By Debbie Roland, Master Gardener
Gardening in West Texas. What a job. How will your plants survive when its 105 degrees, when it hasn’t rained in two months and the wind is blowing 40 miles per hour.
As Master Gardeners we all try different methods. Raised beds, trellising, adding compost, eggshells, and coffee grounds. In the last few years several of us have become fans of the Keyhole Garden. It does not require that you get down on the ground or even bend over. It is a no-dig design in a 6’ in diameter round bed. As the picture shows, an overhead view of this type of raised bed would look like a large keyhole in a circular plot with easy access to the center basket where manure, vegetable scraps, paper and other brown and green matter as well as water are added. Most of the hard work is done by the micro-organisms in the garden which convert the materials to healthy soil.
When constructing your garden, use as many recycled materials as you can. Old tubs, fencing, cinderblocks and rocks all work well. Once you have completed your structure, begin building 6” layers of wood, cardboard, compost, shredded newspaper, dry manure, worms, wood ash, straw and topsoil. Now repeat compost, straw and topsoil until you reach desired height. As you add each layer water it down.
Now you are ready to plant. Put as many of the plants you love to eat as you can in your keyhole. They will trail over the sides and produce throughout the summer and early fall.
Throughout the growing season continue to add water and kitchen scraps to your center basket. If you boil potatoes or other vegetables, eat the veggie and add the leftover water to your center basket. Give it a try. There is more information on the Texas A&M website or westtexasgardening.org. Happy Gardening!