by Debra Sorenson
After years of putting in a garden and many hours of chopping, watering, preventing hogs from getting in the garden, droughts and then too much rain, we decided it wasn’t worth it. Some years we had an abundance of green beans, black eyed peas, squash, and okra, but not enough to outweigh all the work.
Then on September 12, 2019, I attended the Master Naturalist meeting and the presentation was on Keyhole Gardening. “WA LA!” This may be our solution, I thought. I purchased the book, Spoiled Rotten ,by Deb Tolman, Ph.D., and began gathering materials for our garden. NOTE – my husband thought I was nuts!
Here are my steps (photos of the stages are below):
- We used an old water trough, cut the bottom out and put galvanized small wire in the bottom to keep gophers out.
- We made the keyhole for composting scraps out of wire and wrapped it with old window screens. The purpose of the window screen is to keep the roots from going into the keyhole while allowing the nutrients from the compost to feed the plants.
- Added a layer of rocks over the wire for drainage.
- Then alternated layers of sticks, wet paper feed sacks, dried cow manure, wet cardboard boxes, blue jean (cotton) scraps, and paper. It took more materials than you would think!
- The top 8 – 10” is bagged garden soil. TA DA! You could use your own soil but ours isn’t the best – clay and sand…
Our spring garden was not as productive as we hoped, as there was not enough time for the compost to supply the nutrients for the plants.
This fall, I worked in bags of Miracle Grow (shhh…it’s all supposed to be organic) to help give the plants a boost. Next spring, we will work in some chicken manure and compost from the Bird and Bee Farm or the mushroom compost from the Madisonville area!
We’ve got lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots (just coming up), brussels sprout, mint, one pepper plant, and a rogue cantaloupe from the spring! Delicious! And it’s so much easier than the traditional garden.
My husband thinks we should do another one in the spring, as he’s got another water trough with a rusted holey bottom. He realized that I’m not as nuts as he first thought!