Keyhole Gardening In Arizona

Keyhole Gardening In Arizona

If you live in Arizona and are searching for “Keyhole Gardening” you are probably looking for a new way to get the most out of your gardening efforts.  Summers are hot in Arizona and there typically isn’t much rainfall. Building a drought tolerant garden is one of the challenges for gardeners in the arid areas in the southwest.

What Is A Keyhole Garden?

Keyhole gardens are a type of raised-bed gardening system. The shape of the raise-bed planter is typically made in a circular shape that is about 6 feet wide. It is most comfortable when the height is about waist level, to reduce on bending down and straining your back. While the garden is built in a circular shape, a section is left open so it is easy to walk up to the center of the garden.

The purpose of leaving this area open is to access the center area that is used to contain compost. With the center of the keyhole garden chalked full of nutrients it helps nourish the soil. The style of the garden lends its name from the overhead appearance looking like the opening to a keyhole. These gardens can be made with inexpensive materials or recycled materials and due to their design use considerably less water than conventional gardening types.

How Keyhole Gardens Does More With Less

Keyhole gardening grows more produce, will less water. This is achieved via a unique approach to design. Typically gardens involve frequent watering and periodic fertilizing to increase the nutrient content in the soil. Gardeners that include their compost in their gardening habits usually have a compost pile, and must use buckets or wheelbarrows to take the compost from the pile, to where they want to work. Keyhole gardens are connected directly with the compost pile. Every time the keyhole garden is watered or it rains the nutrients from the compost pile are distributed onto and into the soil.

Where Did Keyhole Gardening Start?

The keyhole gardening system was developed by humanitarian aid organizations that were working in southern Africa. The climate in these areas is known for being extremely dry and can be unforgiving. Residents of south African countries struggled to garden with depleted and eroded soils caused by intensive agricultural actives. The BBC reports that a family in Lesotho Africa is able to feed a family of 10 with just 3 keyhole gardens, and even have excess to sell throughout the year.

Building A Keyhole Garden

Keyhole Garden Construction Illustration

Keyhole gardens are fairly simple to construct. They consist of a raise center compost pile contained by sturdy but permeable wrapping, surrounded by gently sloped soil, and an exterior wall. Many times the base layer will include a drainage layer that is made from debris, twigs, or even a rock layer. They are usually anywhere from 2 to 3 feet in height and 6 feet wide. When building your keyhole garden you should ensure it is built to the height you are comfortable working at. Gardeners that prefer to sit on a stool while they work their raised garden beds a lower 2 foot height is best.

East Valley Gardening Nurseries

If you need materials, gardening tools, plants, or advice on how to get your garden started or make the most of the garden you already have, come see the experts at A&P Nursery at one of our convenient east valley nurseries. Keyhole gardening will help you use less water, and get the most out of your soil by continually distributing the nutrients from your compost. Stop by or give us a call at the location nearest you.

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