. It’s packed full of useful info, hints and tips to help you get the most from your gardening.

 

Perfect gardens: tips for growing veg

freshly-harvested-carrots-veg-growing-top-tips

Growing your own fresh fruit and veg is hugely rewarding
Image: Wollertz

Decided to try to grow your own? Growing veg in your garden takes less effort than you might think and is a cost-effective way to enjoy delicious herbs, fruit and vegetables. 

To help you take your first steps, some of our favourite gardening bloggers have kindly shared their top tips, perfected over many years of trial and error. Here are our handy hints…

Where’s the best place to grow vegetables?

raised-veg-beds-veg-tips-article

Raised beds will solve the problem of poor soil
Image: Derek Harris Photography

Where are you thinking of growing your veg? An old flower bed, new raised beds, containers or maybe a window box? Wherever you decide to plant your produce, the location should satisfy three basic criteria: good soil, some sunshine, and stable growing conditions.

The best soil is a rich loam – it’s fertile and holds moisture without becoming waterlogged. If that doesn’t sound like the soil in your back garden, don’t despair – adding plenty of organic material helps to improve poor soils, and if your soil is prone to waterlogging – build raised beds.

South-facing plots make good veg gardens because they get the best of the sunshine throughout the day. But just because your garden lacks the perfect orientation doesn’t mean it can’t be productive – some veg, like salad leaves and brassicas, prefer slightly shadier conditions. Avoid planting fruit and veg in areas that suffer from extreme conditions – choose somewhere sheltered away from cold winds and pelting rain.

How to choose vegetables for a small garden

Swiss-chard-closeup-veg-growing-tips

Showy veg like chard look pretty in flower beds
Image: Kelly’s Kitchen Garden

You don’t need a big garden to grow lots of tasty veg, but if you’re short on space, it’s important to plant smartly. Mark Willis of the perennially informative blog Mark’s Veg Plot uses a scientific planting scheme he learned from garden writer Joy Larkcom – the Value for Space Rating. VSR takes into account things like crop yield per square metre, growing time, availability of the crop and its quality relative to supermarket purchases. So what’s the best thing to grow if space is at a premium? Mark says:

The best examples of VSR are in the herb department. Herbs don’t take up much space, and they are usually expensive to buy (and never available when you want them).

Richard, producer of ever-popular The Veg Grower Podcast, adopts a similarly scientific approach. Under his scoring system, top marks go to asparagus, tomatoes and garlic, which is great because he likes all three!

In a small garden, Caro Shrives at The Urban Veg Patch goes for small plants that work hard. She says: “Plants that keep on cropping are a good choice; compact courgette plants look good, have vibrant flowers and provide a decent amount of small courgettes without overwhelm.”

If you’re really short of square footage, Youtube presenter Kelly, of Kelly’s Kitchen Garden, suggests vertical growing: “Growing crops like beans, cucumbers and some types of squash up trellis, supports and cane wigwams can save a lot of space.”

And if you have no garden at all? Kelly says that as long as you have a balcony or somewhere to stand a few pots, you can still grow fresh produce in containers or window boxes: “I’ve had fantastic success growing lettuce in containers. By picking individual leaves to increase yield, I harvested 5.5lbs (2.5kg) from a container measuring no more than two square feet.”

Grow what you like to eat

Tomato-Tumbling-Tom-Red-Thompson-Morgan-veg-growing-tips

These tumbling tomatoes are perfect for patio containers or hanging baskets
Image: Tomato ‘Tumbling Tom Red’ from Thompson & Morgan

If you’re lucky enough to have room to grow whatever you like, how do you narrow down the choice? We asked our favourite bloggers that very question – the consensus – though growing expensive or rare veg is a fun and tasty sideline – concentrate on growing what you enjoy eating.

