Highland Lakes Master Gardener Association


Highland Lakes Master Gardener Program

“Keyhole” Gardening Guru Taught Class in Marble Falls

By Ann McElroy and Sharon Jenson


        Last summer, everyone with a garden struggled with the heat and drought. Although the drought may have wrecked havoc on our plants, most of us emerged with a strong resolve to find new ways to overcome the challenging Central Texas climate. This spring we've had great rains and moderate temperatures, so we’re all anticipating a better gardening season.

  Dr. Deb has used her background in landscape design, environmental science, and research of African survival techniques to create the ultimate raised bed garden. Sort of a “one stop shop” for extraordinary production and nutrition, Dr. Deb’s keyhole garden provides more healthy food under more challenging conditions than anything that’s come along in quite awhile. 

Like many successful innovations, Dr. Deb’s concept is surprisingly simple. It starts with a 6-foot diameter circle which defines the outside perimeter of the 3 foot deep gardening structure.  The center of the garden includes a 1-foot in diameter mesh basket that’s used for continual composting. The key to the ease of using the structure is the notch (shaped like a piece of pie) that allows access to the compost basket. The birds-eye view of the structure resembles a keyhole. 

Texas Power Co-op magazine recently published a detailed article about Dr. Deb’s keyhole gardening concept.  You may read it online at or visit Dr. Deb’s website at