Keyhole or African Kitchen Gardens are becoming a more popular gardening technique in America.
At the Howdy Farm, a student ran sustainable farm on the Texas A&M campus, is an example of this gardening technique.
The keyhole garden design implements research based techniques such as raised planting beds, composting and intensive planting.
The design of a keyhole garden comes from the incorporation of a compost basket in the center of a circular raised bed that has a pie-shaped cutout on one side.
The material from the outer wall can be made from any material that will hold this shape. The Compost basket can be made out of wire or other material that will hold compost and allow water or nutrients to flow out of the basket. It usually extends above the side of the bed and is 1 to 1 1/2 feet in diameter.
Compost material can be added to the basket throughout the growing season to provide nutrients for the plants.
Keyhole gardens are ideal for intensive plantings, in which plants are placed closely together to maximize the amount of space that can be grown in an area. By doing this, the plants create a canopy that act as a living mulch and shade the soil. The shading will reduce weeds and conserve water.
Keyhole gardens are great in small spaces and can be an attractive addition to landscapes and produce large quantities of fresh vegetables.
For more information on gardening in the Brazos Valley visit aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu.