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How to Make a Sustainable Keyhole Garden


If you’ve never heard of a keyhole garden, the concept was first started in Africa as a way to maximize water and other resources. In Texas, the keyhole garden is growing in popularity for the same reason. It uses minimal water (up to 70% less) and is a great way to re-purpose waste, like banana peels and potato skins, that you would normally just throw away. If you’d rather not spend an hour a day watering your garden, check out this nifty little idea and grow some extraordinary vegetables.

In essence, a keyhole garden is a raised-bed planter that reaches waist-high and is built in the shape of a circle measuring approximately 5 feet in diameter. A hole in the middle holds a composting basket that keeps the soil moist and fed. If you look at it from above, it looks like a keyhole or a piece of pie with a missing slice.

People that we’ve known who have built their own are amazed at how little water is needed and yet how lush and prosperous the plants are in this mini ecosystem. It’s pretty easy to build your own – just follow these instructions:

  1. First you’ll need some bricks or rocks, a compost bin or some wire mesh to make your own cylindrical composter. Of course, you can save yourself some time and effort by shopping for an  attractive, pre-built keyhole planter online.
  2. Next, make a circle with the bricks by stacking them 3 or 4 high, depending upon how you stack the bricks. The circle should be large enough to accommodate the composter in the middle of the circle. Make sure that your arm can reach the composter in the center – this will ensure you’ll be able to harvest all of your crops.
  3. Make sure the wedged section, or keyhole, is large enough so that you can walk up to the composter for refilling.
  4. Fill the planting space with biodegradable materials such as newspaper and cardboard, then top with nutrient-rich soil in such a way that it slopes away from the compost basket. This is to encourage proper drainage.
  5. Plant your veggies in sections – tomatoes go in one pie slice for example, spinach another, and so on.
  6. Fill with compost daily, or as you have it, then water (approximately a gallon a week) over the compost. It should disseminate the nutrients and water nicely throughout the garden, leaving your plants happy and healthy!

For a luxury custom home to go with your awesomely sustainable garden, call us at 210-494-5400 for a consultation. If you wish to be added to our private email list for our newsletter, please sign up here.