2013 - Volume #37, Issue #2, Page #32[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
“Everything is predrilled with self-tapping screws,” says Lyndell Smith, KeyholeFarm.com. “All you need is a screwdriver or power driver. My wife and her elderly mother put one together in about 45 min.”
Keyhole gardens can be built out of any type of material. The shape is what makes them special. They are usually built in a round shape with a notch removed for easy access to the center. A 1-ft. wire mesh cage placed in the center of the bed and at the end of the notch gives the bed the classic keyhole shape. The basket is used for composting kitchen scraps as well as lawn and garden clippings.
“Keyhole gardens aren’t a new idea,” says Smith. “Originally my brother Leon built one out of rock, but he decided there had to be a better way. We came up with our kits. They are competitive in price with cinder blocks, but lightweight and easy to handle.”
The Smiths designed the kits to use with a minimal amount of native soil. They have used as much as 180 phone books, 18 2-ft. stacks of newspapers and half a dumpster of cardboard to fill a bed. The prepared bed is then topped off with about 2 1/2 cu. ft. of soil to root the plants.
“When we first build one, the entire bed is a hot compost site,” says Smith. “We layer cardboard, newspaper, even blue jeans, with lawn clippings, livestock manure and other nitrogen rich materials at the standard three parts brown to one part green for compost.”
Smith says the beds quickly reach 150°, and the fungi and bacteria eat away at the material. Compostable material added to the basket continues to break down and feed plants in the bed.
"Meanwhile, we plant close to create a thick canopy that helps hold in moisture while producing food," says Smith. "Even a single garden can produce a large quantity of food. We've planted as many as 70 tomato plants in one keyhole garden bed."
KeyholeFarm.com sells its kits turnkey for $189 plus shipping. Components are also available for those who want to fabricate or locally source other parts. The metal frame is priced at $65. Panels are priced at $130. Interior mesh cages are priced at $15.
To learn more about keyhole gardens, visit www.farmshow.com to see a video from KeyholeFarm.com.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, River Bend Landscaping, 200 Mambrino Hwy., Granbury, Texas 76048 (ph 817 579-9400 or 817 219-7020; email@example.com; www.keyholefarm.com).
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