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A Keyhole Garden for Households in Africa

Photo from ‘Cowfiles African Gardens’.

From: ‘Ideas that will catch on here.’
July 12, 2008, BBC

“Another fantastic idea I picked up – which could make its way onto my allotment before long – is the keyhole veg bed. This is a raised bed with bells on: it’s about 1m (3’6”) high, and the outer bed, where the vegetables are growing, slopes down from a central hollow column. There’s an access path to the column (giving the bed a “keyhole” shape viewed from above) and inside it is what amounts to a compost bin, held in with hessian: you fill it with kitchen waste, stable manure, grass clippings – whatever you’d put on your compost heap.

Then tip on water saved from your washing up, and that’s it. “The idea is that the water will drain through and take all the nutrients with it,” explains Kirstine. “It’s feeding from below the topsoil, so rather than watering on the surface and all the water evaporating, everything’s coming up from underneath.” In Africa, this garden will feed a family of six through the three-month dry period, when crops in the fields simply dry out.”

Keyhole Gardens at Send a Cow.

Below, a video titled: Lesotho – Make a Keyhole Garden

“A great little video made in Lesotho, showing how a group of schoolchildren made a keyhole garden. The charity Send a Cow showed them how to make it and the children can now make their own at home and have more food.”


1 earthtopam { 08.09.08 at 6:32 am }

this is brilliant!- it answers so many needs at once and I will definitely be trying it out here in Namibia-water shortage and poor soil make this very useful and allow me to recycle easily.

2 Nikki { 04.09.12 at 10:49 am }

I so want to try this. It makes sense in so many ways. Think I’m going to try the Keyhole gardening method this season, along with an area of straw bale planting to make a comparison.

3 Dave { 08.17.12 at 5:14 pm }

We’re doing this keyhole gardening at YWAM in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii