We at Lawneq have periodically informed you of different methods of growing plants and vegetables. For example, we have discussed hydroponic, aquaponics, container, hanging, night, and lunar gardening.
If you live in a hot dry region of the country or have only a small space available for a garden, then you may want to consider creating a keyhole garden. This method of gardening was developed to maximize crop yield. It is cheap to maintain and very adaptable, making it one of the most desired gardening methods in the world.
The concept was developed by humanitarian foundations to assist in improving lives of poor farmers. It is an easy-to-understand concept, so it is taught to school age children in third world countries. One single keyhole garden offers enough output to feed a large family all year round.
Physically, the garden consists of two circles –- the larger outer circle is where the crops are planted and the center circle features an active composting basket. Small passageways appear from the inner circle to the outer circle to permit the compost access to the crops. Kitchen scraps and water are added to the compost basket every day to assure a constant replenishment of the soil and helps maintain moisture and nourishment. The compost area assures the success of the garden.
Constructing The Keyhole Garden
There are a number of options in constructing the garden. One format is to construct a shade cover over the compost basket to protect it from intense heat so that the compost won’t over dry and from rain to prevent the nutrients of the compost from washing away.
Here is how to construct a keyhole garden.
1. Select and then clear a sunny, circular area that is about 6-feet in diameter. The compost will be centered within this circle.
2. Construct the compost basket with sticks positioned vertically and twine or chicken wire.
3. Place rocks on the ground at the bottom of the basket for drainage.
4. Place a layer of topsoil over the rocks.
5. Construct the protective shade to cover the compost basket.
6. Use rocks, bricks, or blocks to build perimeter walls for the raised garden bed.
7. Lay broken plant pots, tin cans, and twigs to serve as the lowest layer of the raised bed to allow for drainage.
8. Layer cardboard, straw, topsoil, ashes, compost and aged manure over the broken pots, tin cans and twigs.
9. Use the best soil for the top layer. The soil should be sloping slightly away from the composting basket. This assures that the nutrients of the compost will reach the outer borders of the garden.
10. Let the soil set for about one week.
11. Plant seeds or seedlings. It is suggested that you plant at least four different types of vegetable to maintain fertility and promote resistance to pests and disease. Onions and garlic are ideal for preventing pests. Plant leafy greens next to root vegetable, and place tomatoes closest to the compost basket. Ideal root plants include carrots, beets, and radishes. Ideal leafy vegetables include spinach, lettuce, and herbs.
12. Directly water seeds and young plants until roots are established.
13. Add kitchen scraps and discarded water to the compost basket after plants begin to mature.