Over the weekend I finished building the second keyhole garden (KHG), then moved a couple yards of dirt to top off #1 and fill #2. The lawn grew enough in the past two weeks to provide substantial green layers for both (I dug it into the #1 before topping it off and laid a healthy layer in #2).
Stats: 6 feet in diameter, 2 feet deep (including a few inches into the earth), with a good layer of brown compost (accumulated cardboard and other paper-based recycling), shrub trimmings, bark, and leaves; followed by a layer of lawn clippings, quickly covered by dirt. The ratio is about 3:1 (brown:green|carbon:nitrogen). Compost cage in the center, 1 foot in diameter, for long term feeding.
What’s that pink thing in the center of each compost cage (shown in #1)? Why, it’s a pygmy sarlacc, a natural squirrel and cat deterrent. Here’s a closeup:
The tomato cages posted around the borders are my attempt at keeping the dogs off until the vegetables have taken over. It doesn’t take much to deter Sasha–he has one lazy eye and unless he can easily detect a wide opening, he’ll steer clear (otherwise, he’s a natural hill climber). Chloe, if she doesn’t think she can use the elevation to reach the squirrels that race along the fence, will also probably be deterred.
People who don’t garden don’t quite understand why we built these. They aren’t along the fence and they stick up. Two people have asked, So you’re going to plant a garden in these this year? (After I gave them my pat summary description–although I was so tired I might have been speaking word salad.) Aside from being practical, I also think of the KHG as terrain or backyard architecture. Sure, they require less maintenance, water, and backache. But, fundamentally, they’re cool. The dogs think of them as the center of a figure 8 racetrack.
Next up: let the beds cook for a month, till mid-May, then start planting. In the meantime, order Deb Tolman’s KHG DVD–and learn what I haven’t learned yet (in prep for next year–when I’ll also probably add another layer of stones), plan the garden plantings, and shape a dog-friendly mound in the back corner of the yard from all the relocated sod. At some point, plow up the surrounding sod and plant nose and eye-friendly ground cover.