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.
Pumpkins are appearing on the vine of an escapee from the confines of the raised garden bed.
Yes if you look at the earlier posts on this site you will see a small pumpkin vine developing” outside the square” (or in this case rectangle) of the new raised garden bed in my organic vege garden. Resisting the temptation to keep things really neat and under control…the vine was left to develop and spread across the lawn. Then came the flowers…and now..
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.
Earlier this week I collected this garden bounty….grown in my own backyard!
Most of it from my raised garden bed.
Here is a pic of the bounty…and yes…hasn’t the grass dried off.
Baby beets, dwarf beans, spinach, coriander, parsley, my first courgette, chives and vietnamese mint. It all went together to make a yummy soup.
More baby beets are ready for harvest, and today I cropped another, larger zhuccini. Just as I was returning from taking out the compost this morning..a rather urgent and close-sounding tweet was heard. On the back deck was sitting a beautiful tourquoise budgie!!!
It didn’t take long before he or she was eating grass seed from a stem. I tried to catch it but to no avail…off it flew into the neighbour’s garden. I do hope it returns,….
I have had a few days incapacitated, but one of the joys of getting better again is racing out to the vege patch and reconnecting with my babies. And my how they’ve grown. Even a beginner vegetable grower will quickly get attached to the joys of tending their charges. Even when you are not watching…guess what??…those veges just carry on doing their thing.
here are some pics of the developments….
The baby beets are happy and the lettuces are all snuggled up together. Flowers on the tomato plants are encouraging. Zuchini babies are forming at the base of the plant. The silver beet on the far right are going to seed.
So these aren’t veges…but it’s hard to resist sharing the roses. I guess you could use the petals for rose jelly…or just enjoy them in the moment.
Here is an updated view of the new raised vegetable bed.
See how things have grown!
Front left is the patch of baby beets. Lettuces are front middle, then dwarf beans…and continuing around anti-clockwise…tomatoes are starting to need support hence the strings, raspberry canes line the back. There is one cucumber plant and one courgette.
Can you see the renegade pumpkin growing by the lawn at the front of the bed??
I couldn’t bring myself to squash up those tomato plants any more so popped a few in in front of the Dublin Bay rose….along with a few spinach plants and some coriander.
The other day I called in on a friend and she loaded up the back of my car with boxes of recycled/untreated timber shavings…and then I sprinkled some sheep manure pellets for good measure. I don’t think these veges can complain about their treatment.