Drought has always been a bane on agriculture, and, if current patterns are anything to go by, you would be considered crazy if you began planning ahead in your own home garden. Enter the Key Hole Planter.
While raised bed planters are nothing new, this variety, with a built in composting basket not only allows precious moisture to be used wisely, but provides a constant source of organic fertiliser for your plants as they grow.
Key Hole gardens are often built in the shape of a circle measuring about 6 feet in diameter that stands waist-high and is notched like a pie with a slice cut away. A hole in the center holds a composting basket that moistens and nourishes the soil. The garden, which from above looks like a keyhole, can be built with recycled materials and requires less water than a conventional garden, especially if drip irrigation and mulching practises are employed.
The sustainable gardening method was developed by a humanitarian aid organisation in southern Africa, where resources are scarce and the climate unforgiving. There, three keyhole gardens can feed a family of 10 all year long, reports the BBC.
Follow these guidelines to get started:
1. Measure a 6-foot diameter circle to define the inside wall of your garden.
2. Notch the circle (like cutting a wedge of pie) so you can access the basket at the center.
3. Construct the exterior wall about 3 feet high using rocks, metal, timbers or any material that can support the weight of wet soil.
4. Use wire mesh to create a tube about 1 foot in diameter and about 4 feet high. Stand the tube in the center of the circle.
5. Line the outer walls with cardboard and fill the garden area (but not the wire mesh tube in the center), with layers of compostable materials, wetting it down as you go. Fill the last few inches with compost or potting soil. The soil should slope from a high point at the top of the center basket downward to the edges of the garden.
6. Fill the center basket with alternating layers of compostable material, along with layers of kitchen scraps and herbaceous weeds that provide the plants with moisture and nutrients.
7. Water the center basket and the garden only when the plants will not survive without it. This forces the plantsí roots down toward the center basket.
8. Feed the garden by adding more kitchen scraps, lawn clippings, etc., to the center basket.
9. Consider arching a framework of thin wires over the garden. During the hottest months, the wires can support a shade cloth, and in winter, plastic sheeting creates an instant greenhouse.
10. Enjoy the fruits (and vegetables!) of your labour
Article courtesy of Texas Co-Op Power, February 2012 Issue