Because some of us don't yet have a yard. So I'm a wage slave in good old Portlandia. I live in an apartment yet I love ipthe idea of permaculture and try to be as self sustaining as is possible. I figured there has to be a few others like me, so I desided to make a topic about permaculture principles on a patio setting. Even if you aren't in our position, but have a great idea to help us out feel free to chime in.
First let me leave my favorite trick; stacking pots. This is based on similar ideas to the herb spiral, but more mobile and patio friendly. You will need: 1 Peice of rebar (size 3-6 feet depending how high you want to stack and how high your apartments will let you), 1 large pot, 2-8 medium to small pots, and dirt. You begin by placing the rebar in the bottom hole of the biggest pot, then fill that pot with dirt, adding a little gravel at the bottom is preferred but not required. Once the pot is full, slide the second pot over the top of the rebar. Once at the bottom tilt it so it sits diagonal instead of up strait. Fill with dirt. Slide the next pot down but place it diagonal at the opposite angle leaving maximum soil exposure to sun. Repeat till finished. This allows you to plant several herbs and small plants where before you could only fit one. Also while this is just my theory it sounds soild to me; planting soil fixing plants on the top layers should fix the minerals in all pots by simply watering on top only and letting the water drain down carrying the nutrients with it.
Well there is my tip, if there is any other wannabe permies like me stuck in a wage slave/apartment situation then please chime in with your ideas.
almost anything can be grown in pots if the pots are large enough and well enough maintained..even saw in one of my books where people had a large enough "bed" think it was 4x4..they were growing sweet corn in a bedlike container..and it worked for them !! corn is wind pollinated so it might be a little more difficult, however, you can hand pollinate smaller quantities of plants so why not.
myself I HATE watering pots..so it wouldn't work for me, but if you are more disciplined when it comes to caring for pots..I dont' see why you couldn't do as many as you can fit and find soil and seeds to fill them..you couild even put the little mini dwarf fruittrees and grape vines into pots..
Bloom where you are planted.
I was actually going to get a tree a bit later in the year, it's a camellia I forget the exact variety but it's used for tea. I figured I can save 10 bucks a month if I can drink home grown tea as opposed to store bought tea/coffee.
Fellow Portlandian ex-pat chiming in from Argentina. As with your stacked pot idea, keep thinking along the vertical dimension. One idea is to plant a squash plant and train the vines upward with heavy string along the walls or other vertical surfaces of your patio. You might be able to use stickable wall hooks (for managing the string) that are heavy duty enough so as not to drill any holes in the rental property. Careful with the paint though. Is your landlord / property manager okay with the idea of doing limited drilling or anything like that for pot-hangers?
Another idea for composting, is simply throwing your kitchen wastes directly into your pots if the plants can tolerate it. While living in an apartment with a balcony - I've tried composting in large 10 gallon paint buckets and everything works fine until you need to stir it or extract the finished compost from the bottom. I've found that can be extremely messy and awkward without a proper yard. Therefore "composting in place" i.e. directly among the growing plants is a good option.