A short history of keyhole gardening. Most of the hard work is done by the micro-organisms in the garden … Depending on the size of your area, you'll want to make a garden that's about three feet tall and six feet in diameter. An African keyhole garden is basically a small scale intensive raised bed growing system that is fed through a central composting system which is made in the design of a basket to allow water and nutrients to access the soil where the plants are growing. There are actually two different keyhole garden designs. A keyhole garden has the ability to use very little water (only a gallon a day in slightly cooler weather), especially if you make a cover for your composter. The basket is built to take in compost over time. If this is the case, you will need to water your garden frequently. What Plants Do Well in a Keyhole Garden? A keyhole garden is an ongoing project. All kinds of plants can be planted in a keyhole garden. • Clean water is used on the topsoil. Now that you’ve made a raised garden bed, you might be wondering how best to fill it.Raised garden beds usually need a mixture of soil and compost. Rocks, brick, and wood are all great building materials here. An overhead view of this type of raised bed would look like a large keyhole in a circular plot with easy access to the center basket where vegetable scraps and other green matter containing water are added. Your keyhole garden will now grow delicious, healthy vegetables all year round. (I did water the soil when the plants were very young). If you’re deadset on planting a keyhole garden, it’s probably because you live in an arid climate. I dropped compostable materials into the column. Initially, you should water the plants until they become established, then you can just water the center basket to maintain your garden over time. The column is also where you should water your garden. Building Your Own Keyhole Garden. They produce nutrient-rich crops. Consisting of several layers of mulch, earth and other easy to gather materials, keyhole gardens offer a number of important advantages: They are highly sustainable. One originated in Africa, is a raised bed, and incorporates a compost pile in the center. Keeping the Garden Growing. How do you make one? These keyhole garden beds were designed to enable the sick to have a kitchen garden close to the house that was easy for them to work in. Maintenance of the keyhole garden Watering • The garden should be watered regularly so that the garden soil is moist. I couldn’t find photos of my keyhole garden in Texas, but I can tell you how mine worked. Crops Not Recommended For a Keyhole Garden I made a column of chicken wire to hold the compost, and set it in the middle. Congratulations! A keyhole garden is a small garden with a unique, keyhole shape. • Water from washing hands, laundry, or dishes is poured into the basket. Keyhole gardens also provide a significant amount of food for such a small footprint. Over time this will decay down, and nutrients from it will leach into the garden as you water it or it rains. This prevents the water from evaporating as quickly. Try using gray water, or clean wastewater, to save money and reduce your environmental impact. Add already composted material, or compostable food waste, to the compost basket in the center of the keyhole garden. But, the best plants would be root plants such as carrots, beets, radishes, and leafy vegetables like spinach, lettuce, and herbs. You can mix the soil in with the compost thoroughly, or layer them, which is known as lasagna gardening. The nutrients and enough water supply would allow them to grow healthy. The first thing you’ll need to do when building your own keyhole garden is to come up with a plan for it. You can get more information on the Gardening Channel blog, here… DIY Cinder Block Keyhole Garden. 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