Permaculture Keyhole Garden Design

Permaculture Keyhole Garden Design

I was all excited to plan out my permaculture keyhole garden design on My Sheet Mulching Project in the garden plot.  When I started doing some research, I realized I had my terms mixed up and what I want to do is not known as keyhole gardening.  As of this moment, I’m not sure what it is called, but I figured I’d write this article and give an overview of what a keyhole design is.  I’ll post later on what I’m doing in my garden after I figure out exactly what it is called.

permaculture keyhole garden design

Permaculture Keyhole Garden Design

The basic premise of a permaculture keyhole garden design is to build a raised bed in a circular shape with a keyhole access path to a center hole.  If you are looking at it from above, it looks like a keyhole or to me it looks like a “packman” figure that swallowed a golf ball.  You then fill the keyhole or center hole with compost.  (See the picture titled “Permaculture Keyhole Garden Design”). The keyhole access path allows you to enter the circular shape and reach the center, so that you are able to access your produce without climbing into the keyhole.  It also allows you to add additional compost as the old compost breaks down.  You plant into the area around the keyhole.

The permaculture keyhole garden design provides a lot of benefits.  It gives you easy access to the plants, conserves space, gives you a tidy way to compost scraps and the compost provides a lot of nutrients to the plants you are growing.

From inspirationgreen.com

From inspirationgreen.com

In researching this article, the guidelines for diameter for the bed itself seems to be around 6 foot.  The compost area would be about one foot if you go with a 6-foot diameter bed.  The keyhole access path could be in a wedge shape or just a straight path.

The walls of the bed can be made out of anything you have laying around.  Scrap lumber, logs, rocks or whatever else you have.  I saw some nice looking ones on line that were made out of stones and I have a good supply of stones at out my farm, so that’s probably what I’m going to use.  See the picture titled “From inspirationgreen.com”.

To make the compost area, you can use wire mesh or wire cloth to make a circle.  The picture below shows galvanized garden fence being used.  That looks like a good possibility to me. I’d probably lose the T-posts as the soil around the fence would be enough to hold the fence in place.  As long as the compost pile doesn’t get too low, it will keep the fence from collapsing.

libertygarden.us

libertygarden.us

Many of the designs show the lower parts of the planting area as a large compost area as well.  This would be a one-time compost area where you just add compost material and then cover with a few inches of soil for planting into.  This will add a lot of nutrients to the planting area initially and will eventually break down and become nutrient rich garden soil.  You will continue improving the soil because you continue to add compost to the center compost area that will keep the garden nutrient dense.  Click on the link for more information on Compost Information.

I’m not sure when, but I will be putting one of these together.  I’ll add it to my long to do list.  When I do build it, I’ll get plenty of videos for you.

Please give us your thoughts on permaculture keyhole garden design by commenting below.

Free Intro to Permaculture Design Course

Free Intro to Permaculture Design Course

The Oregon State University is running a Free Online Intro to Permaculture Design Course that runs from May 2nd to May 31st 2016.

Permaculture Design Course

Permaculture Design Course

An Excerpt taken from their web page states: “In this free, online course, you’ll learn about the process, ethics, and principles of permaculture while diving into climate-specific design elements through interactive technology, videos, graphics, and readings. Permaculture design is a method of landscape planning that can be applied to anything, from a home garden or farm to a city block or entire village. Permaculture uses design principles from nature itself and takes into account such things as how indigenous people used the land. This course is designed to benefit everyone regardless of learning style, time commitments, or available technology. Expect to spend between two to four hours each week on coursework.”

The course is taught by Andrew Millison of Oregon State University.  Andrew has been PDC certified for twenty years and has been teaching the Permaculture Design Course for fifteen years.

Although I already have a PDC and I’m almost done with another, I like courses like this because it gives you additional tools in your toolbox.  Every teacher has a different style and conveys different thoughts and information based on their life experiences.  With every additional course I take, I always learn something new.  And why not give this course a try, after all, it’s free!

I signed up for the course a week ago and it was fairly painless.  You go to the link below, click enroll, enter your name and email address and then click on a link they send you to set up your profile.

You can sign up for the Free Online Intro to Permaculture Design Course at:

www.canvas.net/browse/oregonstate/courses/permaculture-design

For more information on what permaculture is all about you can check out an article we did a few months back called So What is This Permaculture Stuff.

Tell us what you think about Free Online Intro to Permaculture Design Course by commenting below.

