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The Ins and Outs of a Keyhole Garden

What is a keyhole garden?

keyhole garden

Answer: A keyhole garden is a type of raised bed that uses recycled materials to sustain a garden in otherwise unfavorable conditions. This concept is used throughout impoverished countries and in areas in which good soil is scarce, drought is frequent and money is often tight, to grow vegetables to help feed the hungry.

The idea is to build a circular raised bed, often out of recycled resources. There's a layer of rocks, stones, twigs, branches or broken material such as pots, containers or tile at the bottom, to allow for drainage. A “compost basket”—usually made of chicken wire—is located at the center, extending from the top of the bed to the ground level. This is used to collect kitchen/garden waste. Within the circular raised bed is a “slice” cut out for easy access to the compost pile—creating an overall shape that is similar to a keyhole.

The raised bed is filled with soil, which slopes gently away from the central compost basket. The compost basket gets watered, and this slope directs the moisture out from the basket and through the bed. The water carries nutrients from the decomposing compost material, thereby feeding the soil and irrigating it at the same time.

Live in an area with poor soil and bad weather? Why not try to build your own compost pile surrounded by growing plants—a great way to be a little more self-sufficient.

Read more about making a keyhole garden

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