Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Keyhole Bed

One man's pile of rubble is another man's perma-culture, as they (may) say. Mainly for the fun of it, Dad is trying out a gardening method we were introduced to by new friends Anne and Simon, namely 'Keyhole Beds'. These are basically circular raised beds with a short path coming to the middle from the outside. They are beloved of the 'Perma-Culture eco warriors and of Aid organisations, for example to Africa where they are used in "help them to help themselves" style programmes. "Send-a-Cow" use them widely. ( In the middle of the circular bed you have a basket into which the whole village is encouraged to throw their compostible kitchen waste, peelings etc. The beds, being circular take up little space and the short path minimizes the non-worked area. You can also grow things via the nooks and crannies in the sides, for example trailing tomatoes or strawberries.

You can get to both sides of the bed to weed (inside and outside), the design is very water efficient and the fertility comes from the rotting compost at the centre which leaches its nutrients straight into the soil around. Obviously in Roscommon we are short of neither space nor water but it IS a good way of using up any spare flattish masonry, rubble and concrete blocks. Generally the local stone comes in 'head-shaped' boulders and is a devil to stack anyhow, but I guess if you lived in an area with flat local stone you could use that. Roscommon has none, so we do not have 'dry stone walls' in this county. Our 'stone' walls are actually made from concrete poured into a wooden shuttering sandwich with the rocks which are available tossed in to save on concrete and give strength.

Anne and Simon have found that theirs, though still only in its first full season is brilliant at not becoming waterlogged and warms up very quickly in Spring giving them a very early season start to anything they plant. It is currently carrying a veritable forest of squashes, an unusual long-red-stemmed trailing form of perpetual spinach (a new one on Dad) and salad crops. Dad's 'basket', he made out of the timbers stripped from Sparks's attic as it was being converted, so even more 'reduce, re-use, recycle'

Now it just remains to fill it with soil round the outside, and regular readers will know that we are about to dig a pond, so soil should not be a problem!
We will then probably plant it with something autumnal just to try it out. It is also a nice short walk with the compost bucket being a few yards from the kitchen door. Weeding should be easy as it is all at thigh height. Watch this space to see how we get on. Nice job Dad.


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