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When we first set up, it was raining… well… harder and for longer than it has in Port Elizabeth for twenty years, an ironic welcoming to South Africa having lived in United Kingdom.  So we had to elevate our tents to prevent them from being constantly flooded – see appropriate pics.

After we had built a shack/hut/wend-house/shed/dwelling/cabin/home… after we had built a structure in which to live, the reclaimed rectangular slabs of cement (used for ‘slot-together’ walls in SA) stayed in place for a while, acting as a flat surface area on which to work.  We eventually had to decide on what was more useful – the working area, or another garden bed.  Considering that at that stage we had the humble abode and an outdoor kitchen (more on this later), we opted for a garden.  Specifically, a garden space in the form of a keyhole bed.

A keyhole bed is handy – it allows you to be able to access all parts of the bed, partly from the ‘outside’ of the bed, and partly from the inside, i.e. from the keyhole.  And it looks pretty cool too!  Ours is planted with carrots, tomatoes, strawberry corn, peppers, chives, cauliflower, beetroot, spinach, purple basil, and thyme.  Eggplant has also been added.

The method of bed preparation was: 1) remove reclaimed cement slabs! 2) Dig swale-holes in order to catch and retain as much water as possible under the bed. 3) Fill swale-holes with wood chip (any carbon matter will do). 4) Add alternating layers of soil and manure. 5) top with compost.

The final picture shows the keyhole bed a month after it was made; it has been planted with seeds for less than a month.  It has just been mulched with dried grass cuttings, which helps retain moisture in the increasingly hot South African summer days.