What is a Keyhole Garden?
Raised bed gardening is my favorite way to garden. I love the ease of set up, harvesting is a snap and, if you set your beds up right, there is little weeding to be done. Making a keyhole garden uses all these concepts and more!
Raised beds are nothing new. The idea is to elevate the garden to maximize drainage, improve the soil, and enhance access. Keyhole gardens are a riff on that idea, with one addition: a center compost area that works as a self-fertilizing element for the plants. A salad keyhole garden takes it a step further, by planting specific vegetables and herbs together–to be picked at the same time–to create a delicious dish.
What’s most interesting about keyhole gardens is their bountiful history. They began as an invention of charitable organizations to help people in poor countries create a self-sustainable, controllable food source. Considering that the construction of keyhole gardens often utilizes recycled materials – think cast-off tin and upcycled bricks – schools in some of those countries utilize the gardens as a way to both grow nutritious ingredients for school lunches and as a learning tool, for children to take the idea home to their parents. The center compost bin serves a dual purpose: it provides nutrients to the plants and offers a spot for recycling kitchen waste.
One of the biggest attractions of a keyhole garden is its ease of construction. Nearly any material that will withstand the stressors of weather–rock, stone, bricks, metal–will work for the walls. Although there’s no right or wrong height, a keyhole garden typically maxes out at about 6 feet wide, but smaller diameters will work well too. The access notch makes the garden look like a keyhole, and leads to the composting center. That’s often placed on the least sunny side of the bed (usually north), to allow the plants to better capture sun.
Read the full article with instructions on how to construct your very own keyhole garden HERE
Get other companion planting ideas from one of my favorite new books – The Mix & Match Guide to Companion Planting, learn about other Permaculture Principles to use in your yard and review other Drought Buster Strategies.
Have you used the Keyhole Garden concept in your yard? Share your successes (and failures) with raised bed gardening in the comments below.