Building a mandala garden is a great way to break up your garden beds into a riot of living colour, allowing easy accessibility and visual interest. It looks great too. Whilst filming at the Yandina Community Garden with Geoff Lawton we came across this very easy to build mandala garden bed that was tucked away in the shady end of the garden. It’s circular in shape and has a number of keyhole paths or spokes that invite you to look closer at the assortment of plants on display.
The paths allow you to crouch and inspect the garden without ever stepping on the beds. The idea in Permaculture is that you never step on the garden beds and crush or risk compacting the soil.
Permaculture gardeners like Geoff Lawton believe that by applying mulch and compost, you never need to dig and disturb the soil biota.
The bacteria and micro-organisms are best left undisturbed. This way you gain a rich array of soil life which creates an abundant thriving vegetable garden. Geoff says that “You never feed the plants. You feed the soil creatures.”
It’s the microbes and billions of bacteria that do all the heavy work in fostering soil fertility. The only effort needed is to apply some regular soil mulch and good compost and then allow time to have nature break it all down for you.
The advantage of keyhole paths is that you can easily kneel down and touch any part of the garden bed with your outstretched arms.
It’s all very accessible and allows for easy maintenance.
An easy way to design a Mandala Garden is to lay out the keyhole paths first using a length of garden hose to define the boundaries. A perfect circle can also be defined by inscribing an arc with a string or hose attached to a central hub post to mark out the boundaries.
Bricks are placed roughly in position to mark out the design. This one had the main boundaries defined in a snaking brick path of three key hole “spokes” that where flipped over to create the final circular wheel pattern.
In the center or hub of the mandala garden was a sunken pond that now had a large Taro root plant as the showpiece.
According to Geoff Lawton this garden could easily feed two or three people.
We saw Eggplant, Borage, Chinese Cabbage, Tomatoes, Parsley, Japanese lettuce and various herbs growing with minimal care.
“This is a health food shop.” said Geoff Lawton. “Everyone should have one of these.”