Outdoors, Green Living, Homesteading, Sustainable living, Green Building

Types of Gardening

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In this article I plan on listing, defining and mentioning a few things that maybe you have not heard of or thought about.

Square Foot Gardening

Garden box style gardening where a grid is placed over the soil using wooden lattice or anything that might form a grid with 1 square foot of space in each grid cell. This style of gardening can make keeping stats on your production easy. Also its an attractive way to layout plants. Plants are laid out in a grid fashion within each square foot 2×2, 3×3, 4×4 and maybe 5×5 or greater in some cases for things like wheat that grow very close together. Its a matter of density. Some experimentation would be needed for the individual to determine exactly how densely each plant type may need to be planted. Some plants use more than one square foot per plant also. Large vines such as tomatoes and water melons might require 9 ft2. However you can get away with planting these in the corners and along sides to make the most use of the garden box. Some plants grow vertical as well and require a vertical grid, also square foot just to keep things pretty. Square foot gardening typically requires a soil mix of 6″ to 1′ deep. Some plants such as potatoes and carrots require deeper soil. This mix is generally 1:1:1 topsoil/manure/peat(or compost) For more information and other general gardening info look at my article titled Square Foot Gardening

Square Meter Gardening

This is the same thing as square foot gardening yet for scientific and non-American(English standard) style. Simply measure and adapt
spacing for metric. In this case you might actually have a half meter grid lattice.


This is a German word for Hill (mound) Culture. In this style of gardening you bury wood which over time rots and acts like a sponge for the holding of moisture. This can be made like mound or like a swale(hole, pit) or a combination. The wood/manure combined is covered in compost, soil and mulch. Over time (even up to 20 years) the wood is converted to Humas(Organic soil). This can in turn be dug up and mixed with other garden soils. The wood also absorbs nitrogen from the manure and later as it rots gives it back to plants.


Permanent Culture or Permanent Agriculture began in Australia and spread to hippies and environmentalist everywhere, and others with sustainability on their minds. I don’t fully understand this yet except to say a few things about it. Its supposed to be a system that never fails in that it returns to the soil that which was taken. Its a perpetual self sustaining way to produce food. Ideally the food should be produced very close to the residence. Even in greenhouses that are part of the residence itself.

Row (Cultivated Farrow)

This is conventional farming where fields are plowed. To be honest, we can’t all live on a homestead and produce our own food. There is simply too many people on this planet for that. This system is setup so that men and equipment can easily navigate the rows of plants for harvesting and other activities. I’m certainly not against this method of gardening or farming. However it depletes the soil over time. And what happens when we run out of soil? Billions will starve to death. Some solutions need to be found a soon as possible to solve this one looming problem. Soil conservation services has done much to slow down the problem yet not solve the problem. Please recall the Easter Island folks who died because they cut down all their trees.


This is a type of lazy way to mix the soil and build soil. On top of open ground you lay down alternating layers of compost, peat, topsoil, manure or whatever else you intend to mix. I’ve read that newspaper is placed between layers but I don’t have any idea why (maybe weed control). I’d guess you make your lasagna rows about 4 feet wide and any length desired. I’d also go with plastic and mulch on top myself. Mulch being wood bark or chips and or straw.

Field (Not cultivated)

I think this is like Forrest yet you plant basically in amongst the grass or weeds in a field. You simply let your plants compete with whatever is there. If you find something to harvest at harvest time then great. If you discover one plant type that does particularly well against its competitors then add it to a list of plants to replant this way the following year.

Fedge (Food Hedge)

I think this combines shrubs, and vines and ground plants to make a hedge that produces food. This may be in combination with other hedge type plants also.

Forest (Food Forest)

In this method a person will plant types of plants that do well among various types of taller shrubs and trees and along the edges of glades(open areas). Plants with varying needs for light and moisture will be worked together. This is a fairly dense form of gardening and was likely the first form. In this form you also try to locate natural growing food items from the area and seed or transplant them into your forest garden.


