Blanco County News
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Highland Lake Gardeners Learn About “Keyhole Gardening”
Wednesday, July 11, 2012 • Posted July 13, 2012

Highland Lakes gardeners learned all about Keyhole Gardening from Dr. Deb Tolman on her recent visit to the Marble Falls Helping Center Garden. Dr. Deb shared her thoughts on growing cycles with Master Gardeners. She said we have two optimal vegetable growing seasons, January through June, and July through December. To overcome the challenging Hill Country climate, she recommends building a Keyhole Garden. As part of her presentation to the community, she led the Master Gardeners as they built a Keyhole Garden at the Helping Center. If you drove by during the presentation, you might have wondered what people were doing jumping in a circle of rocks. Actually, after the rocks were stacked and mortared, a wire mesh cylinder was placed in the middle. It will be used for table scraps to provide nutrients in the garden. Then, wet cardboard, newspaper, green clippings, manure, phone books, and even old jeans were layered and “packed down with feet energy” to create the planting surface. Dr. Deb shared that one keyhole garden was planted with 70 tomato plants. She planted another with 6 fruit trees, all being fed by this unique garden system. Our Helping Center Garden has 20 squash plants and 1 pepper plant growing now!

To construct a keyhole garden, start with a 6-foot diameter circle which defines the outside perimeter of the 3 foot deep gardening structure. The center of the garden includes a 1-foot in diameter mesh basket that’s used for continual composting. They key to the ease of using the structure is the notch, shaped like a piece of pie, which allows access to the compost basket. The birds-eye view of the structure resembles a keyhole. For detailed info about Dr. Deb’s Keyhole Gardening concept, go to You can also go to her website at

The Helping Center Garden is always looking for community volunteers to assist with watering and maintaining the garden, located at 1315 Broadway St (at N St.), one block south of the HEB. It’s a great way to learn more about best gardening practices. Contact Pete at for more information. And be sure to drive by and see the keyhole garden- and what’s growing in that pile of nature’s and recycled leftovers!

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