Editor’s Note: I’ve got that book to write (remember?), so I’m giving over my blog and social media feed to some friends over the next few weeks. I’m counting on y’all to make them feel welcome.
I really love this project because it’s a great way to teach kids the valuable skill of food cultivation. So this particular post is part of the Moms Fighting Hunger campaign, too!
Ciao! My name is Morena Hockley and I am the crafty mind behind the tutorials at Morena’s Corner. I love to share ideas for projects that are fast, frugal, and fabulous: easy on time and money, and great to look at! I am a stay at home mom to four young children, and crafting is what helps me maintain my sanity. In a past life I was an elementary school teacher and an assistant principal. I miss teaching, so my blog is in a sense my virtual classroom.
Today I’m thrilled to join you to share not a craft, but another passion of mine: gardening as a family. The weather is cooling down, so it’s the perfect time to head outside and start building a garden.
A garden design that is drought resistant and incorporates recycling? Yes, please! The second I read about keyhole gardens I knew I wanted to make one. Read on to learn how my family made ours, and how easily you can build one, too!
The keyhole garden design is popular in arid parts of Africa where good soil is scarce. As I read about keyhole gardens in a local magazine, I loved the fact that we could build one with materials we have on hand.
The garden is called “keyhole” because of the shape. It is typically a circular shape with a “wedge” cut in it. The wedge allows easy access to a compost basket in the center of the garden. The compost basket is the keystone in that it provides nutrients and moisture for the garden.
To begin with, we constructed the garden walls using large rocks that were all over our backyard. If you don’t have access to rocks, think of other resources you can recycle: bricks, concrete blocks, leftover wood; the article I read even showed a picture of a garden built in an old boat!
Once the walls were built, we used chicken wire to make the compost basket. Then we lined the rock walls with cardboard and began to fill the bed with old paper, coffee grinds, leaves, vegetable scraps, and other compostable material.
Our kids had a blast ripping up the paper and cardboard to fill the bed. They also liked scooping up the abundant leaves we had on our lawn to fill the bed. When the bed was mostly full we topped it off with some good potting soil. I have heard others complain about all the bags they’ve had to buy to fill their raised beds. I loved that this design required so little soil!
Next, we filled the basket with compostable materials. I had been saving vegetable scraps and coffee grinds for a week in anticipation of this project. You can see in this picture that something is growing in the compost pile now…that’s how fertile it is!
Finally, we planted our seedlings. We had been growing several different plants from seeds during the winter. Unfortunately, our dog was so intrigued by our new garden that the very next day he dug the whole thing up. So, we had to fill it again and, since spring was upon us, buy plants rather than start from seeds again. Still, my kids had fun choosing which produce item they wanted to grow and tend to.
Our garden is thriving, with very little maintenance on our part. We have had gardens in the past, and what I like about this one is that it requires little watering, it is raised so we can access it easily, and we get to compost many of our scraps. It’s a great learning experience for my children. You can see the one red tomato in the photo below…the kids get such a kick out of “finding” things to pick in our garden. They also enjoy using the “Almost Free” watering cans I made for them.
To learn more about building your own keyhole garden, check out this article. This is the source I used for detailed information about how to build our garden. You should give this a shot, even if you don’t think you have a green thumb! You just might surprise yourself!
Morena mentioned African keyhole gardens, and so I just had to share this video again: