Compact gardening – Part 1

Introduction to compact gardening

Compact Gardening 1

This is part one in a series of articles on the subject compact gardening. I will show a number of different techniques, design methods and tips for you to be able to plan and plant your own garden – regardless of the size of land you have access to (even for no land at all).

Compact gardening? What is that?

Compact gardening is a collective term for different methods that can be used to grow vegetables, herbs etc which makes it possible to achieve a large yield on a very small plot of land with the help of planning and methods that give enough nutrition to the soil – without using artificial fertilizers or chemical pesticides.

Who needs this?

These articles are for people who are curious about starting to cultivate their own garden, or those who already do cultivate a garden and want some new inspiration. A small balcony/terrace, backyard/allotment or even a space indoors or a single window is sufficient to utilize the methods described here. Why not join some colleagues and create a mini garden at work? Fresh vegetables for lunch is great!

I will (among other) talk about:

  • Materials/containers for cultivation
  • Design methods and planning of spaces to make the most out of them
  • Cultivation methods for sustainable results
  • Fertilization and pest control with natural methods
  • Alternative cultivation methods, for instance aquaponics
  • Sources and tips on where you can learn more

Why am I writing these articles?

Around 2010 to 2012 I gave similar workshops at my own farm Quinta da Mandrágora in Portugal. I wanted to share the knowledge I gained in the Permaculture course I took atPermaculturevisions.

I want to show that it is possible for anyone to grow their own utility plants, almost regardless of the available space. Having more contact with nature makes you appreciate it more and it is inspiring to see how much you can actually do on your own.
Questions and comments from you readers are highly appreciated since I plan to summarize and publish the material in printed form at a later time as well as use it for physical workshops. You can contact me via contact (at) in case you see something which needs improvement or if you have some other comment.

What is Permaculture?

Permaculture stands for permanent agriculture, but it is a lot more than that! It is a design system which can be used for creating sustainable solutions for both food production and housing as well as for larger industries. It is not just something for hippies, but something which can be applied on far larger scales. It is about utilizing the existing structures and functions in nature to optimize the value you can retrieve out of a system, at the same time as it respects the environment and minimizes the manual labor needed. The methods can also be used for regenerating areas which have been damaged by exploitation or natural disasters. Read more about Permaculture here.

Let’s get started

The goal with these articles is to give you the tools and skills needed to grow your own crops in a small space, without needing to use a bunch of chemicals. Starting on a small scale is great when beginning to cultivate. Many do the mistake of taking on more than they can handle, dig up half their garden at home and become overwhelmed with the amount of work and knowledge needed to make it all work. It is better to start small and expand gradually.

We will be working with small spaces that are easy to overview and stay in control of. You will immediately see if something is working or not. The methods you will learn are also great for lazybones. Less digging and hard work – more time to enjoy your mini garden and your harvest.
I will mainly focus on utility plants since I prefer growing crops with a further use than just being pretty to look at. But these methods work just as well in case you just want to enjoy beautiful flowers or give new life to your pot plants.

Since this article is mainly an introduction to the coming articles I want to give you something practical to start with. I want you to think about what types of vegetables, herbs, flowers and other plants you would like to have in your garden. For instance you can start with writing down what you like to eat, if you have some plants that you would like to use in cosmetic products, plants for dyeing plant fibers and of course plants you find beautiful. Next article will be about how to choose plants and different requirements for being successful in the cultivation of them. Write down a list but limit it to no more than 15 different types to start with (preferably less).

Activities for you

Each article will contain a question for you to reflect upon and which hopefully incites some discussion. You will also receive a small task to perform after each part. Here is the question and task of today:

Question: How could you be more ecological in your every day life? – Share your tips!

Activity: Purchase or sow at least one plant to have at home – a pot with herbs is enough. Use the tips from the coming articles to take care of it in the best way possible. Photograph and tell others about your plant(s) and growing projects with the help of the hashtag:


Compact Gardening 1

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About Veronica (166 Articles)
Veronica is the founder of With one foot in the past and one in the future she takes inspiration from older aesthetics and ideas to apply them in updated form today. She is passionate about teaching timeless skills and believes that the world needs more polymaths.

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