Chris Dean wrote:Here's the update for this African keyhole bed. I have 6 very happy tomatoes in it, a squash with too much shade that's still doing well, and potatoes and sweet potatoes coming up from leftovers in the center composting area. On the south side I also have basil and oregano.
Some things I've learned
1. I should have faced the keyhole part to the south to maximize sun for everybody. This wasn't a dealbreaker though because everything seems quite content and is growing quickly.
2. This is a glorified, round hugelkultur. I'm not sure that the compost in the center is really that big a deal--this is producing as well as my other hugel beds.
3. Aesthetically, these are really nice. Still I prefer long raised beds. These are a lot of work and you can only make them so big because you need to be able to reach into the middle. I am building one more because I can't fit a long bed in one place in the yard. These would be nice for urban gardens where you care about what the yard looks like (we live out in the country). I threw ours together but it can be made a little more attractive quite easily.
The wood I used in the bottom had been buried for a year and then was dug up to put into this bed, so this may not be typical of a first year with fresh wood.
Irene Kightley wrote:This is one of ours surrounded by tree roots dug up by the pigs. It's about four years old now and I only have to water when I plant :
This is an other one which I'll plant up this year :
Chris Kott wrote:Nick, where are you situated? If I was doing what you are where I am, I'd be calling arbourists (I don't know what else you'd call tree people) for wood chips (preferably only chips from branches less than 3" in diameter, more inner bark, with its starches and minerals in plant food form, resulting in less need for nitrogen to break down and less to no nitrogen draw-down) and the larger logs (much more harder-to-digest lignin). I've been reading recently that if you use chips that are primarily inner bark (they call these smaller branches ramial wood), you can easily manage a 50/50 soil/chip mix with no major issues (although I have heard a lot about the judicious application of LHF (liquid human fertilizer, or urine) at need, with blood meal being a close second in places where disposing of conspicuous jugs of yellow liquid might prove problematic. If you have the leisure of time, I suppose you could use a ground-cover that was comprised of mainly nitrogen-fixers and bioaccumulators with deep or extensive (or both) root systems.
What are you planning on planting?
Jennifer Jennings wrote:Has anyone thought of doing this using a slightly larger hollow central core for composting humanure directly? As long as the bed contains the right plants and is stacked stone/urbanite, the emptied humanure is covered with cover material...could this work? A high surrounding bed would hide the central tube contents and keep the high nitrogen bottom material from burning roots, while providing airflow to the bed. Any ideas?