welcome to the organic green doctor blog

i am a family physician who was diagnosed with
early mild cognitive impairment(mci) amnestic type on december 21, 2010
this is a precursor to alzheimers disease
because of this diagnosis i have opted to stop practicing medicine
this blog will be about my journey with this disease
please feel free to follow me along this path
i will continue blogging on organic gardening, green living,
solar power, rainwater collection, and healthy living
i will blog on these plus other things noted to be interesting

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

keyhole square foot garden

whats a keyhole square foot garden

well i made it up
i took the ideas from the keyhole garden and combined it
with the ideas of a square foot garden

what comes out of this is a keyhole square foot garden

mel bartholomew is the god of square foot gardening
i have three of his books
the first is dated from the 1980s and i have his latest update
version of his book square foot gardening

here is his website for the square foot gardening foundation
which promotes square foot gardening nationally and internationally
here is his blog the mel bartholemew blog

the idea is simple
you can garden anywhere
in an apartment in the city in the country in a high rise etc
build a 4 ft square frame and add good dirt
and then add plants
its that simple
he has a mixture he recommends internationally and nationally
but a local source of his soil for the area where i live is the lady bug brand
of square foot garden soil-a mixture of coir fiber and vermiculite
to hold moisture and five different composts

i recently wrote a blog on the keyhole garden method that is
being promoted especially in africa and other areas using
local rocks and materials to build a circular raised garden with a
central composter and with a pie shaped wedge cut out of the
circle so you can walk into the composter and reach the middle
of the garden
it has been a very successful method of gardening in these foreign
here is a reference to an article on keyhole gardening and my blog

so i had the idea of taking the features of both methods and combining
them into a method i call the keyhole square foot garden

here it is

at the habitat for humanity house i am working on my wife and i
donated a garden to the new home owner
we recently met with her and the three of us put in her new garden

heres how we did it

first we located a site that gets at least 6 hours of sunlight
this one gets some late afternoon shade

we scraped off the top layer of soil
since the soil is deep at her site i opted to dig out 6 inches of her
soil then added this 4 foot square frame of left over 2x6 untreated lumber
dont use treated wood
use cedar or rock or concrete blocks or untreated lumber
so we then have a space thats 4 ft x 4 ft x 1 ft deep

i elected to go to my nursery i like here called the natural gardener
they are the ones that makes mels square foot garden mix for this area
it probably takes 3-4 bags to fill a 6 inch deep garden as mel usually

i opted to use their hill country soil instead which is the best garden
soil made as it has several types of compost in it granite sand
all the bacteria and fungi needed for plant growth
just dump it in and plant the stuff

we lined the bottom of the hole with cardboard recycled from the
construction site and cut a hole in the middle for the composter
that was made from left over chicken wire and concrete wire
it was placed in the center of the space and was placed it another
6 inches in the ground
its total height was 4 ft (guess that would make this is a cube foot garden)

the bottom was then lined with 10 sheets of newspapers
just trying to keep out all of those dang weeds and also provide
food for all those worms we want to attract to the garden

next the 4 ft square frame was placed down over the composter
there are 1 ft squares marked off on the frame using wire stretched
across the frame
this makes it easy to plant things in 1 ft squares

then we dumped that good old soil in there and we were ready to plant

in the composter we placed layers of chicken poop compost thanks
to my girls at the country n  of compost from the natural gardener  of
oak leaves  of shredded newspapers and added a bananna peel on
top to top it off
shell add compost material over time from her kitchen from mowing and
from leaves as they fall
all she adds is water to keep it moist

later we will add 2 ft path around the square foot frame using
plastic to block the weeds and addi crushed granite on top of the plastic

we planted these items in her garden-two tomatoes malabar spinach
oregano leeks mulitplying onions swiss chard arugula beans basal
bell pepper banana pepper jalapeno pepper and egg plant
nice garden choices huh
this fall late she will add a winter planting to this area

we then added bird netting over the pvc frame we placed to protect
against varmints
that squirrel sat on her fence and licked his chops
at 48 hours he has not attacked yet

now we have the new invention
the keyhole square foot garden
a self contained garden
just add water and compost material and love

will update pictures as the garden grows

the organicgreen doctor


  1. LOVE IT! What a great idea. I'm guessing the compost in the middle slowly breaks down and makes room at the top for more goodies. I may have to try it in my chicken yard. Thanks!

  2. Looks Amazing dewayne!

    Kevin from the Square Foot Gardening Foundation

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