Keyhold Gardening

A keyhole garden is a round raised garden bed about 6-10′ in diameter and up to 3′ high. An opening shaped like a pie slice is cut out of one side so that the gardener can walk into the space without stepping into the garden and have access to tend the entire bed. A round, 1-2′ in diameter wire cylinder forms a compost basket in the center. The basket is filled with compost ingredients and watered throughout the growing season making the best use of water and fertilizer on-site. The garden bed is usually lined with cardboard and filled with compostable materials including cardboard, newspaper, soil, food scraps, phone books, compost, coffee grounds even old cotton clothes. Top with soil and mound it higher in the center and lower toward the outer edge. This allows for more planting space and easier access to the planting area. The keyhole garden is also a Hugulkultur bed as more than 6 large 5 year old tree stumps are buried inside.

Keyhole gardens are being used in Africa to teach self sufficiency to native people who have to deal with lack of rain and poor soil. This front yard was covered in landscape stone a short time ago, then covered again with poor clay subsoil and tightly compacted by heavy construction machinery. This space also enjoys the best, full sun, exposure on my lot. The keyhole is a great solution and allows me to densely plant the area without having to deal with, or struggle to improve, the native soil!

Starting seeds, a new keyhole garden and a source for alpaca poop!

It’s been a mild winter in 2017 in New Jersey. February felt like it had more 60 degree days than it didn’t. The loose, opening buds on my fruit trees are giving me some anxiety because the temperature has dropped to seasonably reasonable lows this week. But as the ground thaws and we get closer … Read more

Planting Chard in the Keyhole Garden

It’s been weeks since it’s rained here! I can’t believe how often I’ve needed to use the sprinklers since I’ve planted my seeds in the veggie gardens in the back yard. The grass seed is coming up beautifully and I’ve already seeded over what I initially put down. I’m keeping track of what I planted … Read more

Dare I Say, I’m Looking Forward to Fall

For the colors, the cleanup and the fallback, regroup that comes with moving stuff around, planting new things and planning for next year. I’m enjoying the tomatoes coming in from the yard and am frustrated by the puny growth on my brassicas which may be due to the heat or not enough fertility. I haven’t … Read more

Enjoying the August Garden While Waiting for Elderberries and Sunchokes

The elderberries are almost ripe! These bushes are right near the street in the front yard, so they aren’t netted at all. I’m keeping a close eye on them so I might get some before the birds do. Those sunchokes, or Jerusalem artichokes, on the right, are pretty tall now. I don’t even see one … Read more

New To Me, Kohlrabi!

I’ve never eaten it before, let alone tried to grow it, but this year Kohlrabi is making an appearance in the keyhole garden. I planted it in early spring from seed. It survived the early attack of the cabbage moths that took out my whole crop of mustard greens and seems to have been staying … Read more

Summer Garden and Front Yard Changes

In the beginning of the season I tried something I read online. If you take some store bought celery and cut off all the stalks and leave about 2” at the base, you can soak the base in water for a couple of days and then plant it and it will regrow. I did this … Read more

Late June in My NJ Garden

I didn’t think any of the squash or cucumbers had a chance of coming through and bearing fruit this year with the zillions of cucumber beetles and squash bugs I saw earlier in the season, but these plants are troopers! Now that the hot weather has hit, shade or full sun, they are bursting forth … Read more

Late Spring Garden Progress

I have to keep reminding myself that it’s not even June yet. It seems like the growing season started so early this year. I took some pictures around the yard so see how things are growing so far. Yesterday I removed the 2 volunteer squash I had growing in the keyhole garden. It was an … Read more

Getting Busy in the Keyhole Garden

It doesn’t look like there is much planted in there now, but those tiny plants are going to fill in all that space real soon. I’ve planted various kinds of peppers, nasturtiums, cabbage, escarole, strawberry spinach, kohlrabi, radishes and a couple of marigolds in the keyhole this spring. I’ve already got a volunteer squash or … Read more

