Recently we had a local Sustainable Living Show. One of the most inspiring and easily achievable garden additions was the Keyhole Garden.
A keyhole garden has been used in East Africa to provide food for families all year round including during the three month dry period.
It is a garden circular in shape, with a hollow central column. This is traditionally made of a loose-weave basket into which foodscraps, manure and greywater are tipped.
The ‘Keyhole” is the access path to the central compost heap.
Around the outer slope, vegetables are planted and mulched to prevent water loss.
Due to the shortage of water, only greywater is used to water the garden by tipping it into the central compost column. Instead of watering on the surface and having a lot of water lost through evaporation, the water will drain through the soil, below the topsoil, thus watering from underneath.
As the water is percolating through the soil it is taking nutrients from the compost column with it and so as well as watering it is enriching the soil directly adjacent to the roots of plants. Insects and earthworms love this system and happily play their roles.
You can make your keyhole garden out of freely-available local materials.
For example, being near the beach, the photos show that driftwood has been used for the column and the edge. Also, wire mesh has been used rather than the traditional woven basket.
Plant around the circle according to the hemisphere in which you live. That is, in the Southern Hemisphere…..put sun-loving vegetable plants facing north and shade-loving ones facing south.
Let me know if you make your own DIY Keyhole vege garden.
Lovely solid rain is giving all the veges in their raised garden beds and containers a good soaking.
Even the runaway pumpkin vine is forming two small pumpkins so far. The tomatoes have started turning red and we have been enjoying a few each day of late. The compost mix is getting “thick, rich and creamy” with layers of goodies from the kitchen as well as efforts from the horses.
Out of the tangle of tomato vine a pepper plant is emerging and has a couple of small peppers forming. The zuchini plant has paused on production so I am hoping that some fertilizer and this good rain will encourage it to come back to work.
I planted a few more baby beet seeds last week as these were very successful and much enjoyed. Now that I have learnt that the young leaves are tasty too, I will be on to them early.
Last week we enjoyed a meal out with friends at their house. Amongst the home grown vege were some yummy carrots. I have been inspired to plant a few ASAP.
A second DIY compost bin has happily been installed in the vege garden. Just along from the raised garden beds…
it is already attracting easy use as I can trim dead leaves and other debris from my nearby patch and drop it straight in.
I am paying attention to the idea of having layers of “green” waste and “brown”/dry vege material. Also a sprinkling of lime is beneficial, as is a sprinkle of water, a little soil and the vege waste from the kitchen.
All in all a delicious concoction is forming. Last night at the horse paddock I gathered a few droppings and have soaked them overnight in a bucket. Tonight the tomato plants will be watered with the liquid and I will add the manure to the compost pile.