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Keyhole gardens, think it would work?

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Keyhole gardens, think it would work?

Post  cheyannarach on Wed 7 Nov 2012 - 20:36

http://www.valhalla-project.com/2012/01/from-africa-to-valhalla-keyhole-garden.html

Stumbled on this and thought it was a really neat concept, never would have thought about it myself but it seems to me it woud work perfectly with SFG as well! Thought I would share and see what all of you think.

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Re: Keyhole gardens, think it would work?

Post  bnoles on Thu 8 Nov 2012 - 2:59

Interesting concept for sure. I like the added height so yo you don't have to bend over so much or get on your knees, but it looks like it would take a lot of soil to fill that rascal up.

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Re: Keyhole gardens, think it would work?

Post  cheyannarach on Thu 8 Nov 2012 - 7:38

Yes it would!!

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Re: Keyhole gardens, think it would work?

Post  CapeCoddess on Thu 8 Nov 2012 - 7:50

This concept is nice and neat. I'm wondering if the soil nearest the compost circle is richer than the outer soil? Being a hands on kinda gal, I think I need to 'know' how much compost was going where.

Back in another life, I used to bury my kitchen scraps and such directly into the veggie garden. It worked just fine.

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Can do with SFG, too.

Post  quiltbea on Thu 8 Nov 2012 - 8:27

I like this idea...... but in my 4 x 4 SFG beds. With a little tweaking, it should work just fine.
As I get older I wish my beds were only 3 x 3 and this would be an alternative.
I could stake a circle of woven wire cylinder in the center of a bed, fill it with all that good stuff, using it as a smaller compost pile, and see what results.
I think I'll set one bed aside to try this coming spring. I wouldn't have to reach in so far to garden besides having my garden fed and watered without effort.
It'll be an experiment I think I'll enjoy. Anyone else game to try?

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Re: Keyhole gardens, think it would work?

Post  FinallyFrugal on Thu 8 Nov 2012 - 8:52

We are currently collecting materials so that we can build one . The keyhole concept doesn't require but a few inches of compost at the top, Sloped down from the top of the cylinder to the edges of the walls. Under that is all kinds of compost able materials including lots of saturated cardboard, phonebooks, etc. All of this breaks down really fast (super hot composting). You pack the top of the bed with plants (Deb Tolman www.debtolman.com planted 70 tomatoes in one bed) which seals in the moisture for the composting process. There is lots of information out there about building and maintaining the structure.

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Re: Keyhole gardens, think it would work?

Post  walshevak on Thu 8 Nov 2012 - 8:58

Did anyone take note of one of the comments in the article.

Very nice! A similar method is to drill many holes in a 5 gallon bucket, bury the holey-bucket in a garden bed and put your compost in the bucket. Worms come to eat the veggie matter while nutrients flow out the holes into the dirt. (a lid keeps the dogs out.)

Sounds like a larger version of Josh's worm tubes.

Kay

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Re: Keyhole gardens, think it would work?

Post  gwennifer on Thu 8 Nov 2012 - 9:07

As someone who started a compost pile but never got around to doing anything with it, this appeals to me! I've been fascinated with my compost pile - it just sits there, only being added to and never being turned. And yet it never gets full...

I wonder how much the surrounding soil would really benefit. Seems to me the nutrients would be washed straight down. But I suppose worm activity would move stuff around a bit? (Oh, just saw walshevak's post!). Anyway, it certainly is interesting.

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Re: Keyhole gardens, think it would work?

Post  gregrenee88 on Thu 8 Nov 2012 - 9:14

@quiltbea wrote:I like this idea...... but in my 4 x 4 SFG beds. With a little tweaking, it should work just fine.
As I get older I wish my beds were only 3 x 3 and this would be an alternative.
I could stake a circle of woven wire cylinder in the center of a bed, fill it with all that good stuff, using it as a smaller compost pile, and see what results.
I think I'll set one bed aside to try this coming spring. I wouldn't have to reach in so far to garden besides having my garden fed and watered without effort.
It'll be an experiment I think I'll enjoy. Anyone else game to try?


