A Star is Born

Remember back in 2012?  I don’t, really.  Thank goodness for blogging.

That was when I first discovered the keyhole garden from a fellow blogger.  It’s only taken two years, but finally, the keyhole garden is in business.  (Thank you, Jocelyn!)  Unfortunately, due to a very full schedule through the end of June, it may get sloppily planted with more expensive seedlings from the nursery rather than sowing seeds.  I’m just too antsy to wait and do the whole thing in nature’s time (seed to fruit).

When something takes two years in the planning, some immediate gratification is in order.

Here’s what one Man-unit (a/k/a/ wheel barrow hauler), a pallet of unused household brick (free, leftover from the remodel), cardboard boxes, $80 worth — 1,000 pounds or so — of moss rock caprock, and one highly motivated dirt girl can build in the course of a couple of mornings.

Keyhole Bones
*gasp* Could that be a…KEYHOLE garden? John calls it the PACMAN garden.

This picture was taken before this past weekend, before filling it with entirely free curb-waste (thanks to my neighbors’ trash habits) — more than 25 bags worth, shown staged in the background — and moving boxes, in a 1:3 ratio of green and brown layers.  Lasagna style; my favorite.  Though the caprock is the only thing that cost me actual money from my pocket, other project “expenses” were minimal:  bit of dignity (hoarding organic waste); locating and building of the 2-foot-high bed wall; two beautiful, sunny mornings outdoors; good, old-fashioned heavy lifting and elbow grease.

And don’t forget the cold beers for the quenching and celebrating.  (I won’t say how many.)

‘Cause, you know what?  I’m really pretty lazy, prefer to do my work at the front end, then leave the more difficult and laborious chore — turning all this organic material into beautiful soil — to the unpaid little guys.  No waiting around either.  This bed is already ready for planting, just as it is.

Once I get to the nursery, all I’ll have left to do is snug the plants into their homes and we’re all good to go.  If the deer show up (and we have reason to think they will), we will simply wrap the “giant pot” with temporary chicken wire to keep their little faces out of our edibles; we’ll supplement them out by the creek instead.  Birds and bugs will be free to come and go as they please as we use no chemicals or synthetic fertilizers.

The keyhole garden is a weed-free, invasive grass-free, self-watering, self-feeding, drought-hardy raised bed on steroids.  Stay tuned to see how she goes.  If this summer continues to be awesome, all indications are that yield will be prolific.

Related Posts:

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Big Year Count:  167 Species

NEW!!  Be sure to check out the Photos page I just created.
DirtNKids will be using SmugMug for future photo posting.

Happy, happy gardening!

23 thoughts on “A Star is Born

  1. Pingback: DirtNKids
  2. So glad to see that you are building it!! I can’t wait to see it filled in and growing things. Of course it just reminds me that I still haven’t done ours. My biggest obstacle is finding the material to use for the outside. I wish we had some bricks just lying around!! I’ve looked in the past on craigslist for free/cheap stuff but wasn’t diligent enough to find anything yet. Oh, and thanks for the shout out!


    1. In your part of the state, it is not uncommon to stack rocks (though mortar may need to be applied). Collect them a few at a time, and after a few months, you should have enough — for free. You should check out some of Dr. Deb’s gardens. I’ve also seen gardens made from metal tubing (as the “skeleton”) and corrugated sheet metal (as the walls). You can practically build it out of anything! The point is to recycle, reclaim, reuse. No need to buy anything.

      You’re so very welcome. The wicking porch containers are next. I think you turned me onto that as well. Cheers, Jocelyn! I see gardening in your future…


      1. Ooh, the metal tubing and sheet metal sound great. I had forgotten about that. Do you think it would make the ground get too hot though? I do think I could find that cheaply at a recycling place here. We also do have a ton of rocks in this area although not in our yard. I’m sure if I asked around I might know someone who has some, and I do like the suggestion of just collecting them over months because I tend to just think of getting things done quickly and I don’t know anywhere that has enough big rocks to get it done all at once.


  3. Congratulations on your “Pacman” garden! 🙂 It looks wonderful, and I can’t wait to see how it fares as you plant it and enjoy the bounty. But how is it self-watering?


    1. Technically, I am still proving supplemental water, only I’ll be doing it with kitchen waste (mostly “green” and that’s mostly water!) and newsprint through a center column that “feeds” the perimeter. A keyhole is like taking the plants to the compost, rather than the other way around. No watering!

      PS – I don’t water vegetables as a general rule because they are all planted in the same lasagna fashion. Soil rich in organic matter — which mine is — stays like a damp sponge, even in drought times. Not too wet, not too dry. Nature knows how to do it!


    1. Please do! I would highly recommend the DVD from Dr. Deb’s website. She gives a very detailed instruction on how to put one together and the “why’s” behind it. Being in central Texas — a/k/a/ drought zone — sorta makes her the expert on the subject!

      http://www.debtolman.com/store.htm <– share away…the world needs it!


  4. A ‘weed-free, invasive grass-free, self-watering, self-feeding, drought-hardy raised bed on steroids’ – what’s not to like?!? :). Can’t wait to see how it turns out,


    1. Well, I DO still have to feed it my kitchen waste, so perhaps I’m lying a bit to call it self-watering and self-feeding (that comes from the organic waste). But HEY! I’m already visiting the compost pile once per day, so it’s no skin off my nose.


  5. Super job on the keyhole garden. Very interesting indeed. Will be anxious to watch it’s progress and have a good look at it when we visit. Like your SmugMug link. I will pick your brain to see how you got that logo.


    1. It should be doing quite well by October, probably even growing the fall season variety (pumpkin!!). I look forward to taxing this very versatile garden and seeing how far I can push her.

      SmugMug is pretty awesome. I will be delighted to show you give you a dashboard tour over the phone. I’m still fiddling with it…but I really like what I see!


    1. Right?! Sheesh, it takes me forever to do anything. Even things I really WANT to get done. Glad you are still around to see the birth of my new baby. 🙂


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