Back to Eden Container Gardening: Small-Scale Permaculture

Try Back to Eden container gardening. You’ll be very pleased with the outcome. The results were just as impressive as they were in the garden.

Beans sprouting in a long green container filled with wood chips, mimicking the back to eden gardening style.

Let’s delve into the art of harmonizing the principles of Back to Eden gardening with the practicality of container gardening, creating a space where flourishing plants meet the convenience of confined spaces. Get ready to unearth the secrets of bountiful harvests and vibrant blooms as we explore the wisdom shared in the realm of Back to Eden container gardening.

I have been very impressed with the results I’ve seen in my Back to Eden vegetable garden, so naturally, I looked for new ways to implement this permaculture technique. In the past, I’ve discussed my love for container gardening. Even though my vegetable garden has grown exponentially, I still utilize containers throughout our property. I decided to try something wacky and use the principles of Back to Eden in my containers.

Wowzers! The results were just as impressive as they were in the garden.

So, I just toss in some mulch?

Although people dwell on the wood chip aspect of Back to Eden gardening, there is much more involved. I’ve got through the concept of Back to Eden in another post, so I won’t prattle on again about it. Basically, we want to recreate nature, but this time in a container. When we recreate nature, nature does the majority of the work for us. Thank you permaculture!

“Go out to where nature has not been disturbed, look at what it is doing, and copy it!” 

Paul Gautschi
Strawberries just beginning to ripen hanging out of a terra cotta pot.
Strawberries growing in a Back to Eden container.

How to Set Up Your Back To Eden Containers

An important detail when setting up your container(s) is you want to make sure there is adequate drainage. This is important in any outdoor gardening container, but even more so when you are using a system that maintains moisture as well as Back to Eden does. To improve drainage, you may want to consider adding crushed rock or gravel to the bottom of your container.

A Note on Worms

When it comes to the soil you choose, real soil from a garden or anywhere on your property beats store-bought, hands down. This is because you want all those great worms that exist in nature.

If you are stuck purchasing soil from a garden center, you will want to go to a local bait shop and purchase live bait worms. Worms are very important in Back to Eden gardening, and they will improve your container gardening experience.

The Right Wood Chips

After you’ve got your drainage holes, garden soil, and worms, you are ready to apply your wood chips. Apply 2-3 inches of wood chips to the top of your container. Remember, real wood chips are superior to garden center mulch. You want a variation in sizes and types of wood.

I get my wood chips from our local tree service, Hutch’s Tree. Make sure not to mix the wood chips into the soil as this might cause a loss of nitrogen from the soil as the wood chips break down. You may want to get your plants in place before adding the chips so you don’t risk them mixing in.

Wood chips in various sizes and colors, as well as twigs and leaves, in the back to eden garden.
Check with your local tree service to see if they offer free wood chips. You want variation in sizes and types of wood.

Back to Eden Container Garden Maintenance

Back to Eden containers require very little maintenance. Unless you are going through a serious dry spell, nature will take care of the watering. You’ll want to top-dress your container from time to time with great nutrient-rich compost. You may also find you need to fertilize from time to time.

When you deadhead or prune your plants, leave the cuttings in the container. They will add nutrients to the soil and feed the worms.

I promise, if you try Back to Eden container gardening, you’ll be very pleased with the results. As always, feel free to share your garden photos and updates on our Facebook Page.

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, adding compost is beneficial as it enhances soil fertility and provides a balanced nutrient profile, complementing the Back to Eden approach.

Absolutely! Container gardening with Back to Eden principles is versatile. Just ensure proper drainage and choose appropriate-sized containers for your plants.

Adjust the amount of wood chips accordingly. In wet climates, use a thinner layer of wood chips and ensure containers have adequate drainage holes to prevent waterlogging.

If you’ve found value in this blog post and enjoyed reading it, why not share it with your Pinterest community? Pin the image below and spread the love!

Beans sprouting in a long green container filled with wood chips, mimicking the back to eden gardening style.

So there you have it—Back to Eden container gardening is like nature’s cheat code for turning small spaces into green paradises. As you embark on this organic journey, remember that the real magic happens when you let nature do its thing. So grab your containers, some good soil, and let your plants dance to the rhythm of Back to Eden.

How do you plan to infuse a bit of Back to Eden magic into your container garden? Share your unique tips, tricks, or even your biggest plant victories in the comments below! Let’s cultivate a conversation and inspire each other’s green-thumb adventures.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


  1. Sherry Sellers says:

    I’m wondering about supplemental watering in very dry areas. My husband and I live in Sweetwater, TX and get very little rain. I’m assuming I will need to water on occasion?

  2. I have just been learning about BTE gardening as I am preparing to move from my apartment to my land. And I had wondered if it would work in my containers on my balcony. I am SO glad you have shared this information. Thank you.

  3. Betty Mullins says:

    I just yesterday learned about “Back to Eden” style of gardening and I grew up on a farm. Well, my brothers and dad tilled the ground but they added many of the same materials that Eden suggests, such as garden waste and animal waste. My dad called it “feeding the garden”. I now live in an apartment so will prepare some pots soon to try my Eden approach.

    Thank you for wonderful information.

  4. Mike the Gardener says:

    What have you had the most success growing using this method?

  5. So you mention top dressing with compost from time to time. As I understand it, it is a layer of gravel at the bottom, soil, then top dress with the wood chips. After you add the compost, say, every six months, do you ever repeat the process? As in, more wood chips over the top dressing of compost in the container? Thanks!

    1. Jessica Lane says:

      As it rains and you water your containers, the compost will trickle into the wood chips and add nutrients to the soil. You just want to sprinkle the compost when you are top dressing. After some time, you may notice your wood chips have broken down significantly. Once they have broken down, you’ll want to add a fresh new layer of wood.