Epi037 – My Sheet Mulching Project on the Farm, Square Foot Gardening and Drip Irrigation, Hardening off plants

Epi037 – My Sheet Mulching Project on the Farm, Square Foot Gardening and Drip Irrigation, Hardening off plants

This week: Epi037 – My Sheet Mulching Project on the Farm, Square Foot Gardening and Drip Irrigation, and Hardening off plants.

Epi037 – My Sheet Mulching Project on the Farm, Square Foot Gardening and Drip Irrigation, Hardening off plants

Epi037 – My Sheet Mulching Project on the Farm, Square Foot Gardening and Drip Irrigation, Hardening off plants

Great Escape Podcast is an audio version of the blog posts from Great Escape Farms, Specializing in Unique Edible Plants, Permaculture Gardens, and Homesteading. The blog posts can be viewed at GreatEscapeFarms.com.

If you would like to subscribe to this podcast on iTunes, you can do so by clicking on Great Escape Podcast.

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Square Foot Gardening

Tell us what you think about Epi037 – My Sheet Mulching Project on the Farm, Square Foot Gardening and Drip Irrigation, Hardening off plants by commenting below.

Hardening Off Plants

Hardening Off Plants

Hardening off plants is needed for plants that are started indoors that need to be moved to the outdoor garden.  Inside your house the plants have been in a protected environment.  Outdoors they will deal with hot days, cold nights, high and low humidity, wind, and the burning rays of direct sunlight.  In order to deal with the harshness of the outdoors, they need a period of time to get use to the changes.  This process is referred to as hardening off plants.

Hardening Off Plants

Hardening Off Plants

Note that plants that you purchase from a nursery have usually already been hardened off by growing in a cold frame and you do not need to worry about this process.  Hardening off plants is only for plants started indoors as described in How to Start Seeds Indoors

Some recommendations are for a seven to ten day hardening off period.  I have done mine in as little as four days without too many problems.  The overall process is to gradually introduce the plants to the changes and increase the time each day so the plants won’t get shock from the changes.

You want to plan your hardening off date based on the last frost date for your area.  If you don’t know your last frost date you can find it here: farmersalmanac.com/average-frost-dates/

How to Do It

The process is as follows; take the plants outside for two to three hours on the first day and put them in an area that is somewhat protected from strong winds and direct sunlight.  I use my screened in porch.  It does allow most wind to come through but it filters the afternoon sunlight.  After the time period stated above, take them back inside and put them under the grow lights.

The next day take the plants out for about four hours and give them more direct sunlight.  I put mine out on a patio where they get almost direct sunlight.  I put them out in early morning and get them back inside before lunch so the sun isn’t quite as brutal on them.

The next day they go out for six hours a little later in the day so they get a little stronger sun.  Keep an eye on them with regards to water.  You want them to almost dry out, but not so much so that they will wilt.

The next day I put them out for the entire day.  Again, keep an eye on the water situation.  I bring them in for the final night, give them a good watering and the next day they go out for good.

Variations

There are many variations to the hardening off process.  I found one site that said to put the plants out for a week.  They go out for one hour the first day and then add an hour each day.  By the end of the week they had seven days out.

Tell us what you think of Hardening Off Plants by commenting below.

Square Foot Gardening and Drip Irrigation

Square Foot Gardening and Drip Irrigation

The Square Foot Gardening and Drip Irrigation post gives an overview on how I set up my square foot gardening beds and the mist irrigation system that keeps them watered.

Square Foot Gardening and Drip Irrigation

Square Foot Gardening and Drip Irrigation

There are not many pictures in this post as I have included a video below that gives you a tour of my square foot gardening area and drip irrigation system.

Drip Irrigation

The picture shown shows a brown irrigation hose run up and down the garden bed.  It will drip at 12″ intervals which is perfect for a square foot garden bed.

The bed in the picture looks a little messy and that is because I just added some hairy vetch cuttings from another bed.  Hairy vetch is a nitrogen fixer and the tops that I added to this bed will help add nitrogen to the bed.

The drip irrigation system that I bought came from Lowes.  I bought a kit called “Mister Landscaper Drip Irrigation Vegetable Garden Kit”.  The components of this kit includes all outdoor faucet attachments to hook up and run 50-ft of 1/2-in poly tubing to vegetable garden area and includes all the components to attach and run from 1/2-in poly maximum runs of 33-ft of the 1/4-inch in-line drip tubing down a row of vegetables. The system also has 1/2 GPH drippers that are molded into the 1/4-in tubing and drip every 12-inches.  To help control flow there are five  1/4-inch on/off valves can be used to turn on and off water supply to the 1/4-in in-line drip tubing.

