Has anyone used "keyhole" beds?

I was going through an old copy of one of Mollison's Permaculture books and he mentions keyhole beds. Has anyone here tried them and would like to share their experiences, pros and cons, etc.?
Thanks! Mike D.
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On Tue, 2 Sep 2003 10:55:26 -0400, "Mike Davis"

I haven't used them, although I have seen them recommended in other places.
I can't quite see the point though, unless you want your garden to surround an area of lawn and be decorative. I can see them being decorative, especially if flowers are interspersed with the veggies.
Does he give any reasons for their use (other than purely decorative)?
Pat
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Hi Pat,
Two of Mollison's reasons for suggesting them that come to mind include: 1. Much smaller surface area used for paths than a traditional row garden.
2. Easier and less wasteful to water with circular pattern sprinkler.
I don't recall him mentioning aesthetics, but that could be a definite "selling point" for some folks.
Mike D.
wrote:

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This sounds good but I am yet to see any justification for it in Mollison's books or elsewhere. Many of his ideas on geometry are fine bt some like this one seem to have no proof. If I have missed this somewhere please advise where to look.

Which may be so but if you want efficient watering you don't use sprinklers but soakers or droppers instead.

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David,
1. After re-reading the Permaculture Design Manual, Mollison made the "less wasted space" claim from comparisons of a traditional rectangular bed garden vs. the keyhole (or a group of keyholes fitted into a mandala) based solely on the geometry of the two.
2. I use mostly soaker hoses buried under a layer of mulch in my gardens, so the ease of using a sprinkler is a non-issue for me.
It's just that it seems that maintaining such beds looks like a lot of extra work to go through for questionable productivity boost. I'm inclined to favor a boring old rectangular double-dug raised bed and was trying to see if someone actually had done the keyhole beds and what, if any, experiences they'd had.
It appears that no one posting here in the last few days has actually used them...
M. Davis

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wrote:

Do you have any justification for this, in particular that keyhole beds have less path area than rows? I am not trying to start an argument - I want to know. It does not seem to me that Mollison proves this point at all.
David
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On Wed, 03 Sep 2003 23:55:04 GMT, "David Hare-Scott"

No, I have no justification for it, other than the obvious fact that I can visually *see* that intensive planting in beds (of almost any shape) has less path area than row planting (which is mostly path).
The space between the rows is eliminated when you plant in beds.
Mel Bartholomew goes into some detail to explain this in "Square Foot Gardening", IIRC.
I'm sure you can Google to find lots of references for this if you want to, but I'm not searching for references for something that I can clearly see for myself.
Pat
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Not suitable for 'systematic weeding'
Not good with grassed paths (you have twice as much path boundary to maintain)
They are, easily accessable. Good for an informal setting. Can make a useful break between envronments (eg you can have different areas of the garden 'keyholing' into each other. This is where one of the big principles of Permaculture comes into play as the keyhole shape increases the perimeter of that 'boundary' line between the 2 areas.
// Jim
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g'day mike,
we did a sheet mulch one as a projest when i attanded a pc course at a local tafe. they would have application in a confined or limited area, for me i stick to the straight raised beds system, a bit less work in setting up and the same results if you have the space.
len
snipped
--
happy gardening
'it works for me it could work for you,'
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No but Thank you for reminding me to. I'll soon be building a bed for potatoes & will try to remember !!!!
thanks why don't you do it & take "Before & after " pictures, & tell us what works & what might not?? would love to hear
thanks, jfrost

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Heh, heh, heh...
Oh well, this lazy gardener was hoping to learn from someone else's sore back and calluses...
It appears that it may not work this time, I'll just have to make the mistakes myself. But, as jfrost has suggested, before and after pics are definitely in order...
I'll make a run to the store for Ben-gay ointment and aspirin when I pick up the film before starting to dig. ;-)

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Mike Davis wrote:

What, pray tell, is a keyhole bed?
--

Squire


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Mike Davis wrote:

What, pray tell, is a keyhole bed?
--

Squire


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Take a look here: http://www.permacult.com.au/noosa/keyhole_garden.html
It provides a very high-level overview.
M.D.

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wrote:

Very high-level, indeed. The expanded view of the 'diagram' shows circular shapes and blobs that could be trees, bushes, paths, plants -- who knows?
I note " Circular shape gives maximum internal area for least circumference." Say, what?
" Discourages straight row planting=reduction in pests." I guess I'm not keeping up with research. Had no idea that planting in rows attracted more pests than planting in circles or spirals or animal shapes.
" Increases edge effect. A natural accumulation point for mulch & nutrients." Another new fact(oid).
I can certainly see how it could be *pretty*. If one has a circular space to grow in, there's no reason things couldn't be arranged to fit the area with a radial rather than parallel layout. Maybe *that's* the (unstated) basis of the plan -- if one has a confined area rather than a big rectangular plot in the middle of a field, a circular/radial layout may be a good idea. And many may not have considered the possibility. A circular arrangement in a square space, however, will exclude approx. 22% of the area available.
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Yes, I guess I've been doing that for years w/o even knowing it -- works just great.

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That's interesting, how did you end up going with that shape bed, rather than the more traditional one?
What do you grow in them, perennials or annuals, or a mix?
Mike D.

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bed. We have veryt clay soil here so I rotoilled the sand under with some leaves. The shape derives from it being a Italianate/knot herb garden which gradually eveolved into a veggy/herb/flower garden. Veggys and some herbs are annuals, flowers and some herbs are perrenial. I very lazy and don't like weeding - thus I keep a heavy straw/pine needle mulch on the whole thing, digging it under each spring. Works great.
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Thanks, Seamus!

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