These are gardens created for the study of certain types of plants. Its also for the preservation of certain types of plants. These are usually created by wealthy individuals or societies who dedicate the garden for use in the study. Monasteries for example are famous for having wonderful Botanical Gardens. Books are produced as a result of the gardens and usually they are landscaped beautifully open for tour. For example in Savannah Georgia there is a garden with 150 varieties of Bamboo, 45 varieties of blackberry vines and 35 varieties of palm trees. If you search your home area it is likely that you will find several botanical gardens that will be worth a visit.


This is too well known to talk about, but usually only entails low to the ground plants. I don’t know of any vegetable producing tree for example.


What can I say about this that you don’t know? This can be plants of many types and sizes. From ground covering plants, to vines, to shrubs to trees. And by the way we all know a Tomato is actually a fruit right? Its a huge Berry. A pumpkin is a fruit? actually its a squash, so a vegetable?


Orchards are of course trees that bear fruits or nuts and are an integral part of forest gardening. Orchards may even be grown in green houses.


Herbs are for spices or medicines and can include any type of plants. A friend recently showed me lemon grass which can be used in place of lemon for flavor and a plant that has very sweet leaves which can be used as a sugar substitute. Herb gardens per pound of produce can be quit profitable. Or they can save you a lot of money. Recently I noticed there were half a dozen types of sage seeds I could buy. I love sage in sausage. I’ve found that many herbs do well in shady conditions.

Green house

A green house is a structure with many windows all the way around or at least on one side or part of it. Or it is made so that much of the roof and wall spaces are for letting sun light in. More than for letting light in its for keeping heat in. A non heated green house can grow plants from one USDA zone warmer than the green house is constructed in. This means earlier planting times and longer growing season. A green house can be constructed adjacent to a house to provide heat for a living space in winter as well as easy to access food. Wood or metal frames are used for construction for holding glass or plastic. The glass or plastic may be clear or translucent. Glass blocks radiant heat whereas plastic allows it to pass. Glass therefore helps to hold the heat in better. With plastic its better if you have 2 layers with dead air space. By plastic I mean plastic in rolls or hard sheets such as plexi glass. One interesting idea i heard about was in the use of boat(marine) shrink wrap over a frame. I think this comes in 9 and 11 mil thickness. Though it will degrade over time from UV exposure its possible you may get a couple of years out of one covering.

Cold Frame

A box with a glass or plastic lid. The lid can be either horizontal or at a slope facing the sun. This is used in same way as green house but for early starting of plant seedlings. In some cases some plants are left in the cold frame for their full life cycle. The frames usually can be lifted to allow for ventilation and watering. One version of this concept uses cold framed holes for better use of
ground temperatures. One version of that has straw bales for the sides of the cold frame box. A nice cold box for starting plants would be aquariums with lids. The Cold Frame can give you the same growing effect as a green house in that it would allow you to grow at 1 USDA zone to the south, if unheated (most if not all are unheated(except by composting below for example)).

Hoop House (poly tunnel)

This is a very cheap and easy to construct form of green house. Its in the shape of a Quonset hut. You make stakes from rebar so that they are in the ground about 1/2 to 1 foot at angles and stick up about 1/2 to 1 foot. Using 1″ PVC pipes bowed to half circle shape placed over the bars forming hoops. Metal conduit may be used as well. Using the same pipe you form diagonal bracing along the sides and one horizontal brace along the top. Then cover with some flexible covering such as clear or translucent plastic or shrink wrap. These can be made to about any size. These might require some vents. And they can be heated. The down side is that storm damage may occur mostly from wind.

Agra-dome (Geodesic or other)

This is green house in the shape of a dome. These are not simple to construct depending. If you want glass panes then I’d say they are the most difficult to construct. The best idea I’ve heard so far for an easy to build dome is to make your dome then shrink wrap it with marine boat wrap. You can get this is 9 to 11 mil thickness, clear or translucent. Note that the shrink wrap will degrade due to UV exposure over time and have to be replaced.


