As Paul has explained, the circles of the mandala give you the most fantastic easy to work in layout - (ie six circular garden beds around a center one which has a little pond ideally) ... minimising the amount of paths needed to properly access your garden beds - the theory being you should not tread in them.
Mandalas have been around for eons - a basic design often mentioned in permaculture tomes - but Linda Woodrow wrote a fantastic very easy to read book called "the Permaculture Home Garden" and took things one step further. She introduced chickens to the garden in dome-like enclosures which are moved from bed-to bed each fortnight (not too hard for one person to do this, but two people are useful to stop chickens escaping!). By this method, the chickens dig up the old beds and get them ready for planting - thereby doing all the hard work and fertilising the bed which you them plant a few days after moving them onto the next one.
If you're interested in more info, the purple pear link I put into my last post has a more expanded explanation.
We've gone with the concept because it overcomes the need to dig the garden
and it's great for the chickens which we struggle to let out because of foxes, wedgetail eagles and chicken hawks. In theory, once the system is up and running, we should not need to buy in food for the chickens as they go into the spent veggie patches and also you grow green manure in the middle for them too. It's also nice and orderly which we liked because one day this garden might be a demo one for people who visit our accommodation. And if you start to draw several mandalas together, there is some magical patterning which amused me - and I haven't even taken the usual drugs associated with hippie gardeners
Two mandalas (ie two groups of six circles) is supposed to easily rotate 12 chooks in one dome and feed a family - we thought in time we might work three or four mandalas ... in time! It's quite hard work though getting the first beds up and running, adding fruit trees and wind breaks to the edge, edge planting, etc etc. It looks like it will be worth it though.
I first got Linda's book from my library, but have now bought my own copy because it has lots of useful ideas for succession planting of each bed, so that you can time the rotation of the chickens with the life of each bed. Tricky to learn - same also goes for fruit trees which hang over the outside of the beds ... means ideally the chickens are under the tree that's fruiting to collect what falls to the ground, so as to minimise fruit fly, which we have fun with here!
Paul - because we don't drink milk or eat yoghurt and I haven't found a stash of containers, I'm thinking I might just cut some 65mm pipe into 100mm lengths to transplant into? I am finding the young plants seem to get quite knocked around when transplanting outside at the moment because it is so hot. If Lw's method works, this should be minimised .. will test the theory and report back!