Courtesy of Nick Cutsumpas

Farmer Nick takes a break from urban farming to talk to us about his favorite tools and tips.

Teaghan Skulszki  – May 14, 2021

Welcome to In the Garden, our occasional series featuring landscape designers, urban farmers, and plant people we lovesharing their favorite projects and inspiration.

If you’ve wiggled your way into the plant world of Instagram you’ve probably heard about Nick Cutsumpas. Nick has become one of the most popular “plant influencers” on the platform and uses his knowledge of urban farming and gardening to bring awareness to bad plant parenting habits. Nick covers all kinds of plant care from propagating to drilling your own drainage holes in containers.

Nicks’s easy-to-follow tips and tricks can be found on TikTok, Instagram, and his blog. Looking to get rid of fungus-gnats? Just watch Nick’s quick clip that provides solutions and preventive methods. From novice plant parenting to hard-core gardening, Nick’s plant knowledge is synthesized with media trends and tools to provide informational “plant entertainment” (It’s a thing.) He recently made the move from New York City to Los Angeles to soak in some Southern California sunshine, so he now counts as one of our favorite folks in the West. Here, he shares some of his favorite gardens, tools, and plants.

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In the Garden with Nick Cutsumpas

Favorite Flower: Sunflowers, Forever and Always

Sunflowers hold a special place in Nick’s heart as a reminder of his journey to becoming an urban farmer. He reflects upon his first memories with the flower saying, “Sunflowers were the first flowers I ever grew in my backyard garden and I loved seeing how tall they would get (every year they reached about 12ft). As a former college baseball player, eating sunflower seeds in the dugout was a common practice, and being able to grow my own was even better” 

Favorite Plant: Begonia Maculata

Nick is quick to answer his favorite plant with a simple compound word: polka-dots. He goes on to say “Begonias add such a splash of color to your space and they certainly break up the overwhelming amount of green that other plants have.” He explains that “they love humidity but are less picky about their watering needs compared to Calathea which prefers distilled or filtered water. If you want a plant that brings character and vibrancy to your collection, begonias are the way to go.”

Favorite Garden Book: Field Guide to Urban Gardening by Kevin Espiritu

Even though Nick’s platform serves as an inspiration for most, he is inspired by other urban farmers who are also using Instagram to amplify their voices. “I first discovered the book after following Kevin on Instagram and it detailed how to grow in smaller spaces,” he said. “The book taught me that you don’t need to have an acre of land to grow food and garden, and being able to grow in a front yard, on a terrace, or even on a fire escape is easier than you think.”

Field Guide to Urban Gardening: How to Grow Plants, No Matter Where You Live, by Kevin Espiritu
   

Best Garden to Visit for Inspiration: Huntington Library

With making the move from across the country Nick had many places to explore on the West Coast. One of his favorites is right here in L.A. When asked what his favorite garden to visit for inspiration he laughed, “Hard not to choose the Huntington Library given how many garden styles there are to draw inspiration from. The Japanese Garden is definitely my favorite and I’ve studied their landscape design history at the New York Botanical Garden. Aside from their amazing plant care techniques, the Japanese style works in concert with nature as opposed to manipulating and controlling it, and the way they constructed it at the Huntington was truly masterful. Sitting in the rose garden is a close second.”

Most Essential Garden Tool: Fiskars Snips

Nick spills the tea on his favorite tool to use in the garden, and it’s so simple you might already have one in your arsenal. He tells, “I love using Fiskars because they have a different pruner for each gardening situation. Some are curved to reach tight spaces, some are more heavy-duty to trim thick branches, and they even have a set of harvesting knives if you want to harvest entire heads of lettuce with ease. I’ve been using them for years too and the quality has not deteriorated season to season.”

Fiskars Pruning Snips, $21
   

Our Favorite Basic Garden Tools


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