Garden / February 21, 2018 / .
Keyhole gardens are designed to maximize space by eliminating the need for walkways as found in traditional row gardening or with raised beds. The design is also intended to be draught-resistant and deliver nutrients via compost throughout the entire growing season. Keyhole gardens are a raised style bed that take the rough shape of a circle with a keyhole shaped path allowing access to the entire garden. In the center of the circle is a vertical tunnel that houses many layers of compost. As the compost breaks down it delivers nutrients and moisture directly to the bed. Certainly an efficient way to grow, keyhole gardens can be constructed with many different materials as a quick Google search of the term will confirm. If you have space for a circle roughly 8 - 10 feet in diameter you can use whatever appropriate materials that are easily accessible corrugated siding, cedar posts, landscaping rock, bricks or any combination thereof. We have a page dedicated to keyhole gardens for more details.
That is one way to get a large yield from a small space, but not the best. If you are truly short of space, interplant your vegetables with your flowers. There is no rule that says you can not mix the two. It can be a bit harder to harvest, but many vegetables are quite ornamental in their own right. If you do opt for a variety of vegetables in your garden, recommend the compact varieties and also vining crops that can be trained up on supports. Pole beans take up less space than bush beans. Vining cucumbers and squash, as aggressive as they can be, actually take up less area than their bush cousins.
Instead of rows, Jeavons and Bartholomew suggest planting in tightly spaced geometric patterns that will allow the crops to create a living mulch of foliage as they mature. This living mulch performs two of the main tasks that regular old dead mulch does: keeping the soil moist and suppressing weeds. In order to create this effect, however, you need to know how much space to give each plant. Mel Bartholomews brilliantly simple tactic is to set a 1-by-1-foot grid onto a garden space and plant crops into the grid. Large crops such as broccoli, peppers and cabbage require a whole square, whereas small ones such as carrots and radishes can be planted 16 to a square.
The art of edible permascaping involves planting food bearing perennials in areas where ornamentals would traditionally take up space. In fact, many popular ornamentals are edible, so turning your landscape into a food-bearing paradise is easier than it might sounds. When looking at your entire property as possible ground on which to grow food, your potential to increase your yield goes up accordingly. Lawns, for instance, can easily be transformed into garden plots, flowering perenial gardens can often accomodate plants that are both beautiful and edible, even forested areas on your property can produce food and in some cases might already have something wild worth harvesting.