Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Building a Keyhole Garden


Drought Tolerant, Composting Garden


 A short while ago, I saw a post on Facebook with a Keyhole Garden and after checking it out, I decided that I wanted to build one.  Since the Keyhole Garden was designed for people living in a hot climate with dry, infertile soil, I thought it might work well here in the Great Basin Desert where it gets cold in the winter but very hot and dry in the summer.

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This garden has a circular design with a keyhole opening for easy access to the plants. Water is poured through a well in the center of the garden that is filled with compost material.  The well acts as a recycling center, compost maker and continually feeds nutrient rich water to the plants.

To start building my Keyhole Garden, I first selected a space that world get morning sun and some shade in the hot afternoon.  

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The space was cleared of gravel and then staked in the center to mark off a circle with an 8 foot diameter. 

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I chose two levels of cinder blocks as the retaining wall for my garden and placed them so the holes were facing up to be filled with dirt for additional planting space. 


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To begin construction of the well, a 3 foot tall length of fencing wire was tied together to form a 2 foot circle in the center of the garden.  The fencing wire would be the form to hold the well in place.


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 A layer of rocks was stacked in the bottom of the well to insure proper drainage.


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Strips of wood were placed on the inside of the well to hold in the composted material and retain the moisture. 

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 The inside of the well was lined with straw to form a bed for holding the composted material.  


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After the cinder blocks were stacked forming the ring for the garden, the planting bed was ready to be filled in.  The bed of the garden was formed by a layering process to allow proper drainage and aeration. 

The first layer, larger branches lined the bottom of the garden. And then a second layer of smaller twigs filled in on top of the branches.



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 The third layer, several inches of dry pine needles covered the twigs.


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The fourth layer was several inches of straw and then some of my cat’s hair that they donated for the project. 


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Amended soil became the fifth and final layer which was a mixture of top soil, sandy loam and chicken manure. 


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The soil was angled so that the highest or deepest part of the garden would be next to the well and gradually taper down to 13 inches at the cinder block ring.    


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In about a week after watering down the soil and adding more compost to the well, I was ready to start planting.

Radish seeds went in the cinder blocks since they had the shallowest roots.  Zucchini and summer squash were spaced toward the keyhole so they would have room to spread and could be easily reached for hand pollinating.  Egg plant went in the middle area.  Tomato transplants were buried up to their first leaves on the top portion so the roots could go in the deepest part of the soil.

I seeded flowers of Marigold and Borage next to the cinder blocks to help deter pests. And lettuce was added just above the flowers.

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It has now been just over a month and my garden seems to be growing quite well.  We have had a few days with some thundershowers but now the temperatures are getting close to 100°.  I am hoping that the plants do as well in July when the days are getting hotter, over the century mark.



No images on this blog are within Public Domain.






With my Nikon and tripod, my goal is to recreate the scene as it appears in nature, to preserve in a photographic image the awesome, yet simplistic beauty of the scene that waits around a bend or over a hill. Sometimes it's a colorful landscape, and many times I'm allowed in the presence of the numerous creatures that adapt to life in the wild.

 All rights reserved, world-wide and images protected by Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). All photography, graphics, text, design, and content is copyrighted by Bonnie Rannald and should not be copied, down-loaded, transferred and re-created in any way without the express consent, in writing to Bonnie Rannald. For information on Bonnie Rannald licensed, right-managed images, please submit a written request.


"Reflecting Nature's Artistry"


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Many of these images are available on our website.
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Monday, June 8, 2015

Spooky Rock and Scary Weather



Cloud chasing and tornado trekking


 What could be more exciting than driving out to one's favorite rock outcropping in the desert and then almost getting caught in a tornado?

 On a warm June morning, I noticed a few fluffy clouds starting to form over the distant mountains and decided to do some photo-exploring in the Garfield Flats area.  In landscape photography clouds always add drama to the sky and most often with the weather patterns here in the Great Basin Desert, clouds are all we get.    

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Garfield Flats is located just off U.S. 95 and a short drive from Hawthorne, Nevada.  The flat, open area has some very unusual rock formations and one out-cropping has been appropriately named Spooky Rock. 

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I planned my arrival to Spooky Rock in the morning when the sun would throw front lighting on the grimacing rocks.  A mixture of cirrus and cumulus clouds was beginning to grow in the western sky.

 One grouping of clouds over a monolithic stand of rocks appeared to have faces, matching the ones on Spooky Rock.

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As I turned toward the south, a large circle of clouds was creeping in over the mountain range; it looked like the Mother Ship was arriving!  The cloud formations were getting more interesting and I was enjoying the scenery.



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During my stop for lunch, I watched cumulus clouds mass together over the rugged landscape to the west. 


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In just a few minutes. one of the clouds in the west was now growing upward and taking on the characteristic anvil-shape of a towering cumulonimbus cloud.  The ground level was heating up and if there was enough moisture the atmosphere could become unstable. 


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So far the weather appeared to be typical of a warm Great Basin afternoon when dry microburst just producing virga, a precipitation that evaporates before reaching the ground.  However, from studying weather during my private pilot training, I knew that if the evaporation of water continued to cool the air, the microburst could grow in to a full developed thunderstorm. 


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After carefully scanning the sky, I began to realize that the weather was turning more ominous toward the east.  The cold air rushing down from the cloud was spreading out along the surface of the desert, creating a gust front.  I was starting to get a feeling that it was time to end my day of photo-exploring and get back on the paved road.


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Turing around, the lighting on the distant hills just too awesome not to stop for a quick photo. 


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I began to hear thunder toward the east and with the sky growing darker, I knew that I must not wait too long or I might get caught in a flash flood which can happen any time there is a thunderstorm out in the desert.


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Slowing down to maneuver on the narrow dirt road, I looked up to see a group of Mammatus (pouch-like) clouds in the southeast sky.  These clouds may not be a sign that a tornado is likely to form but they do indicate sinking air. 

  
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Finally turning north on the highway, big raindrops were just starting to hit the windshield.  I realized that I was on the leading edge of a macroburst which can cover 2 miles or more with damaging winds, hail and even a possible tornado.  Along with the pounding rain, pea size hail started to bounce off the windshield. 

Driving past Hawthorne, the winds increased and the hail grew larger.  After parking in the garage, the wind, rain and hail really broke lose but I was safe at home.  It was after the storm had cleared that I received the message that the south end of Hawthorne was been hit with an F-1 tornado and there had been damage to several homes and businesses.  I began to realize that while I was traveling north toward Hawthorne, the tornado was just off the tail of my truck.





No images on this blog are within Public Domain.






With my Nikon and tripod, my goal is to recreate the scene as it appears in nature, to preserve in a photographic image the awesome, yet simplistic beauty of the scene that waits around a bend or over a hill. Sometimes it's a colorful landscape, and many times I'm allowed in the presence of the numerous creatures that adapt to life in the wild.

 All rights reserved, world-wide and images protected by Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). All photography, graphics, text, design, and content is copyrighted by Bonnie Rannald and should not be copied, down-loaded, transferred and re-created in any way without the express consent, in writing to Bonnie Rannald. For information on Bonnie Rannald licensed, right-managed images, please submit a written request.


"Reflecting Nature's Artistry"


Follow this blog for upcoming post!
Photos Make Great Gifts!
Many of these images are available on our website.
We now offer Gift Certificates and Digital Downloads in addition to the
"Off The Wall" custom matted and framed images.