|Photo credit: afrigadget.com|
So here is how we started:
First stakes were surrounded by chicken wire, that were then lined with cardboard including the ground. This was watered down well. Then a layer of coarse, dry brush was added and watered. That tube in the middle is for the "compost bucket" and where the arrangement is watered several times per week. I call it the "wormhole" because you know what's going to take up residence there soon, right?
Next, more layers of cardboard and garden waste, the coarser stuff toward the bottom, and watered between each layer.
Then some nice bags of leaves on top of the next layer of cardboard.
After watering, yet another layer and then newspapers. Getting bored yet? ;)
And finally, dirt, composted stable bedding from our neighbors, and bagged potting soil. It took a lot of that to get a 6-8 inch layer of planting surface.
I couldn't stand the sheer ugliness of this, so we bought some snow fence, cut it in half to the proper height, then covered the soil with straw. This is the second one, where we had the brilliant idea to use old shag carpet from the barn as another barrier around the stakes. We think this will hold moisture better than the cardboard alone. Remember the idea here is to conserve water while offering a bio-intensive growing area for healthy plants like you see in the first picture.
Five of these keyhole gardens are placed in what will become a permaculture suntrap facing south. You can already see the small peach trees that are the start of an orchard. In a few months, I'll show you updated photos when we get more of the foundation in place for some of the other elements in this suntrap.
If you want to give this method a go, be forewarned. These six-foot diameter beds take a lot of energy and materials to build. Each one took two of us a half day of constant effort. We'll see if it pays off for us. I love the idea of having a good place to empty my compost bucket, and even more, not having to bend so far to plant and harvest. If it really does conserve a lot of water, so much the better. Water is cheap where I live, but that won't last forever in this drought, and I'd rather be prepared for water rationing. This will help a great deal.
Here's a video about this technique should you care to learn more. It takes a slightly different approach. I wish I'd watched this first - very inspiring and intriguing! I loved the upbeat music.
Here's the website to http://keyhole-gardens.com/ for more ideas. I'm hoping my keyhole gardens look this lush in a few months.
Have any of you tried this type of gardening? What kind of vegetable gardening do you do? Please leave me a comment!