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.