DIY: Growing a balcony garden

Hawaiian Electric
3 min readMay 12, 2020

by Robert Yang | May 12, 2020

One day in the middle of a Costco run, I made a quick stop at the nearby Home Depot. To my surprise, the parking lot was bustling with people and a line had formed outside the store, extending to the sidewalk. With most businesses closed and stay-at-home orders extended, many of us are passing the time working on “do it yourself” or DIY projects. I stood in line (6 feet apart from everyone) because I was planning to start my own DIY project: a balcony garden.

Why? The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the importance of being self-sustainable. My goal was to grow a small garden that included herbs and smaller vegetables. If I can grow my own produce, then there are fewer reasons to make trips to the grocery store — and in the long run, it also saves money!

Being able to get your hands dirty seemed like a nice and refreshing change of pace. Plus, gardening is fun, easy to start (but challenging to master) and adds a nice “to-do” activity (watering, trimming, etc.) to my daily list, which makes each day more fulfilling.

I had prior experience doing social media for a local gardening store but have never actually gardened. The task didn’t seem as daunting after speaking to former coworkers, watching YouTube vloggers and reading advice from gardening websites.

To begin my project, I purchased three pots (with holes on the bottom), three saucers, five plants (some plants share a pot) and a large bag of potting mix, all of which added up to less than $40. Anything else I would need could be found at home. Your plants will one day grow into its full size so you should always repot them into bigger containers. To begin your garden, follow these easy steps to repot your plants:

  1. In an empty pot (don’t forget the hole on the bottom), fill the bottom with small rocks. This step will help facilitate draining when you water your plants.
  2. Fill the bottom of the pot with potting mix until halfway. For those who don’t own a small shovel, use a party cup or your hands. Leave small pockets of space for your plant.
  3. Back to your plant, use one hand to lightly squeeze the bottom of the container. Use the other hand, grab the base of your plant and lightly tug on it. If the plant doesn’t easily plop out, squeeze with more pressure while continuing to lightly tug.
  4. Place the plant in the small pocket created earlier. Cover the base of the plant with potting mix. Continue to add potting mix until you’ve almost reached the top of the pot.
  5. Place your pot on a saucer so it can catch any water that drains out of the hole on the bottom. Water the plant heavily. This is very important to reduce the shock to the roots during the repotting process.
  6. Position your plants! Most home garden plants prefer indirect sunlight so keep them in the shade to avoid burning their leaves. I put mine on an old shoe rack or on the floor.

And that’s it! Use the same process each time you decide to add another plant to the garden. Remember to take care of your plants: Water them whenever the surface of the soil feels dry. Trim any dead leaves or overgrown branches. Harvest any herbs or vegetables they may produce. Good luck growing your garden!

Robert Yang is a digital communications and social media specialist at Hawaiian Electric Company.



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