Beginning a Front Yard Food Keyhole Garden

Back in December I came across a video on youtube and started looking into creating a keyhole garden in my front yard. See my original keyhole garden post. The weather warmed up a bit here at the Jersey Shore for a few days so I wanted to begin putting it together to have it ready to plant this spring. I was really going for a no-cost solution and wanted to use materials I already had to put it together. We have lots of firewood in the back yard that is cut too long for our insert stove and DH hasn’t gotten around to making the logs any shorter, so I planned on making the outside wall out of those logs.

First I found what I wanted to be the center of the garden.

I put in a stake, tied some twine to it, measured about 18” out from the stake and drew a circle around the stake in the dirt.

I nailed a big metal nail into the ground every 6” or so around that circle, took took it out and replaced it with bamboo stakes. (I now think they would be too flimsy to support the center compost basket)

Next, I walked out from the center stake with the twine to create the outer edge of the garden and walked around it, tracing the larger circle into the dirt and dug a shallow trench along the circle.

I fanned the logs for the wall out on the ground around my measured circle, so I knew how many I would need and could decide which ones would go where.

Then I measured a length of old hose that would hold the tops of the logs together so they wouldn’t spread out when I filled the garden up with soil.

I began to stand up each log into the trench and wind twine around the tops of the logs and the length of hose, securing the logs together along the hose.

I decided the twine was a bad idea and would probably fail early in the season because it just wouldn’t be strong enough. I intended to go to home depot and buy some baling wire and use the same technique but hopefully with a sturdier result.

DH expressed concern about the wood rotting and especially about providing a feast for termites, so I scrapped this first version of the project and stacked the wood again.

For the second try, I made the outer circle a little smaller. I realized that if I went with my first measurement, I wouldn’t have been able to reach the center of the garden from the outside wall and I may have had to use a few long handled tools to tend some hard to reach places.

This time I made the radius of the circle the length of my garden rake and will be using a collapsible fabric/metal spring garden container as my center basket. I’m moving around some bricks from other parts of my landscape and plant to replace them with something else later in the season.

I still need to buy about 50 more bricks to do 2 more levels around the outer wall.

My neighbor came outside to ask “What the hell are you building?” I told him it will be a garden and we decided to go with the brick instead of wood. He said I would be better off, but I think the wood would have looked cool.

2 thoughts on “Beginning a Front Yard Food Keyhole Garden”

  1. Hi Len – sorry I didn’t see this comment until now. I really just measured and marked the circle out with a garden stake and then started laying out the brick and building the wall because the ground is relatively flat here. Once the wall was built, I used cardboard to line the inside of the wall and then I used a pickax and gouged the hell out of the ground inside the circle before I started filling in with more soil and compost from my local municipal compost/recycling center. It’s all filled in now – you can see a picture in a newer post (either the next one or the one after that). I planted some greens and they are finally starting to germinate – we had another cold snap here in NJ, but this week is supposed to be nice. 🙂

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