Filling A Keyhole Garden

6 Materials
$0
1 Day
Easy

Have terrible soil? Living in the middle of a drought but still want fresh vegetables? Then you need a keyhole garden! If you missed my post "Building A Keyhole Garden," please refer to it first. http://www.hometalk.com/4517042/building-a-keyhole-garden
filling a keyhole garden, cleaning tips, composting, gardening, go green, lawn care
Now that you have your keyhole, be it made of stone, brick or cinder block, it's time to fill it up with "brown" and "green" items typically destined for the landfill. Brown items are cardboard, newspaper and old leaves. Green are coffee grounds, grass clippings, green leaves, compost and horse manure. NOTE: It is best to do all the filling in one day. Otherwise, your layers could dry out and become unmanageable.
filling a keyhole garden, cleaning tips, composting, gardening, go green, lawn care
Cardboard is the first item you will need. A lot of it. The inside of the keyhole will need to be lined with a least a couple layers of thick cardboard. The best kind to use is large appliance boxes which I acquired for free from Lowes. To line the inside walls, the cardboard must be dampened so that you can mold it to the sides like wall paper.
Next, you will need to fill the bottom of the bed with a few layers of damp, tightly rolled up cardboard. Once you cardboard is all in place, give a good spray down.
filling a keyhole garden, cleaning tips, composting, gardening, go green, lawn care
The next item is newspapers and phone books and even jeans! Toss in a layer several newspapers deep. Spray with hose again. You want those layers compact as possible before adding soil.
filling a keyhole garden, cleaning tips, composting, gardening, go green, lawn care
Next add brown leaves. I collected about 12 large bags from the neighborhood curbsides. Check your neighborhood for bags of leaves. That's half the work right there! Top leaves with another layer of tightly rolled newspaper and hose down.
filling a keyhole garden, cleaning tips, composting, gardening, go green, lawn care
The next layer you need to add is greens. Need to prune back some branches? Toss the foliage in here! Stomp down well. You may also add other green items such as compost, grass clippings (no weeds), coffee grounds (free at starbucks), etc.
Overall, your keyhole should be filled 1/3rd of the depth with brown items, 1/3rd with green and 1/3rd with soil/manure/compost.
filling a keyhole garden, cleaning tips, composting, gardening, go green, lawn care
I used a mixture of compost, horse manure and potting soil (about 25 large bags) to fill the rest. Note that the soil will settle as the layers decompose so really fill it up! Create a dome shape with the soil to allow for the sinkage.
filling a keyhole garden, cleaning tips, composting, gardening, go green, lawn care
Finally, add your plants all around and water in well. Keyhole plants work to shade the other and thrive in this small space. Again, this type of garden is ideal for hot, dry climates where leaves are not as prone to mildew or rot.
filling a keyhole garden, cleaning tips, composting, gardening, go green, lawn care
Above is my keyhole about 6 weeks after planting. To learn more about how to maintain a successful keyhole garden, check out my follow-up post "Maintaining A Keyhole Garden." For more details on filling a keyhole garden, check out my blog post below!

Suggested materials:

  • Cardboard  (everywhere)
  • Coffee grounds  (Starbucks (ask!))
  • Phone books/Magazines
See all materials
Leilani Smith

Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!

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Have a question about this project?

1 question
  • Sandy Porterfield
    on Jan 15, 2017

    What do you do the next season? Take the dirt out and start over or add more dirt?

    • Leilani Smith
      on Jan 16, 2017

      No no! Dirt stays. You can add more leaves and organic materials as the soil sinks to maintain soil levels.

Join the conversation

2 of 51 comments
  • CJ
    on Aug 23, 2015

    WOW Leilani, the picture of your finished, growing garden is Fabulous!!! What a cool idea......

  • Mary Andrews
    on Sep 6, 2015

    What a wonderful idea, can't wait to make me one of these.

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