How to Build a Permaculture Vegetable Garden

– Tiny Eglington’s method, educator Geoff Lawton

This is a photo report of a vegetable garden built for Ann Foster in Condobolin, NSW Australia, which shows basic steps that allow you to build your own permaculture veggie patch.


You don’t need much, but you do need:

  • compost
  • any ruminant manure
  • lime
  • cardboard (or hessian bags)
  • Lucerne hay (or any acacia leaves)
  • straw (seedless)
  • water
  • plants and seed

The basic tools:

  • shovel
  • rake
  • sharp knife/screwdriver (for punching hole in cardboard)
  • hose/watering can
  • wheelbarrow

How to built a permaculture vegetable garden – the steps

Check out the site, discuss possibilities where to set up the garden.

Explore the present vegetation, and determine its qualities and uses.

Clearing the site of weeds and grass, evaluate locations and levels for the trenches.

Dig trenches (levelled), the soil from the trench is put on the garden beds.

Dig out the trenches a bit more, level the beds. Try and keep the bottom of the
trenches level, so they fill evenly with water.

Add manure (sheep manure in this case), put it on as thick as you can, don’t
worry if some falls down in the trenches. Then sprinkle a bit of lime.

Wet the cardboard and place it over the bed, in the trenches as well,
approximately 3 layers thick.

Also hessian (jute) bags work, similar procedure, 1 layer thick.

Cover with Lucerne hay or any acacia leaves, then a layer of straw (seedless).
Cover the trenches with straw as well to minimize evaporation.

Fill the trenches with water (you can check here how you’ve done with
levelling, by letting the water in from one point (set up dams) till completely
full and decided where your 1 watering point will be. You can put a short
pipe in the top of the dam to overflow into the next trench. Notice
capillary rise is working, the water making its way up into the bed.

Get your plants and seed! Check a companion planting guide for good
combinations of plants. I like to check the moon planting guide and practice
it when possible. Using hybrids or non hybrids is up to you but non hybrids are
sustainable by collecting your own seed.

Separate plants where possible and cut holes in the card board
(only big enough for the tap root to go through), make a cup in the
straw and fill with compost and plant the plants or seed.

Concerning planting space, consider the size of the plants when they are
fully grown; the whole bed is covered with vegetables, including down
the sides to the water mark. The new plants and seeds have to be watered
from the top (daily in the summer) until the tap root goes through the
hole, then it will receive its water from the trenches.

A permaculture vegetable garden can be built at any size. From a few pots to a 1000 acre property.

How to Maintain – tips and tricks


Again: The new plants and seeds have to be watered from the top until the tap root goes through the hole, then it will receive its water from the trenches. Every area is different (depending on rainfall and soil types). Eg. in Cunnamulla, western Queensland, temperatures were in the high thirties, with no rain, so had to fill the trenches every 7 days.


Chelsea Green Publishing Gaia's Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture, 2nd Edition
Book (Chelsea Green Publishing)

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  • Avatar i like your jeans. What is the importance of vegetable/herbs in a permaculture garden?
    Oct 04, 2007 by i like your jeans. | Posted in Garden & Landscape

    I need some help with this because i cant find it on the internet

    it would also help if you told me the importance of:
    water tanks

    in a permaculture garden


    • We plant in guilds many of those have herbs included because so many work as deterrents for pests ,or are good companions to other plants

      For example at the base of Tomato plants we put ,oreg …eck my 360 page under starred questions Permaculturre answers there

      and Permaculture bella has all the internet links you could possibly want
      this book the designers manual costs about 40 dollars