After the initial installation that is. . .
The one drawback to these new methods of gardening is sometimes the expense if you cannot find reusable materials and the fact that building and setting them up can be time and labor intensive. However, the good news is that once the garden (usually some form of a raised bed) is set up, there is no more back-breaking work of hoeing or tilling the soil each season as one expects to do with traditional gardens. Also because most of these new methods of gardening break all the cardinal rules of proper plant spacing, there are few, if any, weeds to pull.
I recently posted a story about the square foot garden that members of Loving Garland Green installed here in Garland last week. The square foot garden, a method developed by Mel Bartholomew in the 1980s, is another example of raised bed gardens that takes advantage of every square inch of soil.
This afternoon I just read an article in "Texas Gardener" about Keyhole Gardens by Suzanne Larry. Nancy Lovett, a fellow gardener here in Garland told me about Keyhole gardens just about a week ago so I was interested to learn more about them.
A keyhole garden is a raised bed that is self-feeding and mostly self moisturizing and operates as an all in one gardening, comosting and recycling system. If you can imagine a pie with a wedge-shaped piece cut out of it, you visualize a Keyhole garden. It measures about six feet in diameter and stands about waist high.
Here are the steps to building a Keyhole garden:
1. Measure a six foot diameter circle for the inside wall of your garden.
2. Cut a wedge out of the circle as cutting a pie so you can access the center.
3. Build the exterior wall about three feet high using rocks, metal, wood (anything that can support the dirt).
4. Use wire mesh to create a tube about four feet high and one foot in diameter.
5. Line the walls with cardboard and fill the garden area with compostable materials. Wet the materials as you add them.
6. Fill the last few inches with compost or garden soil. The soil should slope from a high point at the top of the center basket downward to the walls.
7. Fill the center basket with compostable materials, kitchen scraps, herbaceous weeds, etc. that can provide plants with nutrients.
8. Feed the garden by adding more kitchen scraps to the center basket. Water the center basket only when plants won't survive without it.
TWO GREAT RESOURCES TO LEARN MORE ABOUT KEYHOLE GARDENS
The March/April 2014 issue of Texas Gardner
"Keyhole: The Easy Way to Garden" by Suzanne Larry
This article is filled with photos. Many of the Keyhole Gardens featured in this article are made from corrugated metal painted bright colors. There are other examples of gardens build from stone.
Texas Co-op Power
"Keyhole Gardening: Unlocking the Secrets of Drought-Hardy Gardens" by G. Elaine Acker Feb. 2012
Yes, in addition to several square foot gardens, we will also feature at least one keyhole garden at the Garland Community Garden. And I know just the guy to ask to help us build it--our mayor! Here he is last week helping us put together a square foot garden.