Permaculture Gardening – Keyhole Garden

recommended by Ewa Bekiesch – certified Permaculture designer and educator, sustainable living consultant – Permaculture Haven

An amazing all-in-one solution. Great for any size of the garden. Perfect for small-size backyards and gardening with kids as it can be built at a different height depending on your needs. The keyhole garden is a combination of a compost bin and a raised garden bed where both complement each other perfectly.

  • The compost bin is functioning like any other compost bin and should be treated like that. However, no need to remove the compost Think about keeping the right balance of TWO parts of brown material: ONE part of greens.
  • Worms and microorganisms will turn the garden waste into natural fertiliser and enrich the soil in the garden bed
  • The high worm and microorganisms activity will keep the soil healthy, well-drained and provide perfect conditions for growing food

When you decide to build one or more of these, consider using recycled or second-hand materials. You can use rocks, bricks, concrete blocks, timber, and so on. The shape does not need to be round. The height can also be as you want it. However, think about it the higher you go up, the more material you need and the soil will dry out very quickly. My favorite height is anything between 20cm and 40cm at the most.

When building the garden bed, there is no need to remove vegetation from the place you want to build it. Simply mow the grass and place one or two layers of plain cardboard on top. The plants underneath will decompose and provide additional fertiliser for the soil. Build the frame of the garden bed from available materials. Fill in with different materials like shown in the drawing. Depending on the height you choose, you might leave the logs/sticks out of your design. They make sense when your garden bed is going to be about 40cm or higher. Finish off with mulch and you’re good to plant your first seedlings! Remember, that the soil in a freshly build bed needs to get established. Beginning with easy-to-grow edibles will most likely be more successful. Growing different edibles in one bed are highly recommended. Companion planting helps maintain healthy soil and discourages pests from damaging your plants. Adding some edible and/or useful flowers is also a helpful and beautiful feature of the garden.

For the composting bin, choose any material you like. Secondhand and recycled materials are always best! An old plastic planting pot (drill large holes throughout), laundry basket, galvanised chicken mesh, and so on. Just think that it will sit in a moist environment so choose accordingly. A simple think wire mesh will rust away very quickly. I am usually not for plastic but in this case, plastic is best and there are plenty of old plastic containers which can be utilised. Once your project is finished, add some garden waste + some compost into the compost bin to get things started. Happy permaculturing!

Any questions or comments? Simply comment below under the article.

****Update**** and answer to a question asked many times already: Yes, of course, you can use the compost bin as a worm farm and add the Eisenia foetida and Lumbricus rubellis worms into there.

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