This is a small planter in your house with a glass or plastic cover. Could be also inside of an aquarium. Instead of containing a single plant it usually contains many packed densely. This is for plants what the aquarium is for fish. Its usually not for food production. However on a larger scale could it be used in such a way?

Container Pots

I won’t say much about container gardens, there are plenty of good books on the subject. Basically you use any container you can find, by filling it with a custom made potting soil, gravel and sand. Addition of drain holes may be required. What are the advantages of container gardens? They can be moved around. Can be moved indoor to outdoor and back. Can be attractive landscape feature. Can be used on concrete, pavement and brick ways, stairs, patios, and balconies. Can be hung from structures and trees. Can be placed on shelving and tables.


Same as container but uses cheap easy to find buckets. Such as 5 gal plastic painters buckets. Have handles for easy moving. Global Buckets is an interesting idea that uses 5 gal buckets.


This is a form of gardening where soil is not in use. Sand and gravel may be used but doesn’t have to be used at all. In some cases roots grow and hang below a starting material. In the case of plants grown in gravel or sand mineral and nutrient rich water is pumped or flows through the gravel or sand and feeds the roots. In the case of hanging roots mineral and nutrient rich water is sprayed on the roots for flows around the roots. This setup requires pumping systems that’s are not cheap, prone to failure and use power.


This combines aquaculture and hydroponics. Aquaculture is the growing of fish and water plants that feed the fish together. This produces a nutrient rich water that can be feed to the hydroponics farm. Water can be filtered and circulated back to the fish pond. Shrimp or crayfish can be part of an aquaponics setup as well as fish. Though we normally hear of the African Tilapia being used.

Water Gardens

Water gardens are more for landscaping than for production of food however in the case of plants such as rice and in aquaponics they can be useful for production. Water gardens of course are for growing plants that like semi-wet to very-wet soil to underwater plants. One under(salt)water plant that is edible I’d say that we have all heard of is kelp. I’m sure there are more than we know of that grow in fresh water. How about Chestnuts? Try growing rice in 5 gallon buckets or plastic tubs.


A swale is a swamp or marsh or underground porous area near the surface that can hold water or moisture like a tank. A swale can be in the shape of a ditch or bowl or hole. Its simply a spongy low place in the terrain for collection of rain water and ground water or run-off. And its a sneaky place to store water in areas where the laws prohibit the collection of water in rain barrels. A swale can be natural or man made. For example a hole filled with stone and gravel or sand would hold quit a lot of water. An advantage of a swale or any underground storage is that the water is not evaporated by the sun. Your trees, shrubs and garden plants can then draw water from this swale.

Zai Desert Farming

This type of farming was invented in the African desert in order to reclaim the desert around towns. Basically a grid of holes are dug in the sand and they are filled with manure (probably from any source). I don’t know if sand is mixed with the manure or not. Or if other composted plant matter is mixed. The hole on top is left in a bowl shape to aid in water collection and retention. Rice and Wheat and other crops are planted in this manure hole. This prevents the soil/sand from eroding and makes good use of desert terrain. Larger plants then grow up in the same area and turn desert to oasis.


Organic farming is the attempt to produce food without the aid of commercial fertilizers and pesticides. I like having options myself so I see no harm in using organic fertilizers such as bone meal, blood meal, feather meal, cotton seed meal, fish meal etc. However I see no real reason myself for not using commercial fertilizer if its available except in the case where you want to advertise “Organically Grown”. There are also organic methods for deterring deer, rabbits and insects. In the case of insects what one must do is ensure plenty of predation, meaning attracting predator insects and birds or other critters. There is one problem I agree with when it comes to the use of chemical pesticides and that is that it is a “nuclear” attack. Meaning it kills all insects good or bad with extreme prejudice but without discrimination. In effect it could make great predator free romping ground for the bad insects.