The kit is a great start for all of the necessary parts, but I did purchase some additional items to go with the kit.  I bought additional 0n/0ff valves and another 100-foot section of the 1/4-inch drip line.  I also bought a timer to automate the time that the irrigation system runs.  I bought the timer from Lowes also.

I have been using the system for 3 years now and it works great.  I drain it and pack it up in the fall and then lay it back out in the spring before my summer vegetables go out.

Square Foot Garden

Square Foot Garden from 2014

Square Foot Garden from 2014

My square foot gardening beds are based off of Mel Bartholomew’s book on square foot gardening.  I did a book review on his book a while back and that review can be found at: Square Foot Gardening Book Review.

I name my beds based on location.  They are called front right, center right, back right, front left and back left.  Each bed has rows A, B, C, and D and they have columns 1 through 16.  I then have a sheet of paper that I use as a key to let me know what each plant is and where it is located.

Square Foot Gardening and Drip Irrigation

Square Foot Garden

One of last years bed keys is shown in the picture.  It is not anything formal or pretty, just something so I can keep track of what is where.  In the picture you will notice that there are some additional numbers.  For example, Miner’s Lettuce has a 9-4 in the block with it.  This number represents the seed starter tray that it came out of.  If you’re interested in that numbering scheme, you can check out my article on How to Start Seeds Indoors.

The YouTube video below shows the drip irrigation system as well as the square foot garden beds in my back yard.

 

 

Please tell us what you think about Square Foot Gardening and Drip Irrigation by commenting below.

My Sheet Mulching Project on the Farm

My Sheet Mulching Project on the Farm

This post, My Sheet Mulching Project on the Farm, is about a sheet mulching project I did in the month of April 2016 in my garden area at the farm.  I worked on the project over the course of three weeks, just on weekends, and completed about ¾ of the project.  I couldn’t complete the last ¼ because I ran out of a critical supply.

My Sheet Mulching Project

My Sheet Mulching Project

There is a YouTube video below that shows the stages of the project as I went along.  I also have pictures throughout this post.  I tried to follow the steps outlined in the post titled Sheet mulching or lasagna gardening, and I tried to keep the costs as low as possible by following the advice in the post titled Sheet mulching on the cheap.

The first weekend I acquired material to include horse manure, gypsum, bags of leaves, and some cardboard boxes.  The first thing we did was to dig up large clumps of grass and weeds and cut down other weeds while leveling the area.  After the area was leveled we watered the ground and then put composted horse manure down.

The second weekend we acquired more material to include more horse manure, more cardboard and 4’x4’ rolls of hay.  It was rather time consuming to get all of the tape off of the cardboard, so we did end up running out of time.  We managed to wet the cardboard and get half of the garden area covered with cardboard.  We then put manure on top of the cardboard and then a 4” layer of hay on top of that.

Sheet Mulch Steps

Sheet Mulch Progress

On the third weekend we acquired more material to include more horse manure, more hay, and mulch.  We tried to get some more cardboard, but was unable to find any.  We were able to completed ¼ more of the garden area with cardboard before we ran out.  Due to weed population, we are unable to find a workaround and will just have to move on and complete the last ¼ of the garden area when we have all of the supplies that we need.

We did manage to completely finish ¾ of the garden area.  We previously had 4” of hay on top of the cardboard.  We added some leaves that we had and then another layer of manure followed by another 4” of hay and then 2 to 6” of mulch on top of everything to weight it all down and keep it moist.  I did mess the directions up a little by putting manure on top of the leaves and then more hay.  We should have put the hay directly on top of the leaves and then put the manure on top of the hay followed by the mulch.  I don’t think it will matter that much though.

Please use this post and the other two posts to try one of these yourself.  I will post updates on the progress of this garden area later this summer.

Here is the YouTube video of the project as it progressed:

Tell us what you think about My Sheet Mulching Project on the Farm by commenting below.

Epi036 – Permaculture 101 Part 3 of 3 – More Permaculture Methods of Design

Epi036 – Permaculture 101 Part 3 of 3 – More Permaculture Methods of Design

This Week: Epi036 – Permaculture 101 Part 3 of 3 – More Permaculture Methods of Design.

Epi036 – Permaculture 101 Part 3 of 3 – More Permaculture Methods of Design

Epi036 – Permaculture 101 Part 3 of 3 – More Permaculture Methods of Design

Great Escape Podcast is an audio version of the blog posts from Great Escape Farms, Specializing in Unique Edible Plants, Permaculture Gardens, and Homesteading. The blog posts can be viewed at GreatEscapeFarms.com.  This episode is part 3 of a 3 part series on permaculture.  Last week I did a presentation on Introduction to permaculture for the Berkley Spring, WV Seventh Day Adventist church and I recorded that presentation.  I have broken that presentation into 3 half hour sessions that I will be playing over a three-day period for you.

