Last week I attended the Garden Bloggers Conference in Atlanta. It was a whirlwind few days of meeting new people, learning great techniques, and connecting with all kinds of garden-related companies and services. It was also my lucky weekend because I connected with a GREAT giveaway ~ a keyhole garden from Vita Gardens! (See above.) Please pardon the staged promo photo (no that’s not my husband), but for now it’s the only way I could show you this awesome addition to my small space garden.
(UPDATE) Here’s a photo of mine before filling…
What is a Keyhole Garden?
A keyhole garden is a sustainable garden practice first used in Africa to grow produce in areas lacking in water and soil quality. As you can see from the photo, it’s a raised bed that I’ll layer lasagna-style: brown material (think cardboard boxes), then green material (grass clippings, etc.) then 6-8 inches of growing soil, water thoroughly, then add plants (or seeds). Throughout the season I can continue to add appropriate table scraps and other organic compostable material to “feed” my growing bed. The keyhole garden is said to use 80% less water while providing a nutrient rich environment for plants. It is also said to require no turning making it less labor intensive.
Why Would I Keyhole Grow?
This whole concept intrigues me. Most of the keyhole gardens I’ve read about are located in warm climates with difficult soil. I’m interested because while I do have difficult clay soil and my Zone 4b Minnesota climate reaches summer temps of over 100 °F, I also often have cold springs/falls with bone-chilling winters. I’m wondering, “How is this practice going to work in cold-climates with fluctuating temperatures?” Its helpful that Vita Gardens is a Canadian based company that is well-acquainted with cold, fluctuating temps. I’m fairly certain the structural components of the keyhole garden will hold up to the weather, but will the up and down temps allow the raw material to compost quickly enough in my climate?
Truthfully, that’s just the beginning of my keyhole gardening questions. I’m also wondering about the wind factor, how the compost will distribute itself in the bed, which types of herbs/veggies/pollinator friendly flowers will perform best in this environment, how much compost will actually be created, will it really involve less labor?….. My list of questions goes on and on. Does yours? For me, that’s the fun part! I mean, why try something new if you have all the answers?
I hope you’ll join me this growing season as I share more about keyhole growing. My keyhole garden should arrive sometime in the next few weeks. When it does, I’ll begin posting regularly about it. My first task is deciding where to put it. According to the Vita Gardens website the garden measures 72″ x 72″ x 24″. It should fit nicely next to the raised beds I put in last year. I had planned to add one more six foot bed anyway. Who knows….maybe this was meant to be. Afterall, every growing season is a new adventure!
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