It does sound very interesting! Currently our compost piles are on the north side of our shed so keeping it hot can be an issue once the sun starts to head south near the end of the growing season. However, with this method I think the compost would break down even faster since our beds get at least 9hrs of sunshine. Putting smaller amounts of compost material wouldn't be a problem and turning them wouldn't be such an issue. We are really going to look into this for the spring!
Renee

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Re: Keyhole gardens, think it would work?

Post  Turan on Thu 8 Nov 2012 - 9:47

This is really neat. I have not found yet enough information to know how the system works. It seems like a 100% compost round bed with a compost pile in the center. I am not sure though that I am missing something?

I wonder why they build it up for having been developed in hot arid climates instead of dug down? The gardens remind me a some of Navajo hogans.......


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Re: Keyhole gardens, think it would work?

Post  Kelejan on Thu 8 Nov 2012 - 10:12

@walshevak wrote:Did anyone take note of one of the comments in the article.

Very nice! A similar method is to drill many holes in a 5 gallon bucket, bury the holey-bucket in a garden bed and put your compost in the bucket. Worms come to eat the veggie matter while nutrients flow out the holes into the dirt. (a lid keeps the dogs out.)

Sounds like a larger version of Josh's worm tubes.

Kay

I thought that as well, Kay.

This fall, in one of my SFGs, I have filled one inner row with compost, worms and worm food, to see if I can keep the worms alive 'til next spring.
In my 4x4x4 compost pile that contains mostly leaves with some grass, I have put in two very large worm tubes made of mesh, and filled the tubes with kitchen scraps and cardboard ect., to see what results I get next year.
I think all of these ideas are an attempt to concentrate the goodness in a small area so that it is not wasted.

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Re: Keyhole gardens, think it would work?

Post  bnoles on Thu 8 Nov 2012 - 10:25

The more I research this keyhole garden concept, the more I'm thinking I will build one to give it a try. Just need to design a circular SF grid to keep things in order. Very Happy

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Re: Keyhole gardens, think it would work?

Post  Turan on Thu 8 Nov 2012 - 10:42

http://www.permanentculturenow.com/african-keyhole-garden/ a good article on this. Good comments too. Interesting to look at mandala gardens too.

I see 2 different concepts. One is with a compost pile in the center that after a few years is emptied and the other based on vermiculture. I am guessing the compost pile can handle more water going through it to the surrounding bed? The vermiculture one sounds very workable for urban use.

I love the emphasis on found/scrounged materials.

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Re: Keyhole gardens, think it would work?

Post  walshevak on Thu 8 Nov 2012 - 11:04

And if you are not a scrounger, here is a place that manufactures and sells keyhole garden frames.

Top 6 inches would of course be MM.

http://keyholefarm.com/buy-a-keyhole-garden-kit/

Kay

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Re: Keyhole gardens, think it would work?

Post  cheyannarach on Thu 8 Nov 2012 - 15:11

I think I am going to give one a whirl next year! It will be fun to build this winter! But I will stick to the top 6 inches of MM though Very Happy

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Re: Keyhole gardens, think it would work?

Post  landarch on Thu 8 Nov 2012 - 22:22

I don't think the compost would get enough air if buried in the ground.

If one is unable to turn the compost in the middle and it's composting directly in the garden, wouldn't the soil be too rich/ hot for some types of plants?

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Re: Keyhole gardens, think it would work?

Post  Unmutual on Thu 8 Nov 2012 - 23:12

I love it when two of my favorite things come together: permaculture and SFG. It's like chocolate and peanut butter for the soul.

I was going to make a mandala garden, but the grid gave me a headache(the grid is a waste of valuable space in a none square bed), so I just used the design for a PDC I'm taking. (I need more land...anyone have ~30 acres in the gulf coast area, preferably out of hurricane reach and 50ft+ above sea level so I don't have to worry about glacial ice melt any time soon? Willing to take low monthly payments a bonus! Within 3 hours of New Orleans a plus!)

The OP keyhole bed works on the same principle as Josh's worm tube. Worms move in, eat the good stuff, then go back to the soil and leave their deposits. The liquid wicks in to the soil(along with nutrients) instead of losing it to evaporation. It's like vertical sheet mulching, so I don't think it's supposed to be a hot pile.

Before I ramble on about this, I think I'll stop...I could go on for hours talking about this stuff.

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Re: Keyhole gardens, think it would work?

