A case study about balcony gardening for beginners. A story of how one person takes that important first step by starting a small garden on her balcony.

This post is a bit of a different post from what I usually post. It is a fictional inspirational story of how gardening can start small with just a simple act of buying one planter of strawberries from a nursery. I hope you enjoy it!

Case study summary for “Balcony Barbara”:

  • 25 year old single woman
  • Works in a law office
  • Rents an apartment in the city with a small 4’x10’ balcony
  • Skips breakfast or grabs something on the way in to work
  • Usually eats out at lunch
  • Usually warms up a frozen dinner
  • Spends her spare time indoors in her apartment

How her life will change with just a few containers of vegetable and fruit plants on her apartment balcony: 

  • enjoy a healthy breakfast on the balcony before work by picking some strawberries
  • make a healthy salad to have at lunchtime with tomatoes, lettuce and cucumber
  • come home and pick a pepper and make a healthy stirfry for dinner with leftovers for lunch the next day
  • relax on her balcony with a book and a nice cup of mint herbal tea in the evening or weekend surrounded by greenery

 

Background

Barbara is a 25 year old single woman living in an apartment in the city. She works at a law office as a young lawyer.

Her life revolves around her work. She often works overtime at the office or at home and as a result her diet is unhealthy. She usually skips breakfast and grabs something on the way in to work.

frozen-food

Working lunches are the norm and thus she rarely packs a lunch, instead grabbing something from the coffee shop on the first floor if lunch is not being provided by the office.

By the time she gets home, she is so tired that she just warms up a frozen dinner in the microwave.

She has a small balcony but uses it to store her bicycle which she rarely uses and some other miscellaneous items that should really go into her storage locker. Thus she spends most of her time at home sitting indoors on her couch with her laptop watching videos and reading blogs to unwind from work.

A new start?

At her last doctor’s visit, her doctor was quite concerned about some of the results of her blood tests. He advised her to start looking at her diet and eat healthier. 

One day Barbara comes across an article on a blog about balcony gardening. At first glance she skips over it thinking it is not for her, but it accidentally (or is it really an accident?) ends up in her browser’s reading list and she comes across it again a few days later as she is looking up another article she had added to the list. She decides to read it out of sheer curiosity, thinking that it probably isn’t for her.

The article covers some simple tips to start a balcony garden. The idea that resonates most with Barbara is growing strawberries – she loves strawberries!

The challenge

Barbara is very skeptical and all she can think of is “I don’t have the time to do this!” However the article ends with a challenge to just do one of the suggested steps and to actually schedule it into your calendar.

strawberry-planter

Since she likes challenges, she grabs her phone and puts an entry in her calendar for this coming Sunday “Buy a planter of strawberries from the local nursery”. Where is the nearest nursery? Her phone’s assistant suggests a location and she realizes it is on the way to Sunday brunch at her friend’s place instead of the usual brunch out at a local restaurant.

On the way home on Sunday she stops at the nursery, but still with some doubts. Why is she doing this? She doesn’t have a green thumb and all it will be is a bunch of extra work that she doesn’t have time for. But something is pulling her to do this. 

At the nursery she gets some help from the staff to pick out a planter of strawberries. They already have some small berries on them and lot of white flowers. The staff give her some care tips – mainly watering – and she heads home with what will be the first of many purchases at the same nursery.

The start of a balcony garden

At home, she realizes he doesn’t really have a place to put the planter. She moves a few things to her storage locker and for now leaves the bike and a few other larger items as she doesn’t have room elsewhere.

She finds room for the planter and realizes she doesn’t have a watering can. However while drinking a cup of coffee later, she laughs at herself for being so silly – she can use the cup to water her planter. Simple solution to a simple problem, something she read about in the blog article.

She decides that this first step should be celebrated, so she posts a photo on Facebook of her strawberry planter and mentions the blog post where she got the inspiration from. She gets a flood of likes and people encouraging her to continue to read the blog and follow some of the other suggestions.

A discovery

Life gets busy and other than watering her planter once a day (or once every few days when she forgets) she doesn’t think too much more about her very small balcony garden.

However one morning when she waters, she notices that there are five strawberries that look ripe. At least the colour is the same as the ones that come on the fruit platters that she just picks at during the job supplied lunches. Actually hers are redder.

She picks them all and bites into one to try it and is amazed at the sweetness and flavour. It is nothing like the bland, tasteless ones she is used to.

strawberries-in-cereal

Barbara takes the other four berries and puts them in her almost empty fridge, thinking they would taste good on cereal for breakfast. She realizes she doesn’t have any cereal or milk so makes a mental note to pick some up on the way home from work.

The next morning she has her bowl of cereal, milk and the strawberries. She laps up the milk left in the bowl, now turned pink from the strawberry juice and tasting oh so sweet! She realizes what she has missed.

peppermint-teaOver the course of the next month she visits the nursery again to buy a container that has a tomato plant, lettuce plants and some green onions – a container salad garden. She looks forward to the fresh salad she will be able to make and take to work for lunch. A friend of hers gifts her a mint plant as she loves drinking mint tea.

Next will be some furniture shopping for a small table and two chairs. She really has the bug now!

To be continued…

Did you enjoy this case study? Would you like to hear more of Barbara’s story? Let me know in the comments below.

You can print out this article if you wish. Just hit the print button ->

If you enjoyed this article, have something to add or have any questions, please leave a comment below!

Marc Thoma Signature

Marc Thoma

Tranquil Garden Urban Homestead, Victoria, BC

 

Marc Thoma

Marc is the founder of Tranquil Garden. He has more than 15 years gardening experience and is working steadily towards his own tranquil garden.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Yes I would, Marc. And I hope that the blog she read was yours.😄

  2. Thanks Lyn, I’ll consider writing more about Barbara’s story when I feel inspired to do so. I also have two other fictional case studies I could write about. But I also want to find someone who is a real life case study – that might be more useful.

    Yes, maybe it was my blog she read – mind you I would need to write that specific blog post she supposedly read as it doesn’t yet exist on the blog!

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