Gardening is when you grow your own plants. You can have any plant of your choice: flowering plants, fruits, vegetables, herbs, etc. You can grow them for ornamental purposes, for consumption, or for cosmetic purposes.
Stopping by at other people's gardens is a beautiful way to gander into their love and happiness. Some gardeners are dedicated to one type of plant usually a flowering plant, while others have whole lot in mind, such as growing herbs and vegetables.
A whole new way of gardening has emerged and it’s called keyhole gardening.
What is a Keyhole Garden?
Raised beds are a thing of the past. In order to make the most of drainage, soil and access to the garden, the new idea is to upraise it. Keyhole gardens qualify to all of these with another advantage: a center area that is for compost that works to fertilize the plants.
A salad keyhole garden takes it a step further, by planting specific vegetables and herbs together–to be picked at the same time–to create a delicious dish.
What's most interesting about keyhole gardens is their bountiful history. They began as an invention of charitable organizations to help people in poor countries create a self-sustainable, controllable food source. Considering that the construction of keyhole gardens often utilizes recycled materials – think cast-off tin and upcycled bricks – schools in some of those countries utilize the gardens as a way to both grow nutritious ingredients for school lunches and as a learning tool, for children to take the idea home to their parents. The center compost bin serves a dual purpose: it provides nutrients to the plants and offers a spot for recycling kitchen waste.
What makes people attracted to keyhole gardening is that it is virtually easy to construct. Materials that can bear up the test of weather – rock, stone, bricks, metal – will work for the walls. Although you can have the height of your choice, a keyhole garden usually maxes out at about 6 feet wide, but smaller diameters will work as well. The entrance cut makes the garden look like a keyhole, and points to the composting center. That's the place where the sun shines the least (usually north), to give it to the plants to absorb the sunshine.
Why Should I Use a Keyhole Garden?
Some gardeners only have so much of an area that considering having a compost would be a challenge. Others want to have flowers and vegetables but aren’t sure how they’re going to fit it in their yards. A keyhole garden will address these concerns for it merges leftovers of already used food scraps, at the same time growing new, fresh crops or lovely flowers.
Compared to commercial fertilizer which we regularly forget, plants flourish more on composts. Other than being easy to make in your keyhole garden, it gives plants more nutrients as it saves more water which is particularly a must in areas that are prone to drought.
Keyhole gardens are elevated from the ground thus working in with them is so much easier. Unlike raised beds, you no longer have to end over. Contrary to the thought that keyhole gardens are typical elevated gardens that are just bricked, these gardens are flexible to design aesthetics as well. You can add a fancy fence, some vines, etc. You just have to be creative and imaginative.
How Is a Keyhole Garden Constructed?
Despite all of its function, the setup of a keyhole garden is fairly simple. Using a garden hose, mark out a circle about six feet wide. Then, mark a notch out of the circle roughly a foot wide that narrows slightly toward the center (think of a slice of pizza with a flattened end instead of a point). At the center of the circle, create another smaller circle (about a foot wide): this will be your compost bin.
Next, you'll need to create the sides of your keyhole garden and give some structure to the center compost bin. We'll use bricks as an example: Simply alternate the bricks in a dry stack (meaning no mortar necessary), circling around in layers until you reach about waist height.
At the center of the keyhole garden, add the compost basket. Typically this circle is surrounded by a material such as chicken wire and is about one to one-and-a-half feet wide. The goal is to hold the compostable materials in place while allowing for drainage out to the surrounding garden. For added stability, countersink the chicken wire into the ground. The top of the compost basket often extends above the top of the soil in the bed, and some bins use a cap to deflect water into the garden itself. The first few inches of the compost basket's bottom are filled with drainage materials such as rocks, the rest holds kitchen and yard waste that decomposes and turns into compost.
Although the compost bin is filled with kitchen waste, the planting space of the keyhole garden should be filled with easily biodegradable materials, such as newspaper, shredded old phone books, and cardboard, for example, as well as garden soil. The top of the soil in the planting area should gently slope away from the compost basket to encourage drainage and the movement of compost into the keyhole garden's growing area.
Plants and Planting for a Salad Keyhole Garden
In choosing plants for your salad keyhole garden, you can have a theme of your own or base it on the season of the vegetables. It can be a combination of leaf vegetables or the hard crunchy ones. Some suggested vegetables are cherry tomatoes, carrots, onions, arugula, spinach and lettuce.
Compared to traditional raised bed gardens, keyhole gardens definitely have an edge. It can encourage you to make your own compost and therefore produce more nutritious crops and more attractive flowers.
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