This spring I really enjoyed exploring pinterest and would spend hours browsing the gardening section looking for inspiration, tips on companion planting, trellising and pining pictures of my soon to be one day-dream garden.

 One idea that caught my eye was Keyhole Gardens. I decided to do a little more research on them. The following is an excerpt taken from Texas Co-op Power Magazine.

keyhole garden


Lessons from Africa

Creative landscape architect Deb Tolman, leaning on her 30 years of experience in landscape design, doctoral studies in environmental science and research on African survival strategies, has teamed with local ranch owners Jim and Mary Lou Starnater to unlock the secrets of sustainable gardening.

A keyhole garden is the ultimate raised-bed planter. It is often built-in the shape of a circle measuring about 6 feet in diameter that stands waist-high and is notched like a pie with a slice cut away. A hole in the center holds a composting basket that moistens and nourishes the soil. The garden, which from above looks like a keyhole, can be built with recycled materials and requires less water than a conventional garden.

“It works well in places far drier than we are here on the edge of the Hill Country,” says Tolman, who discovered the technique five years ago. The sustainable gardening method was developed by a humanitarian aid organization in southern Africa, where resources are scarce and the climate unforgiving. There, three keyhole gardens can feed a family of 10 all year-long, reports the BBC.

This idea of keyhole gardening interested me in several ways. Having poor soil it created a raised bed for me to work in, combined the lasagna layering effect which I’ve been wanting to try to has a built-in composter. Although we may not contend with droughts, the idea of requiring less water than a conventional garden also appealed to me. So the adventure of creating my own keyhole garden started. I began by building the first keyhole garden with concrete block. It’s spaced a little larger than I initially planned about 8 ft across but I was trying to use up all my block too. Second, I lined everything with cardboard, this allows any weeds and grass to die underneath. Third, I added layers of grass, hay, newspaper another layer of grass, hay and newspaper and then put down good black dirt for the top layer to plant in. Overall I’m happy with the space. I used this keyhole to plant my herbs in. I’m in the building process of a second keyhole garden with rocks. Little harder to lay out!

KEYHOLECopy (2) of garden 2013 024

More pictures to follow as to how they are doing.