There’s little point cultivating exotic veg if you won’t eat it reckons Pete Polanyk of Weeds up to me Knees. Pete, whose blog offers a wealth of encouragement for beginner gardeners recommends bog standard spuds, tomatoes, runner beans, peas, carrots, beetroots, onions, garlic and herbs. Simple fare maybe, but “they’re a lot more tasty, fresh from the garden.”

Jackie Gulland of Reclaiming Paradise agrees, saying that you’ll be surprised by the flavour of freshly picked produce from your own garden. Although she has an allotment, she explains why she still grows some of her favourites at home:

The garden [is ideal] for picking herbs to throw in your cooking or a handful of soft fruit for your breakfast and for keeping on top of beans and peas which can grow too fast to eat sometimes. It’s great to go out after work and see what there is that you can have for an evening meal, rather than planning further in advance.

Whether you go for the VSR method or simply plant what you think you’ll enjoy, it’s important to feed your soil and rotate your crops. Avoid planting the same thing in the same place each year to help keep your ground fertile and free of pests.

Start small

Small-garden-patch-veg-growing-tips

Just a small patch of soil and a few pots are enough to get started
Image: Joanne Dale

A well-planted plot of about 12’ x 10’ is the ideal size to supply most of a family of four’s summer and autumn veg needs (with a little left over for freezing). If you start small, you won’t get overwhelmed with veg you can’t eat.

If you’re just testing the water to see if you like growing veg, why not follow Pete’s lead? He planted tomatoes in his flower beds next to his dahlias, pointing out that there’s nothing wrong with a bit of gardening anarchy.

Other options for the first-timer might include planting a few containers. Richards a great fan of growing new potatoes this way:

They’re easy to look after and, if grown in pots, can be moved around if needed. They don’t take much care – plenty of water and food as they are hungry and thirsty plants, and that’s about it. The flavour of homegrown new potatoes far exceeds anything you can buy too.

You might also consider building a raised bed which doesn’t need to take up much space and can easily produce a significant quantity of your favourite veg. Use good quality seeds and plug plants, avoid planting your veg too close together, water well and reap the rewards.

Growing alone? Caro does too. She says: ”It’s tempting to give up when things don’t work out. Joining a local horticultural society, visiting kitchen gardens and attending courses and talks gave me more confidence. Growing food should be fun!”

5 top tips from our brilliant bloggers

Garden-peas-radish-veg-growing-tips

Kelly recommends cost-effective crops like fresh peas and vibrant radish
Image: Kelly’s Kitchen Garden

  1. “The most cost-effective crops are the ones that are expensive to buy [in a shop] and don’t keep well – such as Purple Sprouting Broccoli and salads…[but] my favourites are still tomatoes and chillies.”  Mark – Mark’s Veg Plot
  2. “Growing your own is a good way to try unusual veg, especially if you have children. I grow yellow beans, oca, spaghetti squash, sweet red gooseberries – none of which is available in the shops – and physalis (Cape Gooseberries) that taste much nicer freshly picked.”  Caro Shrives – The Urban Veg Patch
  3. We have rosemary, thyme and bay in the garden that we planted years ago. They’re easy to grow, you just bung them in and voila, you’ve got fresh herbs when you need them.” Pete Polanyk – Weeds up to me knees
  4. I try and practise successional (staggered) sowing with salad leaves. This gives our household plenty of delicious salad leaves all year round saving us having to buy those expensive bags from the supermarket.” Richard – The Veg Grower Podcast
  5. “Things like peas, radishes, salad/spring onions and deliciously sweet turnips are on my budget list – great for the beginner gardener and take up very little space.” KellyKelly’s Kitchen Garden

If you’re thinking about growing your own vegetables we hope our gardening bloggers and YouTubers have provided the inspiration and advice you need to get started. As Kelly says: “Just give it a go and have fun!”

Top tips for Instagram-ready gardens

Person taking photo of garden with smartphone

Get your garden grid-ready with these top tips
Image: leungchopan

Instagram gardening is huge these days. This social media app is a great virtual place to make friends with like-minded growers, swap advice and grow an online audience as you grow your own.

