I took an interest in gardening several years ago. I have a garden area outside in my yard that is about 20′ by 60′. When I first put my hand to gardening, I tried to do all organic. I didn’t know much about gardening, plants, soil, or anything pertaining to growing food. But, I gave it a shot.
My first endeavor entailed growing vegetables in rows on the ground. I had several greens, cabbage, broccoli, etc. It failed. I ended up with an infestation of flea beetles, and they destroyed my little leafy greens. Toward the end, I had one leek just hanging on.
Well after this disappointing setback, I let the weeds have the garden for another year or two. I read an article in a local magazine about keyhole gardening, and it piqued my interest. I toyed with the idea for several months, before I got around to setting down a plan.
I entered this second gardening adventure with a little more knowledge, and no less determination. One main thing I entered with was the idea to have FUN and ENJOY what I was doing, and that if it failed to just learn that much more.
Ok, so now here I go, I’m gonna make a keyhole garden…
I didn’t want to spend too much money, I wanted to reuse material that was trash or just lying around. I started to really like the idea of doing compost and renewing what was otherwise considered waste.
The low water use, low impact,raised design appealed to me. I did not enjoy copious amounts of bending and stooping to reach the ground. Also, it gets friggin hot here in TEXAS, and drought is something we have to deal with.
I had an old round trough that I had gotten out of the pasture. The bottom was rusted out, and it leaked water like a sieve. This thing is about 8′ in diameter, and galvanized. I didn’t want to cut it, so I modified my keyhole design to a two keyhole design.
I made sure to poke alot of holes through the rusted out bottom for good drainage.
Over the next few months we loaded this thing up with all kinds of brown and green materials. I discovered that there is so much cardboard at stores that gets tossed out. Some of these places were happy to let me have as much as I could take. We raked up leaves, and put in all of our paper and food waste. We picked up sticks, cow poop, chicken poop, and any other organic material we could to fill it.
Once filled, I tilled up dirt from in the garden area, and shoveled it in. I has anywhere from 6 to 12 inches of dirt on the top layer.
Well, with all of that tilling, I decided to make a little gravel sidewalk to and around the keyhole to help with muddy-ness. I even found gravel for free (with permission). All it took was a ton of shoveling.
We finally got it ready to plant! I decided to tryout different plants in different configurations to see what would work.
Pinto beans down the middle on a little piece of fencing, broccoli, squash, tomatoes, herbs, flowers, peppers. We bought some plants, planted some seeds, and even took seeds from veggies we bought to experiment.
As the plants grew it was awesome to see them get bigger, stay green, and begin to produce. I realized that those little plants get bigger, lots bigger. We did have to do some thinning. Most of our food waste, and small paper waste went into the keyholes to feed the garden.
In one of the pics above you will notice a bright yellow bunch of stuff. One morning this appeared and freaked us out. Upon further research I discovered that this is called slime mold, and it isn’t harmful. It popped up around a tomato plant, and as soon as it came it shriveled and went away. It was kind of pretty though.
So far the pinto beans, mild peppers, zucchini, and mint are doing the best.
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