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ElizabethB
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African Key Hole Gardening

Hi All,

My SIL lives in the hill country west of San Antonio, TX. She ordered a kit to create a Key Hole Garden. I don't have plans to try it but it does sound interesting especially in drought prone regions.

Have any of you Guys and Gals tried this method? It would be interesting to know how you constructed your garden and what your results have been.

Just curious. :wink:
Elizabeth - or Your Majesty

Living and growing in Lafayette, La.

When weeding, the best way to make sure you are removing a weed and not a valuable plant is to pull on it. If it comes out of the ground easily, it is a valuable plant. ~Author Unknown

Asica
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Re: African Key Hole Gardening

I have two of them. I found that it requires less work. Things grown really great inside it. I use much less water. You can plant a ton of veggies in just one keyhole. I found the book Soil Rotten to be very good guide in constructing the keyhole. I build mine out of bricks, actually I had my dad do it for me. I like that I do not have to bent to get veggies out of it. I highly recommend keyhole gardening.

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rainbowgardener
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Re: African Key Hole Gardening

I never have, because I live in an area that ordinarily gets 50+" of rain a year. But we have been in extreme drought conditions for almost a year now, so maybe I should think about it.

My study trip to the US-Mexico borderlands we toured some community gardens and saw their keyhole gardens built from handmade adobe bricks. I think anyone gardening in dry country should consider it.
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imafan26
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Re: African Key Hole Gardening

The keyhole garden is very water efficient and has its own built in compost pile. The instructions said that the circle should not extend out more than 6 feet because the central watering basket becomes less efficient as the circle expands. Geometrically the circle makes the best use of the space. It allows for good access to the growing space. A raised garden is easier to work and since it is a permaculture design, compost is added to the basket and on top and it need never be tilled. Some plants were more suitable than others for the design. It can be built out of a variety of materials and was intended to be built out of whatever materials were readily available. The African design has a central wicker type basket but needs to be rebuilt every couple of years since it does break down over time. A cover keeps out critters and the hoop structure which is optional can provide shade or extend the season. When other more durable materials are used for the construction, it can last longer.

In Africa, water is a scarce resource so the central compost basket was designed to make use of gray water.



It is essentially sheet mulching or raised bed with a built in compost pile.

Some keyhole designs don't have a central compost basket but use the circular design to create gardens with easy access and efficient paths that maximize garden area for planting.

The keyhole allows access to the central compost/watering basket and access to the middle of the bed.

The plants are planted close together so there has to be good pest control and the plants have to be selected and rotated so the nutrients will not play out too soon. Space and nutrient hogs are not recommended and green leafy vegetables and root crops will do best. Plants that require a lot of water do not do as well unless you provide enough water and mulch heavily. Sprawling plants will take over so you will get more efficient use of the space if you use short cycle plants that don't take a lot of space. If you are doing the garden organically, you have to balance what you plant to support the soil web and supplement with nutrients. If you just have a compost pile and do not plan for rotations of cover crops, eventually the garden will become less productive over time and will have to be rebuilt.

https://www.minimalisti.com/garden-lands ... ideas.html
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

imafan26
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Re: African Key Hole Gardening

Some people use the keyhole design but don't really raise the bed much. If the keyhole garden is built as a raised bed it can be raised to a level where you can garden at a comfortable height to minimize bending anything from 18 inches at the outer edge to 30 inches near the central basket.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

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ElizabethB
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Re: African Key Hole Gardening

Thanks all

I was really wondering if any of you had actually tried key hole gardening.

SIL just installed her garden and said she will plant in May. She put a heavy layer of cardboard, then newspaper, then vegetable prunings from her local vegetable market. She topped it off with bagged soil. I think she will have to keep adding soil because her under layers will shrink as they decompose. She did include a center basket.

IDK. I know she did a lot of research but I do not get the ratio of browns to greens (2/1).
Elizabeth - or Your Majesty

Living and growing in Lafayette, La.

When weeding, the best way to make sure you are removing a weed and not a valuable plant is to pull on it. If it comes out of the ground easily, it is a valuable plant. ~Author Unknown

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applestar
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Re: African Key Hole Gardening

I have circular beds inspired by the African keyhole design - with compost pile/bin in the middle, and also situating compost piles in beds during the winter before planting in them. But they are lower, sheet mulched raised mound beds. I haven't tried the knee-high design.

In a separate experiment, I tried making mid-thigh high raised beds using pallets -- but by necessity and location, those are long rectangles. But with these, I combined the design with hugelkulture concept.

Maybe it's time to combine all three.... 8)
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