Make your own Keyhole Garden

The new style of Key Hole Gardening got its name from its shape and is perfect for anyone who wants to retain water and grow plants in any climate.

This type of home gardening was developed by C-SAFE to help African residences conserve rainwater runoff resources while gardening. This new style of gardening started in Mapoteng, Lenkoane, Malumeng, Taung, Kota, Makanametsung, and Sekameng.

Make a Keyhole Garden like the children of Lesotho:

These places are in a dry climate. If you live in a dry climate this maybe ideal for you.

This new style focuses on land reclamation, water retention, homestead gardening, conservation farming, and in some cases small dam construction.

This style keeps in mind that many members of these homesteads are disabled and abled alike. This is not unlike the rest of the planet.

To create one you will need ash, weeds, aloe, and manure to start off.

Find or level off an area of ground six and a half feet in diameter. Be sure its near some home water run off source.

Mark the perimeter of the center water catch basket with four sticks. The diameter of the center basket will be sixteen inches wide and about five feet tall. That measurement can change based on your situation.

Tie the four sticks together with string, or tall grass. Line the basket with a permeable lining. The lining doesnt need to be secured to anything but the top of the four sticks. The sides will raise as refuse compost and dirt is piled against it in the next few steps.

At the outer perimeter there will eventually be a wall of flat stones around six by three by two iches (thats the X, Y, & Z of the stones themselves). These stones will gradually be built up to be four and half feet high.

Dont forget to leave space for the keyhole inlet to one side of the inner basket. This keyhole will one point five feet wide.

The entrance to the basket, via the keyhole, has to be six point five feet wide. That measurement is flexible. The general standard is six point five in most gardens.

The keyhole entrance funnels to the one point five foot bottleneck abruptly, or gradually. That depends on your personal taste.

For the actual garden section, between the inner water run off basket and the outer:

  • The floor of the garden, has kitchen scraps
  • The first flat stones described above are piled randomly around the scraps to aerate the recycled meat and other organic material.
  • Then first layer of compost described at the beginning of this article are poured about
  • Sticks, twigs and dry leaves can be used for the next level.
  • Less volatile compostable organic material can be added, or another level of the ash, aloe, and manure. Which ever is fine.
  • More flat stones randomly placed.
  • And now the stones on the outside perimeter can start to be secured tightly, leaning a bit inward as the garden inside it gets higher.
  • The layers of the rock wall can reach into the variant levels of the garden being interspersed with the organic material. Some of the organic material can show mildly for effect. Level with the outer rock wall.

At the end of the building process; the outer rock wall should stand a little over four feet high.

If the garden is going to stay in line with the established form it can be divided mentally into four sections. You should feel free to step outside the conventional at this point if you like. In a lot of cases stepping out of this convention is more practical.

The four sections are leafy crops, root crops, vine crops, bulb crops. It should be noted that corn, artichokes and quite a few other crops fit outside these regional choices. However they would grow great in a keyhole garden.

Trial and error has proven that in dry areas the section of onion crop works a good insect repellent.

With the four-crop system rotation is key after each crop. Adding mulch is also a good recommendation.

This type of garden is ideal for those who want to continue to garden, (for leisure or necessity), and cannot bend over to do so. The garden is raised up a bit above waste level. That makes bending over unnecessary.

House hold run off water, (in some cases wastewater), can be run through the center of the garden basket. This is great infiltration for the garden. In essence the whole key garden is a new style approach to an above ground easy access vegetable rain garden.


Posted in Methods by Administrator on August 27, 2008.

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