How to Build Your Keyhole Garden - Rice University
How to Build Your Keyhole Garden Steps in Construction • A circle 2 metres across is cleared. • Four corner posts are secured into the ground. • The outline of the garden is marked with stones. • The outline dips inwards at the center.What is a keyhole garden?Each keyhole garden has a composting basket built into its center. This gives thegarden a keyhole shape when viewed from above.The garden uses a number of layers to retain moisture and nourish the soil, • The basket is encircled with rope and linedmaking it more productive than a conventional garden. The composting basket with thatching grass to allow water that isreplenishes the soils nutrients as well. The garden is made from materials that poured into the basket to flow into the gardenare all available at low cost. soil. Benefits of the keyhole gardenSoil enrichment Labor saving technology • The first layer of the garden is:• The layers of organic materials • The soil re-nourishment and moisture • iron scraps such as empty food anddecompose over time, adding retention reduce the amount of time required beverage cansnutrients to the soil. to maintain the garden. • aloe leaves• The central composting basket • The garden shape makes it more • dry animal bonescontinuously replenishes the soil. accessible to sick or elderly gardeners. • broken clay pots, which can beMoisture retention Low-cost design substituted with fist-size stones• The layers soak up moisture, so • All construction materials should be readily • These materials provide minerals to the soilthe garden requires less water to available (at no cost) to gardeners. as well as drainage in heavy rains.remain moist. • Gardeners might need to purchase seeds for planting, however. • The first layer is covered with soil that gives nutrients, thatching grass that retains moisture,Year-round vegetable production and wood ash that provides potassium.• The stones of the keyhole garden wall absorb heat from the sun, protecting • Every layer should slope downwards from thecrops from the cold winter temperatures in Lesotho. basket so water can flow properly into the soil. • Soil is added on top of the wood ash. Continued
• Soil is added on top of the wood ash. Planting your keyhole garden • A thick layer of mixed soil and dry manure is added on top. Using wet manure will kill young Space, soil nutrients, and pest management are key considerations in planning seedlings your garden. Companion planting is planting different kinds of crops together in • Add stones to the garden walls as the layers the same garden in order to best satisfy those needs. Different methods include grow taller. planting leafy crops next to root vegetables or planting pest-resistant vegetables (like onion or garlic) next to regular crops. To best ensure that your garden will stay fertile and resist pests, plant a minimum of four vegetable types. • Seeds are planted according to the season. X O • During the winter, protect plants from the O X cold with thatching grass or old carpet. During X O O X O the day, plants should be uncovered so they X O X OX O receive sunlight. X O X OO X X X Congratulations! Your keyhole garden will now O grow delicious, healthy vegetables all year OO O XX X X round. O X XX X O One idea for companion planting. X: leafy plants Maintenance of the keyhole garden O: root plantsWatering Basket• The garden should be watered • Uncooked vegetable scraps, dry Preferred Crops For Keyhole Gardensregularly so that the garden soil is manure, eggshells, and compost are Root Crops Leafy Cropsmoist. added to the basket. These replenish Carrot Spinach• Clean water is used on the topsoil. the soil.• Water from washing hands, laundry, • The basket will decompose within 1 Onion Swiss chardor dishes is poured into the basket. or 2 years and should be replaced. Beetroot LettuceThe thatch and the composting in the • The garden wall near the basket canbasket will clean the water. be pulled away, allowing gardeners to Radish Rape remove the old basket and replace it. Turnips Mustard spinachSoil Garden construction Garlic Herbs• Dry manure and topsoil should be • Over time, the garden may lose its Crops NOT Recommended For Keyhole Gardensreplinished in the garden so that it nutrients, and vegetables stop growingdoes not become sapped of its fertility. well. You then need to rebuild the Tomatoes Cabbage garden. This is usually done every 4–5 Peppers Eggplant years. Chilies Maize Peas Beans Potatoes Squash
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