But if you’re not sure how to get started, or would love some ideas for improving how you Insta-garden, we’ve got some amazing tips to share with you.

We asked some of our favourite instagram-loving gardeners for their best advice on growing and capturing Instagram-ready gardens, and here’s what they said:

Dave @greedy_gardens

Dave from greedy gardens standing in his allotment

Dave shares allotment growing with his two green-fingered sons
Image: @greedy_gardens

“My home garden is for the chickens and kids, with flowers around the borders so it will never be award winning. I’ve had my allotment for 5 years now, I’ve learned to grow things that we all like, although I always end up with too many courgettes!” says Dave of @greedy_gardens.

Dave’s priorities are growing things he and his family love, plus keeping his two sons busy on the plot – with a mud kitchen for the youngest and a ‘Minecraft’ related veg patch for the oldest.

With regard to what ‘works’ on Instagram, Dave feels that’s a bit of a mystery: “In the past I have posted what I thought were great photos of flowers only to get very few ‘likes’, then I’d post a muddy carrot and would get loads of likes.” 

His advice is to concentrate on the social side of social media:

I would never consider myself an expert gardener or instagrammer but I would say try and be enthusiastic and interesting. Interact with the gardening community; I think that’s more important and fun than trying to create an amazing photo.

August @augusts_garden

August with her children in the garden

August enjoys teaching her girls about the joy of gardening
Image: @marklordphoto

Seeing my girls faces light up when the seeds they have sown poke through the soil, and then even better when they get to eat their creations, is something I desperately want to share with other families and this is quite simply what motivates me to share photos and posts on Instagram.

August of @augusts_garden loves to grow unusual shapes and rainbow colours to get her girls enthusiastic about growing – and eating – good food. And as market gardener at Raymond Blanc’s Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons in Oxfordshire, August certainly knows her onions. She loves bright colours, so her Instagram feed is a treasure trove of fruit, flowers and delicious veg:

“I find so much beauty in nature which Is why I find it difficult to stick to a scheme resulting in a garden bursting with colourful vegetables and flowers. If you look at my page I strongly recommend sunglasses!”

Her main advice for Instagram gardening is to follow your heart:

“I think you have to stick to what you love and trust in yourself even if it’s not what everyone else is posting. It’s not just a picture you post, the words also make an impact. If you love what you grow it’s hard for it not to come across in your posts.”

Amy @amyskitchengarden

Amy standing on her balcony with a box of potatoes

Amy grows amazing produce on her tiny Brighton balcony
Image: @amyskitchengarden

Amy of @amyskitchengarden describes herself as a ‘rookie veggie grower’. She rediscovered her childhood love of gardening last year and started with potatoes, carrots, tomatoes and aubergines. Now she’s getting great results from her Brighton balcony garden (although she openly shares the not-so-great ones too).

“I try not to think too much about my Instagram channel when I’m planning my garden,” says Amy. “I always choose interesting seeds that catch my eye, rather than thinking what will do well on social media… I have to admit, I did buy some rainbow sweetcorn last month because of it’s beautiful colourful kernels too!”

She advises using lots of flowers and bright colours to jazz up your feed. But her main concern is looking after the environment and spreading awareness:

I try to use upcycled materials in my gardening, the most eye catching of which are my big recycled beer keg containers! I’m always keen to do my bit for the environment as sustainability and minimising waste are super important, so whilst my garden isn’t the most ‘Instagrammable’ I think people really enjoy seeing how they can take these tips into their own garden.

Lucy @shegrowsveg

Lucy standing in garden with a pink striped top

Lucy has created a beautiful Instagrammable edible garden
Image: @shegrowsveg

Lucy of @shegrowsveg takes her Instagram presence seriously:

I completely ripped out, redesigned and replanted my garden to showcase what you could do with fully edible planting. I wanted to take the opportunity to show that choosing edible plants did not mean compromising on beauty or design or mean that the entire garden looks like an allotment.

