Cabbage Patch Kids or How to Build a Kitchen Garden

A Kitchen Garden is an efficient way to grow vegetables on land where there is a limited amount of space.  They are also called keyhole gardens because of their unique shape.  The one pictured above comes from Lukindu village in Uganda and is an excellent example of permaculture at work.

The Kitchen Garden has many advantages. Vegetables are grown above ground on a layer of manure so the gardens can be built on rocky and otherwise infertile land. The gardens can be built close to the house where they can be accessed by the sick and elderly. The structure is designed in a way that frail gardeners do not need to bend down to cultivate and harvest. The manure core provides a place for compost. The soil around the core becomes fertile immediately. The height of the garden and un-compacted soil promotes roots growth.

Steps to making a Kitchen Garden:

1. 1.5 meters of manure is piled into a tower controlled by a ring of cassava poles.

2. Soil is collected in a mound 2 meters in diameter around the manure. This gives the garden a pyramid shape.

3. An indentation is created and reinforced with cassava poles to allow farmer to irrigate manure center.

4. A border of banana tree trunks is placed around the base to discourage erosion.

5. Cabbages and other vegetables are planted around the mound. A layer of straw covers the mound to prevent erosion, insulate, and protect young plants.

6. The garden is irrigated and composted by pouring water and organic waste down its core where moisture and nutrients will seep down into the surrounding soil.

One thought on “Cabbage Patch Kids or How to Build a Kitchen Garden
  1. The keyhole garden is an interesting idea, though I have wondered how efficient they are compared to traditional methods. There is a lot of labor involved in each one for a small amount of space.

    Also – you have a mistake in the post. You write that the center is “a ring of cassava poles.” That’s most definitely not cassava – he was cutting local trees for the middle. Cassava rots very quickly and if fresh, it would also sprout, grow and take over the entire keyhole garden.

    All the best.


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