Haven’t Heard of a Keyhole Salad Garden?

Gardening Basics
// March 5, 2018
Stacked brick keyhole garden

Keyhole Salad Garden is not a garden style, in fact, it is an element that can be incorporated in a variety of garden types. You might be wondering what exactly a Keyhole Garden is? Read along.

History of Keyhole Salad Garden:

Keyhole Salad Gardens were created by charitable organizations to help emerging countries create a self-sustainable source of food. Since constructing this particular type of garden uses recycled materials like tin and bricks – schools in these countries used these gardens to grow highly nutritious food for providing meals in schools and as a learning tool for children so that they could take gardening lessons home. The compost center would not only provide nutrients to the plants but will also extend the scope of using kitchen waste.

Veggies growing in keyhole garden

Image Source: http://www.growrealfood.com/gardening/

Keyhole Salad Garden Decoded:

You are aware of Raised Beds. The basic idea to create is a raised bed is to elevate the garden to minimize water clogging, maximize drainage, improve the soil and keep it easily accessible. Keyhole Salad Garden is an extension of the same idea. The only difference is that in Keyhole Salad Garden a center compost area is created that works as a self-fertilizing agent for the plants. Not only this, in a Keyhole Salad Garden specific herbs and vegetables are planted together so that they can be picked at the same time for creating a delicious cuisine.

Lid at the center of Keyhole garden

Image Source: https://insteading.com/blog/keyhole-garden/

How can I create a Keyhole Salad Garden?

Creating a Keyhole Salad Garden is extremely easy. To develop walls, you need rock, bricks, stone or metals. There is no specific height for this garden, but maximum 6 feet height and a small diameter would do the needful. The access notch would make the garden look like a keyhole, and lead to the composting center. Place it on the north, i.e., sunny side of the bed, so that plants capture the sun better.

Use a garden hose to craft a circular area about 6 feet in diameter. Mark an access notch that would act as a keyhole. Make a space of a foot and create your composting basket using sticks, positioned vertically, and twine or wire.  Place some rocks at the bottom of the composting basket to facilitate drainage. Cover the stones with garden soil, along with kitchen and garden scraps. See how to build a keyhole garden with regular bricks here.

Create a shed to cover the compost basket so that it does not dry during extreme heat and get waterlogged during rains. Too much water could leach out the nutrients from the soil.

You can build the garden walls with rocks, bricks, or blocks. Build the walls as per your convenience by choosing the materials you have at hand. The compost will increase soil volume, so you can continue building the garden walls up.

The most crucial part of successful Keyhole Salad Garden would be layering the soil.

  • Build the lowest layer with pots, tin cans, and twigs.  These materials would facilitate drainage.
  • Then make a layer of cardboard, straw, topsoil, ashes, compost, and aged manure.  
  • Create the top layer with the best soil.  
  • Remember that the soil should slope a little away from the composting basket so that the nutrients will reach the garden borders. Buy composter kit online.
  • Leave the soil to rest for a while before planting seeds or seedlings.  
how to build keyhole garden

Image Source: https://insteading.com/blog/keyhole-garden/

How to plant in a Keyhole Salad Garden?

  • Plant minimum four different types of vegetables to maintain fertility and to promote pest resistance.  Onion and garlic, provide best pest protection.  
  • Plant tall plants at the center of the garden, and the dwarf varieties in
  • Plant leafy greens along with root vegetables. Root plants include carrots, beets, and radishes; and leafy varieties include Spinach, lettuce, and herbs.
  • Plant Tomatoes at the center of the garden so that the basket to provides support to the plant.   
  • Directly water the seeds and young plants until roots are established.  
  • Once the plants begin to mature, use kitchen waste in the compost basket.  
  • Water from the compost basket is sufficient for the garden to sustain.
Making compost to use in keyhole garden

Image Source: https://insteading.com/blog/keyhole-garden/

Plants and Plantings for a Keyhole Salad Garden:

To savor a bowl of yummy and crunchy salads everyday plant the following:

Framed keyhole garden

Let us know if you would like to try building a Keyhole Salad Garden. We would indeed be happy to help.

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Gardening Basics