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The Basics of Keyhole Gardening: Unlock Your Garden’s Potential

Posted February 16, 2022

We often talk about the benefits of adding compost to your garden, but what if you could streamline this process to make it more efficient? Wouldn’t it be great to utilize a system that combines the power of composting with the benefits of raised-bed gardening? Keyhole gardening makes this all possible.

What Is Keyhole Gardening? keyhole garden image

Keyhole gardening is a simple concept but can yield powerful results. It involves setting up a compost bin in a carved-out area near the center of a raised garden bed to allow nutrient-dense compost to infiltrate the soil. When you look at the system from above, it resembles a keyhole—hence the name.

Keyhole gardening creates an ideal growing environment for fruits and vegetables in areas with less-than-ideal soil. A raised garden bed allows you to control the growing environment, and incorporating compost gives your soil a boost of essential nutrients to promote healthy plant growth.

Tips for a Successful Keyhole Garden

  1. Set up your keyhole garden in a way that allows easy access to the compost bin. Do this by creating the “keyhole” area for the compost bin. That way, you can add kitchen scraps, yard waste, and other compostable material without actually stepping foot into the garden bed, which prevents unwanted soil compaction.
  2. Consider the size of your garden bed to make sure the compost will be well-distributed. If the garden bed is too large, you may need to manually add some of finished compost in some areas. For successful keyhole gardening, we recommend a bed with a diameter of six feet or less. 
  3. Slope the soil down from the compost bin to help nutrients flow throughout the garden bed.
  4. Choose a location with level ground. 

the keyhole garden kit makes it easy to get started

Set your keyhole garden up for success with the easy-to-use GEOBIN Composter and Raised Garden Bed. These systems are designed to work together to create a keyhole garden in any backyard. For this reason, we offer a Keyhole Garden kit that includes everything you need to get started. 

keyhole garden

The GEOBIN Composter’s size and perforations make it the perfect compost bin for keyhole gardening. The GEOBIN Composter can be easily connected to the Raised Garden Bed using the included Connection Keys. Start by planning out the size and shape you would like for your Raised Garden Bed, then secure it to the GEOBIN Composter to create the ideal growing environment for your garden.

The flexible Raised Garden Bed strips allow you to create the space to strategically place your GEOBIN Composter near the center of your garden, or at any location within the garden footprint to allow for manually adding and blending in of compost as needed. Using the included garden stakes, you can secure the Raised Garden Bed into place and attach the GEOBIN Composter, making it easily accessible. This one-stop keyhole gardening solution does not require any costly lumber or special tools to install.

Set Up Your Keyhole Garden in Five Simple Steps:

Step 1: Determine Your Garden’s Footprint

Select an area with level ground that gets plenty of sunlight and moisture.

Step 2: Set Up Your Keyhole Garden by Assembling the GEOBIN Composter and Raised Garden Bed

Unroll the GEOBIN Composter and connect the overlapping material using the connection keys. Next, unroll the Raised Garden Bed strips and connect the ends using the connection keys.

Step 3: Connect the Raised Garden Bed & GEOBIN Composter

Connect the Raised Garden Bed and GEOBIN Composter using one of the connection keys. The GEOBIN Composter will be slightly higher than the level ground to allow the organic material to permeate the soil. Next, position the GEOBIN Composter toward the center of the Raised Garden Bed to create a “keyhole” shape to access the composter. 

Use stakes (included) to secure the Raised Garden Bed to the ground and maintain its shape. Start by measuring approximately 34 inches from the GEOBIN Composter to to the opposite edge of the Raised Garden Bed. Secure your first stake there, then continue staking along the perimeter of the Raised Garden Bed.

Step 4: Prepare the Base of the Keyhole Garden & Add Soil/Compost Mixture

Place a thick layer of non-glossy newspaper along the bottom of the Raised Garden Bed to kill the grass and prevent weeds. Then add your preferred soil mixture to the Raised Garden Bed. We recommend 3 parts topsoil, 2 parts compost, and 1 part potting soil.

Soil levels surrounding the GEOBIN Composter should be approximately 2 inches higher than around the outside wall of the Raised Garden Bed (the soil should gently slope downward).

Step 5: Fill Your GEOBIN® Composter & Plant Your Garden

Add layers of organic material, alternating between carbon-rich and nitrogen-rich materials. Plant your favorite fruits, vegetables, or flowers and maintain your garden and compost pile as you normally would.