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Filling A Keyhole Garden

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
Time: 1 Days Cost: $0 Difficulty: Easy
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!

Materials used for this project:

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

To see more: http://keepingupwithmrssmith.com/gardening/keyhole-2/

Ask the creator about this project

  • HouseLogic.com
    HouseLogic.com Chicago, IL
    on Jul 24, 2015


  • Hannah V
    Hannah V Brooklyn, NY
    on Jul 24, 2015

    It's. so. pretty!

  • Anita Buford Burns
    Anita Buford Burns
    on Jul 27, 2015

    Such a great idea! Just because I didn't see the purpose of the screen tube, I went to the blog and copied the following:Step #2: Build and insert the center basket The center “basket” is the star of the keyhole since it is where you will water and feed the garden. To make the basket, take your scrap of chicken wire and roll it length-wise until the diameter is 1′ wide. Bend the wires with pliers to secure the structure. Place the basket at the crest of the curve of the keyhole.- See more at: http://keepingupwithmrssmith.com/gardening/keyhole-2/#sthash.sPSrXbAj.dpuf This acts as a mini compost basket and watering place. Wish I had added this to the raised bed we built this spring. Thanks for the ideas.

  • Heather
    Heather United Kingdom
    on Jul 30, 2015

    It looks really great.

  • Debbie Scott
    Debbie Scott Forney, TX
    on Jul 30, 2015

    What is the purpose of the screen cylinder?

Inspired? Will you try this project? Let the author know!