In past years, we have practiced raised-bed gardening at CopperMoon. This worked pretty well. We had seven beds from 4×8 to 4×11 feet from 2008 to 2013.
This year, we will try something new. We are going to use Keyhole Beds in our garden. There are many versions and opinions about keyhole garden beds. We are going with one of the simplest systems. This article describes it. Other keyhole systems recommend building a raised bed within a wall and putting a compost pile in the middle.
Our Keyhole beds will be raised horse-shoe shaped dirt mounds. The inside and outside of the beds will be trenches filled with wood chips.
One advantage of this system that appeals to me is that we can roto-till the garden area every year to keep weeds to a minimum. From outside to inside, the beds will be about 3 feet across.
Ideally, the opening to the middle of keyhole beds would face south. This presents a conundrum to us since our house is to the north of the garden area. South-facing keyholes would be awkward to get into. This is a question that we are struggling with: do we face the keyholes south as recommended or do we face them east for ease of access? We are experimenting with keyhole beds this year to increase our knowledge of gardening. My current position is to face the openings south just to see what difference it makes.
We have the garden area all prepped. It is 50×20 feet that has been amended with compost, llama beans, and other organic matter for at least 6 years. The entire garden is surrounded by a weed barrier now. With a little diligence, we should be able to keep the weeds under control.