Video: Make a Keyhole Garden

comments (0) September 25th, 2009

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Ruth Ruth Dobsevage, member
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Keyhole Gardens in Lesotho from Send a Cow on Vimeo.

Video Length: 9:06
Produced by: cowforce.com


Here's a raised-bed garden that was designed for an African setting, but can easily be adapted to school or back-yard construction wherever you live. The ones you'll see in this video were built and maintained by primary-school children. Does that give you any ideas for a spring project with the kids or grandkids?

Send a Cow, a UK-based charity, runs sustainable agriculture programs in several African countries, teaching communities and families how to grow food year-round to eat and sell. This video, filmed in Lesotho, shows how to build a keyhole garden (called that because you can see a keyhole shape when the garden is viewed from above). 

The concept is simple. In a sunny area with ready access to waste water, build a waist-high circular raised bed, sized to the arm reach of a child, by stacking up stones with a wedge cutout for easy access. Fill with locally available materials: manure (for nitrates), straw (to trap moisture), rusty cans (to provide iron), wood ash (for potassium), and soil for the plants to grow in, and sticks (to build a central basket for topping off the garden with waste water and compost). When all is ready, sow seeds and water with dishwater, which would otherwise be thrown away.

For more on the Keyhole Garden project, visit Build a Keyhole Garden.

Lesotho, a small African country, is entirely surrounded by South Africa. It is mountainous (the entire country lies 4600 ft. above sea level), very hot in the summer, and very cold in the winter. The annual rainfall is roughly 30 inches per year, with most of the rain falling from October to May. Rains, however, can be heavy, and when they pelt the rocky terrain they erode the soil, making farming difficult. Droughts are common.

posted in: community garden, Gardening with Kids