A Keyhole Garden in Africa

I’m working on a dry climate version of a keyhole garden with an integrated compost bin for our own yard (it will be lower to the ground rather than raised). With our alkaline soil I’ll also skip the ash. But, in principle, it will be similar to this one.

Thanks to Rober Fixer Smith for the link.

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  1. Yay for keyholes! We built one last year in our permablitz project here in Istanbul. It was around a feet deep, and didn’t incorporate the central compost bit. We also made it into a kind of hugelkultur by laying lots of pruned branches that were “waste” at the site at the bottom of the keyhole to soak up water and keep moist the whole pile, and covered with a layer of straw as mulch. The whole thing worked like a charm even though we are told the owners didn’t put too much looking after into it after we left. I swear by hugelkultur-type implementations with thick mulching for any climate that is dry. I think it would work great in your garden too. We are both Mediterranean except you have milder winters.

  2. Cool! Is the central compost bin there to attract and retain beneficial soil organisms? I suppose by watering the compost bin, the nutrients are filtering out the bottom and into the garden bed?

  3. I love this blog! Just discovered it via Homesteading / Survivalism on Facebook they’ve featured you rocket stove, I will have to make my own very soon 🙂 Very impressed by everything you have on here, I like the wide variety posts and keep up the good work!

  4. Interesting Video. I have a friend who teaches such things in Tanzania, Kenya, Congo and S Sudan. He has taught the double dug, and vertical garden. He happens to be state side right now, I’m going to show him this video and connect him with your blog as well. It’s great to share ideas and learn from one another. The only problem for me is that I’m not sure where in my yard I can fit a keyhole garden. I love adding the variety of gardens. It makes for such an interesting yard.
    If you are interested you can check out my friends site.

  5. I agree. Rootsimple is awesome. I check daily. Saturdays or sundays they have links to fun articles. I check this and blog.holyscraphotsprings.com

  6. i went to tanzania last dec. with a church group. it really changed the way i look at things. there is such a need for good sustainable agricultural practices there, the sad part is that it is the women that do most of the work, it was nothing to see a young woman with a baby slung on her back hoeing the 3 to 5 acres of corn, and then knowing that at night she was cooking in her hut to feed the rest of her family

    • Hey PP,

      In permaculture there is the idea of “stacking functions” — by locating the compost next to the bed, you get a mutual benefit. The shape, a circle with a path to the center, also makes it easier to access the plants.

  7. Maybe I asked the wrong question. I got the nutrients being nearby where they were needed. I may put a compost container in my 4×4 garden. What is the little irregularity in the rock wall?

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