Her grid is full of lush, large veg and vibrant colour. And she loves to showcase specialist and unique fruit and veg that looks great in her photos and inspires her audience.

But, despite her commitment to Instagram gardening, Lucy’s main piece of advice is to follow your heart rather than the likes:

“Don’t make it all about Instagram, remember this is your garden and it should still be a place that makes you happy. People enjoy following accounts that are genuine as opposed to content simply created for a good photo. If you are loving your garden, other people will love it too!”

Will @solegardener

Summers day at South Wood Farm with a topiary garden

Stunning topiary at South Wood Farm, taken by head gardener Will
Image: @solegardener

The garden that Will shares on Instagram is grander than your ordinary backyard or allotment. He’s head gardener at South Wood Farm in Devon, and his Instagram account @solegardener is packed with stunning images of the grounds.

With such an excellent backdrop, it’s not surprising that Will has become an expert in getting the best out of garden photography. He has some advice on composition:

I find wide angle shots of plants or borders with a subject matter or focal point in such as a house/gate/bench always seem to be a lot more popular than just a plant portrait for example.

And his top tip for a successful instagram feed is incredibly simple:

“It sounds obvious but I’m always very aware of the lighting and weather when I’m taking pictures of the garden. Plants never look happy on a grey overcast day (much like the gardener!)”

Vera @growntocook

Vera standing in an allotment holding a pumpkin

Vera keeps a tidy plot on @growntocook
Image: @growntocook

For Vera of @growntocook Insta success starts with a tidy garden: “A well-organised garden with neat beds is generally easier to photograph than a jungle-like planting which can be very delightful in real life, but is not easy to capture well in photos.”

Vera’s kitchen garden comprises 15 rectangular beds which are very practical for the no-dig gardening she practises, while also looking great on camera:

“The photos that get the most likes on my feed are usually aerial shots of our kitchen garden, but the ones that generate most engagement are often those where I share more in-depth information about specific plants.”

Ultimately, says Vera, it’s your humanness that’s going to help you grow an audience:

… don’t be afraid to share your failures. If you don’t want to make them a part of your grid, share them in stories. We all have failures and ultimately, perfection is boring! Concentrate on what you love about gardening in the first place and then share that love with your audience.

Lucy @allotment.postie

Lucy standing on a garden fork in an allotment

Keeping an Instagram account motivates Lucy to visit her allotment on greyer days
Image: @allotment.postie

For Lucy of @allotment.postie, Instagramming is a great motivator to get down the allotment, even when the weather’s rubbish.

She told us that her most popular posts tend to feature pumpkins:

I think because they’re very exciting and satisfying to grow! Flowers are always a crowd pleaser also, and I’ve noticed if you have a personal project people like to follow along.

But as well as growing a following on Instagram, Lucy really values the community and support of other growers. She recommends engaging with other Insta gardeners, asking questions and spreading appreciation.

“The biggest mistake is to not share mistakes. Everyone knows life isn’t what social media shows, but by sharing your mistakes… you can get advice on how to fix it or move on. It may seem embarrassing to share mistakes but everyone has them, even the big names that seem to have it all figured out.”

Shannon @diaryofaladygardener

Shannon wearing bright pink gardening gloves on an allotment

Shannon wears bright accessories in her winter pictures
Image: @diaryofaladygardener

Shannon of @diaryofaladygardener doesn’t let Instagram sway her planting decisions too much.

This year my focus is on things that we’ll actually eat at home rather than what looks best (although I’m still hoping it’ll all look lovely too). That said, I’ve got my eye on an awful lot of dahlias for this year because I got such flower envy from everyone else’s feed in 2019!

When it comes to photography, Shannon takes a lot of photos. For every one photo she posts, she’s probably taken about 30-40. Her advice? Introduce a dash of colour wherever you can: “that’s why my gloves are bright pink and my wheelbarrow has splashes of yellow – the extra colour can really bring a photo to life, especially during the winter months.”

And Shannon also recommends showing yourself in your feed:

“I personally love to follow the people who have really authentic feeds and have themselves in the photos – you can really see how happy growing makes them and the love that’s gone into growing those plants, fruits and veggies!”

Dave and Joy @our_tiny_garden

Dave and Joy holding their baby on the allotment in the winter

Dave and Joy have recently grown from a tiny garden into a large allotment
Image: @our_tiny_garden

Dave and Joy of @our_tiny_garden grow fruit and veg in their small back garden and have just taken on a new allotment. Their Instagram feed is full of colour and beautiful close ups.

We’re growing some coloured corn this year because it looks amazing, and Chioggia beetroot too. Fundamentally though, we grow for taste. And we’re just lucky that tomato plants and tomatoes are super photogenic, and yellow courgettes are delicious too!

We asked the couple for their photography tips and they shared this with us:

“A good camera helps a lot, but it doesn’t need to be an expensive DSLR. All of our photos are taken with a mobile phone camera… Our major tip would be to use natural light. Sunshine if possible, as it lifts the colours and the feel of the photo massively.” 

And when it comes to those stunning close ups, take note of this advice: “Don’t use a digital zoom – Take a larger area photo and zoom in afterwards. This prevents the image from pixelating as much.”

Claire of @sowing_at_the_stoop

Portrait of a thriving garden with green leaves and canes in an allotment

Claire’s passion for growing is clearly evident
Image: @sowing_at_the_stoop

“Having an Instagram page was my way of making me keep up my home allotment and to make sure I spent some time out there every day,” says Claire of @sowing_at_the_stoop.

“It’s turned into much more that .. I’ve ‘met’ some truly great people always on hand with advice or ideas as well as being involved with the Thompson and Morgan trials last year … which I loved!”

When it comes to photography, Claire says:

I think a more natural setting works best with social media… the colourful images seem to be popular or some garden hacks that I share… Summer watering or propagation… that type of thing does well too.

Like many of our Instagrammers, Claire urges you to do what you enjoy: “Do what you love and garden in a way that suits you.. don’t go for the ‘likes’. If you enjoy what you do, that will shine through onto your IG page.”

Rachel @thegoodlifeainteasy

Rachel holding a kale haul and standing in front of a shed

Rachel celebrating her kale haul
Image: @thegoodlifeainteasy

Rachel of @thegoodlifeainteasy (but it’s worth it) colourfully documents her efforts to live as sustainably as possible on her Instagram account. She’s got an organic allotment and some lovely ex-battery hens to help her in her mission.

Despite her large Instagram following and an engaged audience, she doesn’t garden for the Gram:

To be honest, I don’t really think of Instagram when I plan my garden. I just do what I love and what I’ll enjoy, and then share that. So if anything I think my tip would be to be authentic and just share what you love and your passion will come through.

Karen @welliesandwaffles

Karen kneeling in the garden whilst doing cabbage watch

Karen on ‘cabbage watch’ in her kitchen garden
Image: @welliesandwaffles

“I think my most liked photo is actually of some chard roots which were bright pink,” writes Karen of @welliesandwaffles. Colourful images are key to engaging Karen’s audience, but they’re not the only things that count:

I also find that a good description works very well… alongside the photo. Otherwise it’s like having cheese without the crackers!

She continues: “Showing a wide variety of plants, detailed descriptions and adding tips always adds to the post. It takes time and effort to get a garden to look great so show this and take people along on the journey. The gardening community loves a ‘before and after’ photo.”

Jane @plot_life_

Allotmenteer Jane taking a selfie whilst overlooking her thriving allotment

Allotmenteer Jane enjoying her allotment
Image: @plot_life_

“For me, the best images come from something that you’re passionate about. The growing community on Instagram are a wonderful bunch: the best posts are made with an enthusiasm that often transcends the image on a grid,” says Jane of @plot_life_.

