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How to create your own keyhole garden

By Practical Action On 19.03.2024 EnvironmentFarmingFood & agricultureBlog

Grow at home

Keyhole gardens are an easy and sustainable way to grow vegetables all year. Many of the smallholder farmers we work with around the world use them because they are reliable, cost-effective and simple to build with common materials.

Keyhole gardens keep moisture, provide nutrients to plants, and work in all climates. In Zimbabwe, where water can be scarce, these gardens are especially useful because they retain moisture so well. They also fit in a six-foot space.

These gardens are also great for areas with unpredictable weather, like the UK! Try our simple guide to build your own keyhole garden at home. It will help you grow your own nutritious veggies and make your garden more sustainable.

Follow our guide below to get started!

“Through growing crops on keyhole gardens I am guaranteed of eating a healthy meal everyday together with my family.”
Tafadzwa Chindawandi, smallholder farmer in Makoni

Create your keyhole garden:

1. Plot the area for the garden’s bed – 3 feet all round from your centre point

2. Construct side walls from bricks, logs and stones

3. Build composting basket – wire, bamboo stakes or hard-wearing cloth work well

4. Secure the basket, making sure it keeps shape

5. Fill the basket, using about 18 inches of good quality soil. The soil should be conical in shape, surrounding the basket in the middle.

6.Cover the soil in a thick layer of compost. This will create a moisture reservoir that will capture the water and nutrients your plants need to thrive.

7. Add plants to your new keyhole garden – and remember to water!


See the solution in action!

Esther and John are just two of our supporters who have created their own keyhole gardens. Have a look at their amazing handiwork below – we hope you feel inspired to create a keyhole garden yourself.

“Following your suggestion that we try to create our own keyhole gardens, here is my version – planted in South-East England. This is the keyhole garden’s first year, with rocket, bush beans and spring onions all growing brilliantly. I like it so much, I might build another one!” – Esther

Esther’s keyhole garden

John’s keyhole garden