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Gardening Inspiration: My Favourite Instagram Gardeners

 

They say it takes a village to raise a child. Guess what? It also seems to take a village to figure out how to grow some food in your backyard. This I have learned. I am in year three of the backyard farm, the second year I am going at it alone. Mostly I love it, and sometimes I hate it. It's a challenge for me at every step. Learning to be patient and recognizing that this isn't a system I need to figure out but instead can only keep learning and adapting. When something goes wrong, there isn't a single sure thing solution. Let's say I asked why my tomatoes weren't ripening. There won't be one answer – there will be 50 and all will be a little bit correct.

Last summer I planned out my garden, tracked the successes and where I wanted to make changes. This year I planned to make those changes but then certain things I wanted to grow either didn't germinate and/or I couldn't find a source for the seedlings. My two greatest lessons so far are as follows:

  1. There will never be a perfect garden layout, but I will die trying.
  2. Mushroom compost is to tomatoes what fish oil is to baby's brains. It makes them both grow strong and mighty.

Now, many of my IG followers have been incredibly knowledgeable when I put out an SOS and for all of you, I am grateful. Over the last couple of years (usually in springtime when I go into panic mode about growing food) I have found some amazing people to follow on Instagram that offer up so much insight, wisdom and experience and I thought I'd share some of my favourites.

Hot tip for following Instagram gardeners: Don't just look at the recent posts. Go deep into the feeds of these men and women. The practical gardening lessons, the life lessons, the way harvests are used – there is so much here. Basically, if you spend enough time reading these sparks of inspiration, you will become lost in their wisdom and come out wanting to homestead and live off your land until the end of your days. See you there!

Ron Finley / @RonFinleyProject

 

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"Compost is one of the sexiest things on the planet." This is the moment that Ron Finley stole my heart in the trailer for his gardening course with Masterclass. Not only is he the king of growing kale in unlikely places, but he's also an activist working to set-up food gardens and educate communities on how and where to grow food. His work and his message are so massively essential as food insecurity soars, especially amongst Black households. Fresh food is life and Ron is a powerhouse in this movement. From his website, "Ron envisions a world where gardening is gangsta, where cool kids know their nutrition and where communities embrace the act of growing, knowing and sharing the best of the earth’s fresh-grown food."

Follow: @ronfinleyproject/ and @ronfinleyhq


Nicole Burk / @GardenaryCo

 

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When I grow up, I want to garden like Nicole. I have often envied people who have the ability to make things look effortless, and effortlessly beautiful. Nicole's gardens fit that standard. The bounty she grows, the organization of her beds, the whimsical approach she takes... It's all pure inspiration for me. She offers loads of tips, before and after photos and video tutorials.

Follow: @gardenaryco


Kevin / @EpicGardening

 

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If you are looking for a one-stop garden guru, this is your person! Kevin has likely taught me more about the day-to-day care of food plants than anyone else, from pruning tomatoes and harvesting kale to whether or not you should prune pepper plants. He has hundreds of video tutorials on his feed and more wisdom than I can keep up with. And then he goes and posts a video about propagating dragon fruit and I'm still scratching my head thinking, wait a second, why aren't I living somewhere where I can grow dragon fruit. Later Toronto!

Follow: @EpicGardening


Alyson / @AlysonSimplyGrows

 

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Remember in my intro when I talked about those gardeners that make everything just look beautiful? Alyson is the ultimate at that. Her feed makes me want to dive all in, pack my bags, and homestead it up. When I look at her work, the opening words to Simon and Garfunkle's 59th Street Bridge song pops into my head: "Slow down, you're moving too fast. Got to make the morning last." If you're in need of a deep inhale and exhale, this is the source for inspiration to slow life down and literally, take some time to smell the flowers.

Follow: @alysonsimplygrows


Colleen Codekas / @GrowForageCookFerment

 

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Make it all from scratch. Grow it. Eat it right away or preserve it. You can do it all from scratch. This is the reassurance I get when posts from Colleen make their way into my feed. The beauty, the wisdom, the tips, and the inspiration have made me a new and dedicated superfan.

Follow: @growforagecookferment


Chevonne Dixon / @ThisWellPlannedLife

 

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In my mind, I am this coordinated with my garden. In a way I actually am because my own garden is a bit of a torrented mess and, usually, so am I. Chevonne has her own inspiring health journey (including two heart surgeries) and copes with depression and anxiety. I am inspired by so many things about her – how she has learned to manage her life, her love of planning (and planners!), and as it relates to this post, her dreamy pastel garden colour-coordination. She's organized her plants in cute upcycled dressers, painted pots, and more. So much creativity. One day, when I grow up, I hope to be as organized as Chevonne.

Follow: @ThisWellPlannedLife


Gayla Trail / @YouGrowGirl

 

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I have known of Gail for twelve years at least. She used to live at the end of the street of my work headquarters and gardened at least half a dozen public spaces in our neighbourhood. Gayla attended one of my first cooking classes and brought me a basil plant (which I promptly killed). I've followed along on her gardening adventures ever since. She no longer grows all her food on a rooftop in pots but has a sprawling (for downtown Toronto) backyard and grows everything you can grow in this climate. Having been through her own health struggles, gardening is her space for healing, as it is for so many of us.

Follow: @YouGrowGirl


And If You Dream Of A Home Full Of Plants: @UrbanJungleBLOG

 

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Right, so my outdoor garden game is an ongoing work in progress. My indoor garden game is non-existent. I can grow tomatoes. I kill house plants. But! And that's a big BUT, I do dream of being a plant lady. I dream of a home so drenched in natural light that my plants can't help but grow and thrive and for this reason, I follow a few plant-loving feeds like this one. All. The. Plants.

Follow: @UrbanJungleBlog


There is a very great chance that this list will continue to grow. I know I follow more veggie-growing garden and herb folks than I have shared here but this is where my list begins. One of the reasons I love garden feeds on IG so much is because it feels like a social media exhale. There's a lot going on these days and just as my day feels grounded in with some time in my garden at the end of it, the times I am scrolling on socials, the images from the people above also serve as that sweet exhale. Gardens are life. And there is no greater reminder of the potential of what we can grow, create, change, and nourish than planting a seed and watching it grow into something beautiful.

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