When it comes to plants that make the best images, Jane has been experimenting lately, and with some success:

Last year, I experimented with vertical growing: the aesthetics of crops at various heights across the plot was very pleasing to the eye and is something I’ll probably build on this year.

But, ultimately, says Jane, don’t worry too much about what’s going to ‘work’ on Instagram or not:

“Grow what you love: be driven by your personal taste, not by what others are growing or what you feel you ‘should’ be cultivating. You will spend far longer in your garden than the person scrolling through your feed, so make sure you love it!”

@inatinygarden

Inatinygardener holding a bunch of rainbow carrots

Rainbow carrots are a feast for the eyes and the table
Image: @inatinygarden

“I started my Instagram account to encourage people to grow their own, showing it’s possible even in a small space with limited time,” says @inatinygarden.

And for this Instagrammer, it’s the pollinators who govern all her decisions.

I grow a variety of plants in order to have flowers all year round for multiple pollinators… So my advice is, don’t grow for what will get the most likes on Instagram, grow for the pollinators, Mother Earth and last but not least for your own enjoyment!

We’d like to thank all of our wonderful Instagram gardeners for their generous advice. And we hope you’ve found some inspiration to help you start – or grow – your own Insta accounts.

Top tips for healthy houseplants

Collection of houseplants from Chanel de Koch (TheJoyOfPlants)

Add some greenery to your home with houseplants
Image: Thejoyofplants.co.uk

Have you always thought how nice it would be to liven up your home with a selection of stunning houseplants? If you don’t know which plants to choose or how to keep them alive, we’ve got just the information you need to turn your home into an indoor oasis. We asked some of our favourite houseplant bloggers to address some of your frequently asked questions. Here’s what they said…

Why grow houseplants?

Four large fern plants in an airy living room

Houseplants have many physical and mental health benefits
Image: Thejoyofplants.co.uk

Colourful flowers, lush foliage, beautiful shapes and textures – these are just a few of the characteristics that make houseplants so aesthetically pleasing – it’s no wonder we love them so much. But bringing plants indoors is about more than adding interest to your decor. Plants are good for your health too.

Over at The Joy of Plants, Chanel de Kock writes:

Bringing nature into your home has a major positive impact on your mental and physical health. Plants lower blood pressure, improve productivity, ensure a better mood and improve performance at school and work.

And the benefits don’t stop there. Houseplants like aloe vera increase the oxygen content of the air in your home, and spider plants are just one of a number of plants that filter poisonous chemicals like formaldehyde from the air. As Chanel goes on to say: “And when it comes to plants, the bigger they are, the greater the positive effect they have. Simply put, plants make us feel good.”

Which easy-care plants should I choose?

Pink orchids from Gardening at 58

Simon coaxed this orchid to produce the most flowers he’s ever seen on a single spike
Image: Gardening at 58

Jane Perrone is a journalist, blogger and the host of houseplant podcast On The Ledge. She says: “It’s tempting to impulse-buy, but do your research first – finding out where a plant’s native home is and how it lives will give you an idea of the conditions it will enjoy in your home. At the same time, go with your heart. You’ll take far better care of plants that you feel passionately about.”

Think about where in your home you’re going to be growing your plant. The environment changes from room to room, offering different light levels and humidity. Boris Dadvisard of Invincible Happy Houseplants says even your bathroom is suitable for growing plants provided you choose the right ones – he recommends ferns, bamboos from warm, moist tropical climates, ivy and pothos vines which he says are:

Perfect for creating a lush atmosphere in the bathroom, placed around the sink, around the bathtub or hanging from a shelf.

Looking for plants for the kitchen? Boris recommends orchids which love the warm environment and don’t need too much watering: “Once a week, fill your kitchen sink with a few inches of cold water and set your orchids in to have a drink for about 30 minutes. Voila!”

