Keyhole Gardens

As in other years DOGA is taking a stall at Gateshead Summer Flower Show to promote organic gardening. This year our gardening display will be a keyhole garden. These gardens were developed to assist families in Africa (which may consist entirely of children) to produce food to live on. The method of concentrating compost, manure and water in a small area works very well in Britain too, enabling produce to be easily fed and watered during a drought and raising crops above the general ground level which could be flooded during periods of heavy rain.

The rich soil of a keyhole garden needs to be constrained within a wall or fence. Hence, we will be constructing a circular wooden fence which has a small gap for access (the keyhole) to a simple 'basket' in the middle. We plan to make the 'basket' with wooden posts and string or wire. To make a keyhole garden the best soil, enriched with as much compost and manure as are available, is built up inside the retaining wall and rises as a mound to the central point - ie the 'basket'. Waste plant material is placed in the central basket and is watered with rain and/or grey water. Thus the garden is both watered and fed from the central moist composting material outwards towards the retaining wall/fence.

The idea for this garden came from the charity Send-a-Cow and we are indebted to them for advice and information leaflets.

Follow this link to watch a video produced by the charity Send-a-Cow about their work developing keyhole gardening in Uganda. Educational resources about african gardens can be found on the Send a Cow website.