Part 3 of the series delves a little deeper into some of the methods of design used in permaculture with regard to agriculture.  Part 1, which is podcast episode 34, is an introduction of myself and some of the issues in current agriculture and why it is not sustainable.  Part 2, which is podcast episode 35, is an overview of permaculture as a design science and gives you some aspects of methods of design.

During this segment of the presentation I state that autumn olive fruit ripens in June and you can cut it back after it fruits.  It actually ripens in early fall and actually tastes better after a frost.  I was thinking of Goumi, which does ripen earlier in the season.

Because this was recorded in a large group environment, there is a good bit of background noise.  I apologize for that in advance.

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Permaculture 101

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Epi035 – Permaculture 101 Part 2 of 3 – Introduction to Permaculture

Epi035 – Permaculture 101 Part 2 of 3 – Introduction to Permaculture

This Week: Epi035 – Permaculture 101 Part 2 of 3 – Introduction to Permaculture.

Epi035 – Permaculture 101 Part 2 of 3 – Introduction to Permaculture

Epi035 – Permaculture 101 Part 2 of 3 – Introduction to Permaculture

Great Escape Podcast is an audio version of the blog posts from Great Escape Farms, Specializing in Unique Edible Plants, Permaculture Gardens, and Homesteading. The blog posts can be viewed at GreatEscapeFarms.com.  This episode is part 2 of a 3 part series on permaculture.  Last week I did a presentation on Introduction to permaculture for the Berkley Spring, WV Seventh Day Adventist church and I recorded that presentation.  I have broken that presentation into 3 half hour sessions that I will be playing over a three-day period for you.

Part 2 of the series is an introduction to permaculture as a design science and some of the methods of design used with regard to agriculture.  Part 1, which is podcast episode 34, is an introduction of myself and some of the issues in current agriculture and why it is not sustainable.  Part 3, which is podcast episode 36, is an overview of various design methods used in permaculture.

If you would like to subscribe to this podcast on iTunes, you can do so by clicking on Great Escape Podcast.

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Permaculture 101

Please give us your thoughts on Epi035 – Permaculture 101 Part 2 of 3 – Introduction to Permaculture  by commenting below.

 

Epi034 – Permaculture 101 Part 1 of 3 – The Problem with Modern Agriculture

Epi034 – Permaculture 101 Part 1 of 3 – The Problem with Modern Agriculture

This Week: Epi034 – Permaculture 101 Part 1 of 3 – The Problem with Modern Agriculture.

Permaculture 101 Part 1 of 3

Permaculture 101 Part 1 of 3

Great Escape Podcast is an audio version of the blog posts from Great Escape Farms, Specializing in Unique Edible Plants, Permaculture Gardens, and Homesteading. The blog posts can be viewed at GreatEscapeFarms.com.  This episode is part 1 of a 3 part series on permaculture.  Last week I did a presentation on Introduction to permaculture for the Berkley Spring, WV Seventh Day Adventist church and I recorded that presentation.  I have broken that presentation into 3 half hour sessions that I will be playing over the next three days for you.

Part 1 of the series is an introduction of myself and an explanation of what the problems are with modern agriculture.  Part 2, which is podcast episode 35, is an introduction of permaculture and how it can be applied to agriculture.  Part 3, which is podcast episode 36, is an overview of various design methods used in permaculture.

If you would like to subscribe to this podcast on iTunes, you can do so by clicking on Great Escape Podcast.

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Permaculture 101

Please give us your thoughts on Epi034 – Permaculture 101 Part 1 of 3 – The Problem with Modern Agriculture by commenting below.

Epi033 Deer Proof Plant Propagation Beds, Sheet Mulching on the cheap

Epi033 Deer Proof Plant Propagation Beds, Sheet Mulching on the cheap

This week: Epi033 Deer Proof Plant Propagation Beds and Sheet Mulching on the cheap.

Epi033 Deer Proof Plant Propagation Beds, Sheet Mulching on the cheap

Epi033 Deer Proof Plant Propagation Beds, Sheet Mulching on the cheap

Great Escape Podcast is an audio version of the blog posts from Great Escape Farms, Specializing in Unique Edible Plants, Permaculture Gardens, and Homesteading. The blog posts can be viewed at GreatEscapeFarms.com.

If you would like to subscribe to this podcast on iTunes, you can do so by clicking on Great Escape Podcast.

Click on the icon below for other RSS feed options.