Are you notoriously forgetful when it comes to watering your houseplants? Simon at YouTube chanel Gardening at 58 has the perfect easy-care pot plant solution: “Opuntia cactus which originates from a desert climate will do best on a sunny windowsill and will happily tolerate both low and high temperatures.”

Best plants for low light conditions?

Green 'Aspidistra elatior' from Thompson & Morgan

The elegant Aspidistra copes well with low light and little water
Image: Aspidistra elatior from Thompson & Morgan

Perhaps you live in a traditional cottage, or your house faces the wrong direction to benefit from the available sunlight; here in the UK we have more than our fair share of grey days, but you can still grow plants to brighten up your home.

Chanel at The Joy of Plants says: “Most tropical plants do well in darker spaces – if you think of a forest floor, usually the plants that grow there have limited light due to the forest canopy blocking out sunlight, and usually the darker the leaves, the better they can cope with less light.” 

Simon at Gardening at 58 agrees. He says perfect houseplants for low light include:

His top picks for houseplants for cooler rooms like unheated porches and conservatories include “sub-tropical plants, cacti and most succulents such as: Crassula ovata, Opuntia, Clivia miniata, Cycas revoluta, Aloe vera, Agave and Hedera helix.”

Subtropical houseplants are often more versatile and forgiving than we give them credit for but you should still do your best to protect them from extremes of light and temperature. House plants can’t thrive in darkness unless you invest in plant lamps, and they don’t like to be scorched or frozen to death. As a rule of thumb, if you can live with the conditions, your houseplants probably can too.

How to care for houseplants

Person watering a houseplant

Keep an eye on your houseplants so you’ll notice if they start to show signs of stress
Image: zaleskyphoto

The native environment from which your houseplants originate is the main determining factor in how you should care for them, but as a rule of thumb, Simon says:

Most houseplants found in the shops have been chosen because they grow naturally in temperature and light levels found in our houses, which tend to be at the subtropical range of temperatures.

Weekly watering is generally enough to keep this range of plants happy – but plants which occupy extreme climates in the wild do require more specialised care. For example, overwatering can prove fatal to cacti and underwatering is devastating to damp-loving ferns. Always check the instructions before buying houseplants so that you know what you’re letting yourself in for.

As well as water, plants need food which comes from the soil. Alexandra at Flat With Plants recommends: “During spring and summer feed your [foliage] houseplants every two weeks with a high nitrogen or magnesium food plant. Most plant fertilisers will be safe to use and provide the extra nitrogen. In autumn reduce feeding to monthly and take a break in winter.”

Also remember to take good care of the soil your plants grow in. Simon says that repotting is probably the most overlooked aspect of houseplants: “When you buy your plant it will most likely already have outgrown its pot.” Simon recommends using soil additives like perlite and bark based orchid compost to help maintain the soil’s structure for longer, but every once in a while you’ll need to repot your plants to keep them thriving.

How to care for houseplants when you’re away from home

Houseplant irrigation system from Invincible House Plants

Find an irrigation system to look after your plants while you’re on holiday
Image: Invincible House Plants

While you’re away from home, Boris Dadvisard of Invincible House Plants suggests gathering all your plants in the centre of a room, close to a bucket of water, so they can share humidity. Here are more of Boris’ clever self-watering tips to keep indoor plants healthy while you travel:

  • Lay pebbles in a saucer underneath the pot and soak them with water to store some humidity. The plant can access this extra water while you’re away.
  • The garden twine technique (as illustrated above). Soak a portion of garden twine in water. Stick one end in the soil and place the other end in a bucket filled with water. That’s your water reservoir. Make sure to place the reservoir above the level of your plants, so that the water can run down easily by capillarity.
  • Get some self-watering pots that have a water reservoir built in.

We hope you now feel confident to choose and look after a wide range of houseplants. Remember, if you do have some disasters, don’t worry – as Alexandra at Flat With Plants says:

For any plants you lose, you get the chance to buy another one, and if you’ve succeeded so far why not buy more plants and build yourself an indoor jungle.

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