Sunday, July 14, 2019

+++++++++ Rainwater Catchment and Keyhole Garden +++++++++

Some days at Vivero La Esperanza are magical, some days are surprising, others are was one of those days that encompassed all the above mentioned.

Rainwater Catchment System

While the children and I focused on cleaning and organizing our storage space and weeding our garden beds, our Maestros Brad "Mulch" Mowers and Felipe Gerard Contreras were busy inventing a rainwater catchment system.

Made of harvested bamboo and twine, along with a lona, the structure soon took shape.

These two individuals are great engineers and soon had the whole thing figured out.

Now when the rains arrive at our Vivero, the water captured by gravity and the hand built system will help fill our well.

Keyhole Garden

Another dream of ours was to show the children different methods of growing food plants.  One of the most popular is the Keyhole Garden, and our Maestra Mino lead the charge.

A keyhole garden is a two meter wide circular raised garden with a keyhole-shaped indentation on one side. The indentation allows gardeners to add uncooked vegetable scraps, greywater, and manure into a composting basket that sits in the center of the bed. In this way, composting materials can be added to the basket throughout the growing season to provide nutrients for the plants. The upper layer of soil is hilled up against the center basket so the soil slopes gently down from the center to the sides. Most keyhole gardens rise about one meter above the ground and have walls made of stone. The stone wall not only gives the garden its form, but helps trap moisture within the bed.

 Bricks arrive

A design is taught and the plan drawn out.

Soon the base of the garden takes shape.

Taking a pause to review the work, the initial design is deemed too unstable, so it is back to the drawing board.

A new, more secure design is attempted.

Everyone agrees that this design is better.

Our mesh basket is created and placed in the center of the keyhole shape.


Now it is time to start building the layers of the growing medium.
First cardboard is layered.

Than a layer of newspaper is applied.

Our horse manure has been composting and is ready for the planting bed.

Then a layer of ficus leaves is placed on top of the manure.

And finally a layer of soil and compost is placed on top.

Our new garden is ready for planting.

We had a most amazing insect visitor this morning...can anyone identify this fantastic creature?

One of our greatest joys is being able to harvest the food we grow.  

Mino taught the children the correct way to harvest without injuring the plant.

We all agreed that today's harvest would be for Vivero Veggie Soup, that I will prepare and
bring next Saturday for a taste testing.

Here is to a plentiful, rich harvest and rainy season.

Thank you, as always to our wonderful volunteers and the people of
San Juan Tecomatlan for hosting our Vivero.


  1. So amazing Francisco. Well done everyone.

    1. Thank you Doris....much appreciated. Hope you feel better soon.


  2. This is amazing! I love the keyhole garden conept (new to me). I hope everyone enjoys the fruits of their labors. I think you should call the soup keyhole "stone soup."

    1. Thank you Eileen...comments much appreciated. Check the blog for a soup update soon. Best, Fco.