AS pressure on water and land resources continues to grow for many communities around the world, a new concept of gardening is slowly engulfing marginalised communities.This is what is referred to as key hole gardening. This is whereby a household instead of planting a whole garden, it just erects a small portion of the garden filling it with compost and good soil. The erected area will have what is termed a keyhole in the middle, which is really the life blood of the design. There are so many advantages of having a key hole garden particularly in drought stricken areas. Chief among them is the use of less water as compared to normal gardens. The soil around the key hole is always filled with plenty of nutrients. This low cost technology, reduces the amount of time required for gardening hence freeing one’s time to do other tasks, while its circular design gives it easy access to elderly or sick persons.
All the materials for constructing this revolutionary garden are available within the community at no extra cost to the family. However, seeds or seedlings for planting will have to be sourced.
So how does one go about in constructing a key hole garden? Clear a two-metre circular area and erect four corner posts (50cm square) right in the middle of the circle. The next step is to fence the square area with wire mesh or grass, which will allow water to move into the surrounding soil. On the first layer place stones fist size, beverage cans, bones, and leaves which will give the garden enough drainage. Cover the first layer with soil, thatching grass and wood ash. Continue adding soil mixed with manure but slant the slope outwards adding a wall of stones but on one portion of the circle cut inwards. Your garden will be ready for planting.
To maintain the garden add vegetable waste, dry manure, compost eggshells into the middle area which you can refer to as the basket to replenish the soil. You can also replace the old basket after two years. After four to five years one can destroy the garden and build a new one. Keep adding manure to the surrounding soil as well to maintain fertility.
Water the garden with water but place dirty laundry water in the basket. Denying the garden a little bit of water forces the roots to grow towards the compost in the middle.
It is also possible to put a plastic or shade cloth in hot weather over the structure, creating a mini greenhouse. You will be able to plant different vegetables in your garden. The best vegetables for this type of garden are garlic, onions, carrots, beetroot, spinach, lettuce, rape, mustard spinach and herbs. However, some vegetables do not always do very well but try them anyway such as tomatoes, cabbages, chillies, potatoes, squash, eggplant, maize and beans.
Gardening will never be the same with this method of farming even for the extremely busy individuals in our modern life. For those with small gardens and limited space, the possibilities are limitless and with advantage of utilising all our vegetable kitchen waste. Find freedom with the key hole gardening concept!
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