When I volunteered at Transfarm #1 in North Austin, I was assigned to cleanup the keyhole garden. I had no idea of the construction methodology or thought behind the design, so I was curious. The name explained the shape of the garden, but not the construction. I wondered why there was exposed cardboard and a compost pile in the middle. Everything was overgrown and the topsoil needed replenishing. So we pulled the weeds, drastically trimmed the bush on the far right, and shovel by shovel, filled in the soil around the plants that were left. All discarded plant material went into the compost pile, to the far left. The garden was now ready for more plantings.
I found a great article with illustrations and instructions in the February 2012 issue of Texas Co-op Power Magazine, entitled Keyhole Gardening: unlocking the secrets of drought-hardy gardens. It mentions that this method of gardening was developed in Africa, in an exceptionally harsh and dry environment. So imagine each one is a self-contained ecosystem, using low-cost and readily available materials, and yet done right, can yield enough to feed a large family year-round. How valuable and life-sustaining is that? Made my level of appreciation and pride at revitalizing this garden go up!
Note: I will create a series of posts, each one explaining in more detail a TransFarming component, and update all the links as I go.