KokuaNews_icon Kōkua Blog

How to Plant a Garden at Home

September 01, 2020
By: Alex Narrajos, ʻĀINA In Schools Program Cooridnator

With many restrictions in Hawaiʻi changing daily, folks are finding themselves home more than ever. One activity that has gained popularity all over the world is at-home gardening! Not only does gardening provide an opportunity for outdoor exercise and improved mental and emotional well being  but it also has the potential to feed a household. There are many ways to garden at home and there isnʻt one “right” way. Every home is unique so every garden will look different! Some homes have huge yards, others have no yards, some get a ton of sunlight, while others get very little. Determining what kind of home garden works for you is the first step in creating a garden that will not only be a fun activity for the whole family, but can also nourish your body! Check out our tips on planting a garden at home:

  1. Check out the ʻĀINA In Schools “How To” Resource Page for inspiration and guidance
    It always helps to do some research before diving into a garden project. On our “How To” resource page, you will find step-by-step guides on How to Build a Raised Garden Bed, How to Plant Seeds, and more!
  2. Figure out what garden space works for you
    Growing food doesnʻt always need a lot of space or fancy tools. Many gardeners do not have yards and instead grow food in garden beds, on windowsills, or in containers. The first step in planting a home garden is determining how much space you have to grow food and what kind of method works for you and your family. Take a moment to think about the space you have available. If you have a yard and the abilityto dig into the ground, consider building in-ground beds and using soil amendments to grow crops. If you have a lanai or limited outdoor space, a container or vertical garden might be the best fit for you. If you donʻt have any outdoor space, planting some plants in small pots and placing them in sunny spots inside your house might work! The possibilities are endless - with some soil, seeds, and TLC, you could have food growing in no time!                                        
  3. Consider placement and season when planning your garden
    While Hawaiʻi has the climate to grow food all year round, plants still require different amounts of sun, water, nutrients, space, and have a specific growing time! There is a lot of planning that goes into gardening that can help you produce a successful harvest. Some things to consider:
    • Sun vs. Shade
      Once you determine where your garden is going to be, plan your crops based on how much sun the area gets. If it gets full sun for most of the day, plant sun loving plants like tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, peas, beans, corn and squash or eggplant. If it is shady, consider planting crops like arugula, beets, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, lettuce, and herbs.
    • What season is it?Even though we are lucky to have beautiful weather much of the time in Hawaiʻi, there are still distinct seasons that certain crops thrive in. In Hawaiʻi, we have a wet season which is called Hoʻoilo (approximately October to March) and a dry season 
      called Kau (approximately April to September). If you are planting in the hot and humid summer months be sure to plant crops that donʻt mind the blazing sun and be sure to water often. The winter months can often bring rain and cooler temperatures. Plants that are more sensitive to high temperatures and require more hydration do well in these months.
    • Plant by the Moon
      Understanding the movement of the energy within plants, according to the gravitational pull of the moon, can help us grow gardens in harmony with nature’s cycles. Did you know that there is a Hawaiian name for each moon phase in a malama (Hawaiian lunar cycle)? Hilo is the name of the first moon of the malama which appears just above the western horizon at sunset. This is an excellent night to plant all kinds of plants except for bananas. For more information and for the new 2021 Hawaiian Moon Calendar click here.
    • How long do your plants need before harvest?
      Some plants have a long growing season while other plants can be grown quickly. For example, kalo can take many months before it is ready, while radishes can be ready in as little as 4 weeks! Before planting a bunch of seeds in yourgarden,research how long they take before harvest. If you plan well, you can have veggies and fruits available all year long!
  4. Share your bounty
    Harvest time is when you get the reward for all the hard work you and your family put into growing an at-home 
    garden. Sharing your harvest is one way to connect with your neighbors and community. Consider trading your veggies for other homemade goods, like breads and jams, or cook up a big meal and share with others! Either way, enjoy the benefits of having a garden at home. Not only does a garden provide health and freshness, but it also reduces your food miles, enriches the soil, and brings communities together.

We hope you enjoyed these tips on How to Plant a Garden at Home! Happy gardening!

If you are excited to get started, but want a local place to source seeds and other garden materials, check out these resources!

  • University of Hawaiʻi CTAHR Seed Library
    • Seeds grown at UH can be purchased by emailing [email protected] or printing out the form on their website and sending in payment.
  • Hawaii Seed Growers
    • The Hawai’i Seed Growers Network is a statewide group of artisanal farmers that work together to grow, develop, and bring high quality, locally grown and adapted seed to Hawaii’s gardeners and market farmers. All seeds have been properly dried, tested for germination, and stored to ensure viability. You can order from their online store.
  • Fukuda Seeds
    • This locally owned seed store has a variety of different seeds available for purchase at their store in Honolulu or at a variety of different stores across Oʻahu. They can be contacted at (808) 841-6719.
  • Koʻolau Farmers
    • With a variety of different locations across O’ahu, Koʻolau Farmers provide seeds, starts, and other gardening materials including fertilizer, soil, containers, and more!
  • Hui Kū Maoli Ola
    • Located in Kanēʻohe, Hui kū Maoli Ola is the leader in native plants! They sell their plants at their store, but also at big stores like Home Depot. If you want to add native plants to your garden, check this nursery out!
  • Check your local thrift or resale store
    • You donʻt always need fancy and expensive materials to get started growing a garden! Check your local thrift store for fun containers (i.e., buckets, baskets, bowls, mugs) and tools. Stores like Re-use Hawaiʻi sell used lumber and other materials that you can build beds and trellises out of (be sure to check that the wood is untreated). Check out our resource sheet from on how to build a simple garden bed.
  • Last but not least, the Rodale Institute is offering a FREE Victory Garden Starter Kit for families. Go here for your free kit.