Post  FinallyFrugal on Fri 9 Nov 2012 - 3:12

The keyhole method using the scavenged materials and as talked about/taught by Deb Tolman - see her interview on Central Texas Gardener (link below).

Is a hot bed, it is not intended, at least initially, to house worms, though I can see where if the soil becomes rich enough and the bed cools down that they might move in of their own accord.

Central Texas Gardener

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Re: Keyhole gardens, think it would work?

Post  bnoles on Fri 9 Nov 2012 - 3:54

What about odor and the drawing of unwanted insects/animals from kitchen wastes being left open? Any ideas?

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Re: Keyhole gardens, think it would work?

Post  Kelejan on Fri 9 Nov 2012 - 5:37

@bnoles wrote:What about odor and the drawing of unwanted insects/animals from kitchen wastes being left open? Any ideas?
I think one would cover the composting stuff with dry leaves, grass or newpaper, just like one does in a worm bin.

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Re: Keyhole gardens, think it would work?

Post  landarch on Fri 9 Nov 2012 - 6:40

I get no wicking action with my SFG Mels Mix...when I water each sqaure, the water moves down vertically pretty quickly and the other squares remain fairly dry...pure comost may behave differently.

The OP really shows how creative solutions around the world can be using materials at hand. It reminds me of a couple professors of mine to live in the Colorado desert near Canon City...they dug clay from a local stream bed and built an adobe compound, solar panels pump water from a cistern (they have water delivered as it is illegal in CO to collect and keep rainwater unless you own the water rights), composting toilet, and grow varieties of beans that have been used by the natives for centuries. They do have a gray water system that drains from their kitchen sink and bathtub directly to an irrigation system for their garden...especially since they use a biodegradble soap...and they have an outdoor solar shower...large lodgepole pine poles (teepee style) support a solar shower bag, large red sandstone slabs to stand on, all screened by the surrunding mahogany and pinyon pines...with views to the Sange de Cristo mountains. He is a stone sculptor, and his wife is a potter (she has several kilns on site and her clients visit her adobe studio and pay on the honor system by sticking money in a coffee can).

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Re: Keyhole gardens, think it would work?

Post  Unmutual on Fri 9 Nov 2012 - 9:31

@bnoles wrote:What about odor and the drawing of unwanted insects/animals from kitchen wastes being left open? Any ideas?

Old carpet is another good way to block odors and keep in the moisture.

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building the keyhole

Post  frogdog on Thu 22 Nov 2012 - 20:03

My problem with the keyhole garden idea is that I cannot find cheap materials with which to build the structure. There are no free rocks in Florida, at least not now that craigslist is a marketplace.

So, I am thinking of using dryer drums. The keyhole garden would give approximately 28 square feet of space, well minus the wedge. A dryer drum is approximately 3-4 square feet of space and it's free. I've used dryer drums to grow trees, bushes and roses, so I am thinking 5 or 6 would be enough to grow a good amount of veggies. Right? or Wrong? I can still get them for free. Oh, and I would plant in the ground directly, but we have a crazy new puppy, so that isn't going to work. Started to do helgaculture (I think that's what it's called...where you pile up old wood to make a mound), but he was all over that, so it's my rose bed now...nice and thorny.

I think the dryer drums with the worm tubes in the middle would work. Can you give me some thoughts?

Finally, I have to comment on the person from Colorado...I am floored that it is illegal to collect rainwater there. Why?


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Re: Keyhole gardens, think it would work?

Post  cheyannarach on Sat 24 Nov 2012 - 7:45

Frogdog, here is a link to a discussion about rainwater!

http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t14133-collecting-rainwater-illegal#144160

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Re: Keyhole gardens, think it would work?

Post  Nonna.PapaVino on Sat 24 Nov 2012 - 9:12

Frogdog, Nice to hear from a like-minded recycler! I, too, use washer & dryer drums for planting containers, mainly for tomatoes because they can be moved into the greenhouse when weather gets colder (think: Thanksgiving tomatoes). But you've sparked a new idea: notice how the center of the keyhole bed is a pierced container for raw compost? What if a pierced washer drum could have large holes punched in the bottom of the drum and inserted half its height into the center of the k-garden, would it then work as a composting center for the keyhole? Nonna

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