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Our new keyhole beds!  RSS feed

 
Chris Dean
Posts: 108
Location: South New Mexico Mountains
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I finished these about 2 months ago and thought some of you would like to see--I know I like seeing pics of what people are doing!



There are four keyhole beds of differing sizes and one bed on the far left made to fit the shape around the pathway.  They were all sheet mulched--newspaper/cardboard on bottom, a bunch of hay, topped with compost.  I've been meaning to cover the compost with leaves but have yet to get around to it.  After two months pill bugs have eaten many large holes in the cardboard and newspaper and the bottom of the hay has transformed into some great soil.

The compost is turkey compost bought in bulk from a local nursery.  It wasn't until after I purchased it that I began reading about contaminated compost.  D'oh!  I've only read about compost coming from horses and cattle though so I'm hopeful.  Will plant something this fall to see how it fares.  In any case, it motivated me to start my own manure and leaves compost bins--I've been putting it off for months!
 
tel jetson
steward
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Location: woodland, washington
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looks good.  what do you plan on growing in those?
 
Chris Dean
Posts: 108
Location: South New Mexico Mountains
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Thanks tel! We'll be growing veggies and herbs here, and comfrey for mulch along the fence in the back.  There are three other sections of the yard about the same size and I'm slowly working on two of the others for more growing with different techniques (hugelkulture is the next one).  The fourth will be a pond.
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4434
Location: North Central Michigan
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looks like some decent use of the space..thanks for sharing
 
rose macaskie
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Please will someone explain keyhole beds,  hozomeen who has made them would be good, i dont know about them, only  what i observed in a video of bill mollison and guess work,  i suppose i could look them up but if it can be explained here, well, that makes it easier. agri rose maccaskie.
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4434
Location: North Central Michigan
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the path goes into a circle to form what appears to look like a keyhole..to gain access to the center of the bed.

in my gardens I chose to NOT do keyholes as I put things in the center of my beds that wouldn't require constant access, such as dwarf fruit trees surrounded by herbs..or beneficial insect attracting plants like yarrow

therefor I don't feel the need to have the paths and rather use the path area for productive plants..

my property is mainly based on circles with most of my lawn areas and garden areas done in circles  or curves..and my paths are edged lawn paths that can be maintained with a mower...some are wide enough to actually be considered lawns or roads or trails..some actually started out as lawns, but the bed encroached onto the lawns to make them more into trails than actual lawns.


Permaculture literature and Gaia's garden shows more on keyhole beds in the books avail
 
rose macaskie
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<did not bill mollison put a lot of mulch into the middle of his keyhole bed though in dryland techniques video? rose
 
Dave Miller
pollinator
Posts: 416
Location: Zone 8b: SW Washington
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rose macaskie wrote:
Please will someone explain keyhole beds,  hozomeen who has made them would be good, i dont know about them, only  what i observed in a video of bill mollison and guess work,  i suppose i could look them up but if it can be explained here, well, that makes it easier. agri rose maccaskie.


Here is the segment of toby hemenway's book that talks about keyhole beds:

http://books.google.com/books?id=gxW0MGXha6cC&lpg=PP1&pg=PA36#v=onepage&q&f=false
 
Joel Hollingsworth
pollinator
Posts: 2103
Location: Oakland, CA
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A distinct sort of keyhole bed, especially suited to desert conditions, has a compost pile in the center. This conserves  moisture and nutrients, and saves a lot on hauling.
 
rose macaskie
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      I have been looking it up and found key hole beds in youtube that were built up and as joel hollings worth said had compost in the middle so the central path lead to to the compost centre and you could throw in your kitchen scraps more easily,
    The basket for scraps was also the place to water the bed so the nutrients in the compost part passed into the water that ran through the scraps and into the soil.
    the video was of a keyhole bed in Africa and i thought that maybe these small circular raised beds hold moisture better than a ground level bed would because the water in a raised bed would not wick into the surronding dry soil.
    The beds in the picture where about thigh hieght  and surronded by stones. I htought that in a dry country it could be a good idea to have plastic walls to the keyhole beds that would hold in the moisture even better than stone walls. Maybe the roots would get roasted you would have to shade the plastic walls.
      In bill mollisons videos of dryland solutions keyhole beds he gives another reason for raised beds that it lifts the plants above the salty soil. Arid hot weather makes it easier to have salty soils it seems .
    The soil of the beds as that in the bottom of the kitchen scraps basket was made of a mixture of ash manure soil and hay i think. It was a highly nutrative mix these beds are made for  high production.

      You stick four sticks into the ground where you want to have the centre of your keyhole bed and then add cross bits to your four sticks  so they make a basket like square tube in the centre of the bed.

      These beds grow a heavy production of vegetables in Africa where food is scarce. Normally a heavy production of vegetables in a small space is connected to a big supply of nutrients.
      In the old back gardens in villages they had a lot of manure, privies were the normal type of toilet and pots under your bed, for those who  did not want to go out into the yard in the night. My mother used to give visitors pots so they did not have to go down stairs to the bathroom, she enjoyed maintaining this old fashioned habit or she thought it was good for the ellderly a bit of both. We children had to empty the potties.  I supppose the contents of the privies used to go onto a dung heap in the back garden . That would be  a lot of manure for a small garden at least till the children leave home. No one talks of it as being a danger as town drains are that can get into the ground water system. Mind you I am not a historian.

    It seems right to mention how much manure their used to be for the production of all the vegetables the family ate and in England in villages the majority of the vegetables were, probably still are by the traditional grown in the garden.
  In england there is a village fair everyyear and one of the main events are the prizes for the best vegetables, other events are prizes for the best hand writing of children and flower arrangements . in big towns fo rhte best cow bull and such . The competition for the biggest carrot and such was fierce.  rose macaskie.
 
rose macaskie
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The idea of keyhole beds fed from a central basket full of scraps seems to connect with the  idea of worm tower worm composting in contact with the ground so that they¡ juices from the worm compost leach out into the surrounding earth a good thing to put at the foot of your trees maybe.  that . There were videos of worm towers on the same you tube page, as keyhole beds. 
  To make a worm tower you set a pipe upright into the ground with holes in the sides of the tube for worms to enter into it and leave again in the part you have set into the ground Apparently they enter at night to feed. You put a bit of manure in the bottom and a bit of chopped hay and then just add kitchen scraps periodically and the worms will eat them and the tube will fertilize the ground around. You place a cloth and an upside down flowerpot on the tube as a roof, you also water the tube a bit every so often.
•   They said  o put in worms too but a book i have on manure says there are scrap eating worms around anyway in the ground that find scraps on their own as well as serious, earth only eating worms so maybe you don’t have to buy them, they will move in on their own if a place has food for them. I have holes in the bottom of my compost bin to let in the worms.  That makes two types of central tubes filled with scraps to feed surrounding earth.  Must try worm towers under new trees the trees certainly like the juices of the compost bin leaking in their direction. Agri rose macaskie.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9693
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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There are definitely different kinds of worms!  The big "nightcrawlers" who live in the soil can't live in a worm bin because they must be free to dig deep in the soil to find the appropriate temperatures and moisture levels.  I have tons of these in my vegetable garden.  Red wigglers or manure worms are the kind that do well in worm bins or other confined places - they like warmer and wetter conditions than the "wild" nightcrawlers. 

 
2017 Permaculture Design Course at Wheaton Labs
http://richsoil.com/pdc
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