Earlier this year, shortly after I returned from Europe, we built something called an African Keyhole which was to become the new addition to our kitchen garden. Imagine a raised inner circle engulfed by a lower raised outer larger circle to which we added another with an opening to access the inner compost circle (best to look at the picture & it’ll all make sense). The inner circle is meant for composting as a source of nutrients for the outer part where we would plant veggies, herbs, and spices. Due to our lack of space in the kitchen garden area, ours turned out to be half of an African Keyhole.

(top left) the African Keyhole dugout outline; (bottom left) bamboo & removed grass; (top middle) Ígor drying bamboo sticks; (top right) Ígor & Guilherme hammering the bamboo into place; (bottom middle) already started filling in the earth humus mixture; (bottom right) almost finished

(top left) the African Keyhole dugout outline; (bottom left) bamboo & removed grass; (top middle) Ígor drying bamboo sticks; (top right) Ígor & Guilherme hammering the bamboo into place; (bottom middle) already started filling in the earth humus mixture; (bottom right) almost finished

Primarily this project was the brainchild of Ígor, who technically stayed with us as a WWOOFer, but in every other way he was and is a part of our tribal family. It didn’t take too much planning until we had decided on the shape and the logistics of making it. Some of us went to get bamboo and others prepared the garden space by removing the grass and digging.

We cut three varying lengths of bamboo sticks for each of the three parts. Fresh bamboo like that without being treated would start sprouting and we would end up with a bamboo forest. There are various ways of inhibiting the sprouting and the fastest way is to dry them with fire. Which, compared to the ease of sawing through the bamboo, turned out to be a lot of work. After that we hammered them into place, tied them together at the top with a wire, and then filled up the inner half circle with compost and the others with earth and humus.

(top left) Monica is adding compost; (bottom left) looking into the compost pile; (bottom middle) happiness dance by Ígor; (top middle) I landed in the compost pile; (top right) Antonio is planting & watering; (bottom right) our thriving carrots

(top left) Monica is adding compost; (bottom left) looking into the compost pile; (bottom middle) happiness dance by Ígor; (top middle) I landed in the compost pile; (top right) Antonio is planting & watering; (bottom right) our thriving carrots

We planted various things but the birds ate almost everything. Especially the Jacu, our forest turkeys are very resourceful and not too picky about their food source. In the end mostly carrots remained and they are thriving. As much fun as it was to create our African Keyhole, we will most likely be creating something different for our kitchen garden in Abadiânia. Now is the time for us to collect some ideas!

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