Not much to say here. I think of typical landscaping when I think of this. However there are some really beneficial flowering plants to add to your other gardens. Lavender for example deters deer. Some may deter certain harmful insects. And of course sun flowers produce great edible seeds and oils.


This comes from the orient and is a form of the growing of trees as shrubs in containers. Basically if you took a large tree and planted it in a container, the small amount of soil restricts its growth so that it is very dwarf like. It would be possible for example to grow what would be a 379′ red wood tree in a flower pot in your house as a house plant. Also the gardeners tend to train(bend) limbs as they grow to form certain attractive shapes.


Really a type of container garden where one container is suspended above another. Troughs are used a lot for this type. And this type is combined sometimes with hydroponics or aquaponics.


Suspended container gardens.

Raised beds

Garden beds are build up with some kind of containing frame made of
any material imaginable. Wood is often used to form a box. Height can be anything from 1′ to 2.5′ on average or possibly higher. These do not have to be square and can be round or any shape. They are usually not wider than 4 feet if accessed from both sides. Soil for these boxes is prepared in much the same way as for container gardens. Something like 1:1:1 Manure/compost/peat or manure/compost/top soil. These type of gardens are not cultivated and are relatively weed and grass free if one is careful. The height means the gardener does not have to position himself as low to the ground to do the tending.

Window or Window Box

Google for ‘window farms’ to see some interesting ideas for making vertical hydroponic gardens from 2 liter coke bottles in your home windows. Outside and inside window boxes and plants in containers on window seals are common. Might be nice to have half shaped hexagon box widows for each window of the house. Herbs and greens would be easy to grow here.


Moss is not usually edible but for some reason people like moss
gardens. They are attractive. They would make a nice attractive addition to any of the other types of gardens. People usually search the local area for the moss and transplant it to their garden. Vines and ferns go well with moss, as well as rocks, water and dead wood. I’ve seen people collect the moss and rock together to have a more natural look.


Some plants love to be planted near other plants and some hate other plants apparently. People have come up with list of plants where some like each other others love one another. And some just make more sense when planted with others such as the Native American beans, corn and squash combination.

Inter-planted or Intensive

A friend of mine plants garden boxes in this manner. She has worked out certain combinations that seem to work best for her. Its somewhat like companion planting. It also means planting densely similar to square foot gardening. I have no real guidelines for this. Try different combinations for yourself to see what works best.

Straw Bale

In this method you lay down soil on top of straw bales(or hay) and then plant in that soil. The roots of the plants drop down into the straw. The straw is supposed to hold moisture. Though I’ve heard only when its a bit rotted. This method literally gets your garden off the ground quickly. One method is to buy soil in bags and lay them on top of the bales the first year. Just split the bags and plant. Poke holes in the bags below your plants. Next year remove the plastic completely. I might think certain plants would love this method more than others. Experimentation would be required.

Artificially Lighted

Some gardens can grow inside. Special lights or light bulbs can aid in plant growth because they put out all the same light frequencies as the sun. These are called full spectrum lights. There are different kinds and some use more power than others. There is a ton of information on the web about this, and stores are popping up here and there to cater to the medical weed business. Also it might be good to consider grow lights over plants in shady areas and in windows. Professional photographers use photo umbrellas to direct light. These can be useful in the growing situation as well.

Roof Garden

Usually these are on flat roofs in urban areas.

Terraced Gardens

In very steep terrain or yards. terraces provide a way to make flat land from steep land. Also water may flow from higher terrace to lower ones for easy irrigation.


Not like hydroponic. I’m not sure what this is.

Guerrilla Garden(Vigilante Garden)

This is where you garden on land you don’t own or have a right to use. For example Marijuana growers use government lands. Mostly this is talking about urban dwellers using vacant lots or highway land or other non used commercial or industrial lands. Though I might be inclined to spread native plants around on government lands if I were there harvesting. Such as Muscadine, Huckle Berry, Ginseing.


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  1. Pingback: 5 main areas of life when prepping for Survival « Larry D Gray

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