Saturday, March 30, 2013

Non-sewing Project - Keyhole Garden

It's Saturday Sharing Day at Pigtales and Quilts - a linky party to share what you like! It doesn't have to be quilting related! Today, I'm taking the 'it doesn't have to be quilting related' route! Click here to check out what everyone else is up too!

Hello! I wanted to share with you my non-sewing project - a keyhole garden. Have you heard of it? You can read about it here and here.  My sister, Simone, told me about it. In summary, (I can be wordy, so hopefully I can summarize it), it's a circular raised garden bed, with a center compost basket. A notch, or pie-shape, is cut out of the circle for easy access to the basket. The compost basket is a place for you to drop in kitchen waste, grass clippings, rotting wood, water, etc. As the items compost and you add water down through the basket the composting nutrients will leach out into the garden soil. 
I'll explain more as I show you my photos.

It's nearly impossible to dig in our rocky ground. I always wanted a vegetable garden and I know the solution to having a garden on rocky ground is a raised bed. Making a raised bed would mean getting my husband involved and well he's a wonderful man but I knew he wouldn't go for it.

The picture above is a 6ft diameter circle which is the outline of the garden walls. In learning about how to build a keyhole garden I read you can use different materials such as cinder blocks, bricks, stones whatever material you might have on hand.

We still have plenty of building materials leftover from when we built our house and I thought, I can make this! Naturally, where we had the cinder blocks stored was on the opposite side of the property from where I wanted to build the garden. My husband was very helpful by loading them in a cart behind the 4-wheeler. He scattered them around the garden area for me as I constructed the walls.

Garden walls... done! The reason it's called a 'keyhole' garden is because looking at it from the top, it looks like a lock.. a hole to put a key.. a keyhole.

Yea! I did it! The compost basket will be in the center, behind where I'm standing. The notch allows me easy access to the basket. The circular shape allows easy access to the garden and the raised bed will make it easy on my back!!

The instructions say to line it with cardboard and generously wet it down. This is for a couple of reasons, the cardboard will act as a seal for the walls and it promotes the bugs needed to breakdown everything. (the basket is still missing)

I finally made the basket! It was a little bigger than I planned but it will work just the same! I'll drop the kitchen waste, grass clippings, rotting wood and water in the basket.

I started layering different materials. You are seeing old grass clippings here, but under the grass clippings are cardboard boxes from soda cases, cereal and snack cake boxes, and beer boxes. I was calling it the 'dumpster' garden because that's what it looked like and I didn't want you to see that photo.

On top of the grass clippings is a layer of newspapers. I wet down each layer.

A layer of compost I had 'cooking' in another part of our property.

On top of the compost is another layer of newspaper and then a layer of leaves.

Ok, here are the leaves after I wet them down.

Another layer of newspaper and some rotting wood and a little dirt from old plant pots. This is where I had to stop because we went on spring break vacation!! The weather has been cold and/or rainy and/or the wind has been blowing like crazy since we got back. I still have more old grass clippings and compost and leaves I can layer. The top 6 inches should be filled in with soil and should be mounded and taper down to the sides.
It's been almost 2 weeks since I've been able to add compost materials to the garden, I hope what's there is starting to compost and break down and settle a little. Actually I can see that it has settled some. Then when I add my final layer of soil maybe it won't sink in as much.
I'd like to plant tomatoes and summer squash and some herbs. There's a good chance I'll have a problem with deer eating the garden, but I'll deal with that when it happens. I've been reading up on deer, and raccoons eating the garden. Once I get the veggies planted I'll post about it so you can see it finished!
Do you have a vegetable garden? I would love to hear about it (and learn from you).
Thanks for stopping by!




  1. Gina! That is so cool!! You really are a girl of many talents. :) I'm looking forward to seeing pictures of your veggies. :)

  2. Now that is a unique and clever idea! I would love to have a few raised beds in our backyard.. Might just do that this year!

    We are tobacco farmers and have a problem with our deer eating the tops out of the plants! Takes a bite out of our profit margin too.

    Hubby used to buy Liquid Fence... EXPENSIVE mess it is..

    A local farmer concocted his own brew, so to speak, and now hubby uses it and it works better than the expensive chemical..

    Take 5 dozen eggs and break them in to a 5 gallon bucket.. Toss your egg shells in the compost bin.. :)

    Finish filling the bucket up with water and then mix the eggs and water well... and no, we aren't baking a cake.. lol (maybe the deer wish we were) :)

    Put a lid on the bucket (you will be glad you did) and set somewhere for the mixture to go sour..

    Put some of it in a sprayer and spray your plants.. It WILL keep the deer away/..

    and it is non-toxic like Liquid fence is.. Cost a lot less too.

  3. I am visiting from Pigtales and Quilts-big project! you will love it though

  4. WOW you did a lot of work. I'd love to have a raised flower bed also, but my garden is way to small for it. Thanks for sharing!

  5. What a cool idea. I can't wait to see how your garden turns out.

  6. Love this idea sis. All of your hard work will pay off. Looking forward to seeing your progress and what you are growing.

  7. I got another, BETTER idea to keep deer, snakes, any kind of predators, frost, freeze, 30s, 90s and even 40s Fahrenheit, even mosquitoes away from your garden.... move to the Azores islands, where there is ZERO of the above. All you have to do then is plant your garden and just keep your cat away from it.