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!
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 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:
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.
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.