Many homes, particularly in towns and cities, have little or no room for growing vegetables. However, outside many homes is an area of ground that could be used to make a small garden.

Mark out a space the size of a door or bed. Dig out the soil until it is nearly knee-deep. If the soil is very hard this will not be easy! Lots of people working together will help. Keep the fertile topsoil (darker colour) separate from the subsoil (lighter colour and more stones).

Line the hole with grass and leaves. Encourage families to bring their household waste of vegetable peelings, waste paper and eggshells for that day, and tip it into the hole. Add animal manure if available. When the pit is half full pour on water to soak the waste. Then add the subsoil, followed by the topsoil.

Plant vegetable seeds and herbs. Useful plants include tomatoes, spinach, traditional leafy vegetables, peppers, beans, onions and all kinds of herbs. Plant taller plants such as tomatoes and climbing beans in the middle. Cover with a thin layer of grass, straw, rice husks or similar and water well.


  • How many homes are there in our area where this idea could be tried? Could this idea be used in refugee camps?
  • This idea often works best if a number of families agree to work together, building one garden each week. How could this work in our community?
  • Would there be enough waste water from washing available for such a small garden? (Very soapy water should not be used, but rinse water can be used.)
  • How useful would it be to have a regular supply of fresh herbs and vegetables next to the house? Would a door-sized garden improve our meals?
  • What problems would there be in caring for such a garden (for example, keeping away goats, chickens or thieves)? How could they be solved?