Living in an arid climate or an area plagued by drought can make traditional gardening nearly impossible. But with a sustainable gardening technique called keyhole gardening, used in areas as dry as sub-sahara Africa, growing food can not only be succesfull, but one can create a virtual oasis and eat year-round.
Building a keyhole garden
Frequently referred to as the ultimate raised bed planter, a keyhole garden is a waist-high planter in the shape of a circle, 6 feet in diameter, with a pie-shaped wedge cut away. In the center of the keyhole garden is a hole for a composting basket which continually nourishes the soil and plants. Because of its unique shape and height, the garden requires little to no water throughout the growing season.
Why is it called a keyhole garden? Because if viewed from above, the garden looks just like… you guessed it, a keyhole. The keyhole is meant to provide easy access to the composting basket in the center, and of course, to tend your garden. The design is also convenient for those with mobility problems and those who may have difficulty spending long hours bent over in a traditional garden.
The outer container of the keyhole garden can be made out of any variety of materials that are handy, sturdy and recyclable: native rock, clay, old cement blocks, brick, cedar, bottles, etc. Just make sure that your materials have not been exposed to chemicals which may harm your plants, especially if you’re growing vegetables and fruit.
Experts suggest that the growing medium in a keyhole garden should be mostly compost. The “brown” elements should be materials like cardboard, newspapers, straw, twigs, old leaves and dead plants. The “green” elements should be materials like manure, tea bags, coffee grounds, and food scraps. Because of the size of the keyhole garden, if the browns and greens are added in the correct ratio, the keyhole garden should be ready to plant in only 30 days.
Nearly anything that can be grown in a traditional garden can also be grown in a keyhole garden: onions, garlic, tomatoes, kale, peppers , spinach, carrots, berries, you name it. You’re only limited by the size of the container.