Solar Frog Puddle and Planting Cucumbers

It’s over 80* out in New Jersey today and tomorrow. I put the sprinklers on for the first time today. Though it will get colder near the end of the week, I am taking the chance and planting cucumber seeds today. My friend Angela came over for coffee and I coaxed her out to the … Read more

Newspaper Pots, More Hugulkultur and What’s Growing Now

Here’s a peek inside my greenhouse so you can see the newspaper pots! I followed this tutorial on youtube, but instead of a soup can, which turned out to be pretty big, I used a spray oil can which is concave on the bottom and let me tuck the bottoms of the pots up against … Read more

Starting seeds for 2012

I need to call some local tree services and see if I can get someone to dump a load of woodchips for me. I need a lot more mulch this season. Last year’s load has broken down beautifully and I think everything could use a fresh layer. The crocus and lilies are beginning to push … Read more

Fall Lettuce is Amazing

I planted lettuce hoping for a harvest before life at the Jersey Shore got too cold and froze over. Boy do I have lettuce now! When I plant it in spring it bolts so fast, but this lettuce has been going strong for weeks now. I’ve had a few salads from these beds already and, … Read more

Evicting the Ants and Gardening in the Fall

Our mailman actually held our mail on Friday because, this is so gross, about half of the inside of the mailbox was coated in black ants. He must think we are completely crazy but we did not know about it until my husband peeked in there on Sunday afternoon. He brings in the mail every … Read more

Grass as Mulch and New Flowers Blooming

We’ve been getting a lot of rain this week which is great for my garden, but not so fantastic for my husband’s vacation. I almost feel bad for being so thrilled about it. I recently planted what is probably my last set of bush beans in the garden to replace some of the spent zucchini … Read more

Turnips with Tunnels, Wilting Cucumbers and Blighted Tomatoes

I haven’t posted in a while – it’s been a busy summer and I’ve been enjoying my garden’s bounty. Contrary to the title of the post, the garden’s been great so far. I’ve had more zucchini this season than last season. I’ve got a basket of fresh tomatoes on my counter that I’ve been using … Read more

Planted Squash, Cucumber, Melons and Some Flowers This Week.

Yesterday I planted some more bush beans in the front and back yard and put some nasturtium seeds in the garden too. I hope they come up sooner this year than last year. Today I put some purple tansy seeds directly in the garden around my started squash and zucchini plants. I hope these will … Read more

So Much Planting Going On!

These are some lettuce transplants that are starting to grab hold in the keyhole garden. I’ve started some greens in there from seed and they are coming up slow. You can see a couple of tiny seedlings down near the bottom. I can’t wait till it’s filled with ruffled green leaves! The nurseries are sending … Read more

Keyhole Garden is All Filled Up!

Oooooh, my back! (well, not yet. but I’m gonna feel it tomorrow.) This dark patch is where my spring bulbs are starting to come up. We’ve been hanging out in the front yard and the kids were getting dangerously close to running right through them. I had to make them noticeable! I can’t wait for … Read more

2011 Garden Plan

Here it is. The plan for this season. I’m about to plant the cool seasons stuff any day now – peas, cabbage, spinach, lettuce, raab… I want to get out there and do it!! The seedlings in the aerogarden are getting big and I’ve already had to take some out and pot them up because … Read more

Keyhole Garden Progress

The walls of the keyhole garden are complete. All told, I spent just about $100 on the 2 top levels of brick because I already had the 2 bottom levels around the yard. I lined the side walls with cardboard, but not the bottom. Some of the other keyhole gardens I’ve seen online line the … Read more

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 … Read more

Winter Sowing and a Keyhole Garden

I put together a few flats of winter sown (more info and how-to here) seeds today. Huckleberry, currants, gooseberry, Jack in the Pulpit and elderberry. I know the berries may take longer to germinate – maybe not even until next year – but I really hope it works. I’ll be patient and I won’t toss … Read more