Friday, April 6, 2012

Keyhole Garden

In the electric co-op magazine a few months ago, there was an article about keyhole gardens. They are an African design that are supposed to conserve water. Since we had all the material we needed to build one, we thought it would be fun to give it a whirl.

Dimensions are supposed to be a five foot circle that is three feet tall. Use any material you happen to have. Ours was a pallet of brick left over from building our home. You do need to take a wedge out of the circle. At the center, place a 1 foot wide and 4 foot tall cylinder of chicken wire.

When this is all built, line the garden with cardboard. Then layer more cardboard, newspapers, sticks, phone books, etc to about 1 foot below the top. Water it well as you layer these decomposable materials. On top spread six inches of compost and planting medium. Fill the chicken wire cylinder with garden and kitchen trimmings.

Now you're ready to plant. This is my
husband's project and he chose tomatoes. After all, you can't have too many home grown tomatoes. You are supposed to just water this garden through the wire cylinder.

Ours is now six weeks old and we have baby tomatoes on our plants. The pros we've discovered are that 1) having the planting bed six inches below the wall protected the seedlings from the wind, 2) rabbits and other animals don't mess with the plants here, and 3) no stoop labor. Watering through the "keyhole" isn't working that great. The water just runs down the trimmings and puddles on the ground.

But we will wait and see how these tomatoes perform compared to those in our traditional garden beds.


Brownsville Herb Lady said...

So how are your tomatoes looking in the keyhole garden since they've had a chance to grow?

Mary Beth said...

They did great at first - really loved being below brick level and protected from our spring winds - but they tomatoes really struggled the last 5 weeks UNTIL the rains began a few weeks ago. This is supposed to be a water saving device, but we didn't experience that. We will give it another season or two before we pass judgement. But right now that tomatoes look great - we've picked a few already. I"ll have to post a new picture!