keyhole beds?

Scott Pittman pci at permaculture-inst.org
Mon Jun 19 12:17:21 EDT 2000


At 11:02 AM 6/17/00 -0600, you wrote:
>Mikal wrote:
>
> > Anybody have opinions on keyhole beds?

We had the key holes for a year, and because of wrong sizing did not enjoy 
it very much. I see it often, that people try to save space for the 
walkways, and oversize the beds, which in combination compromises the whole 
idea. Now I have a garden that has free style bed layout according to 
grade, existing perennial vegetation, pollination requirements, aspect, 
irrigation method and aesthetics. (We could not grow corn happily in a key 
hole, but like it grown in a "butterfly" bed - two key holes attached on 
the exterior edge. )

The principle of  "increase edge" is still met, the layout in not super 
imposed, but rather adopted for my needs.

I also raise beds by excavating the top soil from the paths, and then sheet 
mulch and add 2-3' of shredded wood to raise the level of the walkway, as 
we live in desert, and a true raised bed is not a good idea.

I have not done it yet, but I am sure it is possible to make a good 
"increased edge" garden in conditions of flood irrigation, as the water 
also benefits from moving in not-so-straight lines, as it aerates, and 
deposits its silt load more evenly. The walk way then will serve the 
function of water channel as well, and I heard of some amazing gardens, 
that had small bridges and decks so one can walk over the moving water, and 
keep the weed at bay, and the irrigation going.


>Keyholes are a bit like the other whiz-bang garden idea in Pc books: herb
>spirals. On a tour of about 20 Pc sites, I saw 5-10 abandoned or overgrown
>herb spirals for every one I saw in use (I just tore my own out a few days
>ago). Anyone else found this?

Why is that? The only reason my first herb spiral is abandoned, is that we 
moved to a new place. I also have seen this idea adopted to different 
environments, like half spirals attached to a wall, or free shape multiple 
level beds around fixed objects (trees, poles, etc)

I think the problem is that we take some things as directions and the only 
solutions, when they are only examples.  I feel less and less comfortable 
to give our students any plant lists, or examples of lay out of forest 
gardens, or gardens, as I see how some people tend to receive it as the 
prescribed way of doing it, rather then "a possible way".

What is your experience with it?

Arina Pittman





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