The "keyhole" in Africa, the homeland of this planting method, is called a garden, but in our understanding it is rather not a garden, but a high bed. It is very convenient for those who love gardening, but are not ready to experience back pain. With this garden, you can grow enough food to feed a small family. The idea of creating such a design arose precisely in Africa due to the fact that the climate of this continent involves the efficient use of water resources. For Africa and other regions with a hot climate, a keyhole is what you need. However, we have also snuggled up this idea.
The principle of construction of such a “high bed”
The name of the African garden was not invented by chance. If you look at it from above, we will see a form that resembles a classic image of a keyhole. In the center of the structure there will be a compost basket, to which a convenient passage is organized. The diameter of the garden itself will not exceed 2-2.5 meters.
As the container with compost is watered, nutrients will be released from the bed of the bed from the bed. If you constantly add kitchen waste and scavenger to the tank, the reserves of the necessary useful trace elements in the soil will be continuously replenished.
If your region has a rainy climate, then for a compost basket it is better to build a lid. This will help regulate the process of nutrient bed release into the soil. The presence of the lid will reduce the level of evaporation and retain the heat generated during fermentation. The container for compost must necessarily rise above the surface of the soil.
To protect plants from excessive heat or from frost, a protective canopy can be built on top. It is better to make it removable. In the heat, he will create the necessary shadow. In cold weather, a film stretched over a canopy converts a garden bed into a greenhouse.
Plants are planted in a sector located around the basket. The soil should have a slope in the direction from the center of the structure to its edge. Such sloping slopes will increase the area of planting and provide good illumination of all plants. To improve the condition of fertile soil, its stratification is artificially organized.
The first layer is laid on the bottom of the sector. It consists of compost, cardboard, large branches left over from pruning. Then they put mulch, manure, wood ash, dry leaves and grass, newspapers and straw, worms. All this is covered with a layer of soil. Then again follows a layer of dry powdered materials. Alternating layers takes place until it reaches the planned height. The top layer, of course, consists of the most fertile soil. As the beds are filled, each new poured layer is moistened. This is necessary for compaction of materials.
During operation, the garden can be modified to become as convenient as possible for its owner. The fact that adding compost components is necessary is obvious. But the soil can also be sprinkled. If desired, it is easy to make both the wall of the fence and the central basket higher. Such a garden is most conveniently located not too far from the kitchen: it is easier to replenish compost supplies. The garden can be decorated with flowers planted around the perimeter of the fence.
The advantage of the African method
The idea that originated in Africa was quickly adopted in Texas and praised in other hot regions of the United States. For a dry and hot climate, it is most effective.
Such "keyholes" can be used anywhere, because they have many advantages, which we will list below.
- The resulting structure, given the solid fencing, can be considered warm. If necessary, in early spring it easily turns into a greenhouse. It is enough to build a dome from the film over it.
- Such a bed helps in the disposal of food waste that is simply placed in its central part, providing new plants with the necessary nutrients. For this purpose, peeling and trimming of vegetables and fruits, washing kitchen water, gardening waste are suitable.
- For the construction of the "keyhole" does not need expensive materials. It can be made literally from construction waste or what is usually thrown out as unnecessary.
- The kindergarten does not need to allocate a large plot for its construction. Only 2.5 meters in circumference can be found even in the smallest suburban area or in the yard. But you will have a wonderful garden, an elegant flower bed or an amazing vineyard.
- For what purpose do not use this kindergarten! In the most diverse climatic conditions, it helps to grow herbs, melons and gardens, flowers and grapes.
If your climate is warm, consider yourself lucky. After all, using the "keyhole", you can take two crops in one year. Nutrients and moisture are miraculously held in this garden.
We are building our "keyhole"
Equipping a similar kindergarten on your site is quite simple. Spend quite a bit of time and materials and soon you will be able to appreciate all the advantages of this original building.
You need to clear a small piece of land. Sod can be removed from it with a ploskorez or a shovel. The dimensions of the future design should be determined independently; we propose to use the proportions indicated in the figure. The kindergarten should not be big. You need only 2-2.5 meters of free space - such is the diameter of the circle. With a "keyhole" of small size, caring for plants becomes easier.
We mark the center of the garden and insert a pole into it. We tie a rope to it in order to further use the resulting structure as a compass. Using two sticks attached to the rope at the right distance, draw two circles. The large circle is the place where the external garden fence will be located, the small one determines the location of the compost basket.
The soil should be loosened. In the center of the building, we install a ready-made container for compost or do it yourself. To do this, you can take, for example, strong sticks and stick them into the ground around the circumference at a distance of about 10 cm from each other. It is better to tie them together not with rope, but with wire. So it will be more reliable. So we got the necessary compost basket. Its perimeter is covered with geo-fabric.
On the outer circumference we lay a fence with a brick or stone. Do not forget about the entrance zone, which should provide us with access to the center of the structure. To do this, we will leave a plot with a width of about 60 cm. We fill the basket with prepared compost. The resulting high garden bed is filled in layers as described above.
If this garden will be used for growing weaving plants, do not forget to provide supports for them. It is better to think about how the plants will be located in advance, so that all the inhabitants of this building have plenty of sun, and it would be easy for you to take care of them yourself.
Read more about the capacity for compost
Most often, baskets are made by the already described method of weaving. As a basis, not only wooden but also metal rods are used. Good for the same purpose pipes made of plastic or aluminum stainless profile. The frame can be braided with either branches or wire. It is better if the soil does not penetrate the compost.
As a protective membrane, you can use geo-fabric, which covers the perimeter of the basket. Alternative options are used: canisters with a cut off upper part or barrels made of plastic. So that the necessary nutrients can penetrate into the soil from such a “basket”, holes are made around the perimeter of the barrel or canister.
What material is better to make fences from?
As always, the choice of material from which you can build a fence, depends only on the imagination of the master. Bricks and stones - this is only the most obvious building material from which such fences are made most often. It is possible for this purpose to adapt a frame-type structure of pipes and corrugated board, gabions, boards, bottles, wattle fence, bales of straw.
Plastic, glass bottles and even two rows of chain-link nets look spectacular, the space between which can be filled with a wide variety of scrap. You can use the same cement blocks or build a monolithic concrete fence. Materials, by the way, are successfully combined. The height of the fence also varies.
A video example of the device of such a mini-kindergarten
This type of gardening, as already mentioned, came to us from Africa, and Sendacow became its first popularizer in Russia. Watch the video, which clearly shows all the stages of the construction of the "keyhole" in the homeland of the method.