Even though we are all aware of the benefits of having a fresh supply of herbs anytime we want, not everyone has the needed space to make a large garden at home.
However, there is a solution for this: you should establish a backyard herb spiral that will help you grow herbs in a concentrated way, and they will actually be much healthier than otherwise.
An herb spiral is a space-efficient, multi-level herb garden that offers optimal growing conditions for various species. It starts at ground level and gradually reaches up to a high point in the center of the bed.
Growing plants in this way creates various microclimates along the spiral with significant differences in the moisture, temperature, and exposure. Most spirals are made of stones or bricks, and high-quality soil, and are generally a six-foot diameter in size.
According to the Permaculture Research Institute, herbal spirals “are amazingly productive and a great way of getting into the mindset choosing the right spot to plant stuff, both in the sense of permaculture zoning and climatic considerations.
These are some of the reasons why everyone who can, should have an herb spiral, and there are many more. Herbs make meals more flavorful, used for creating sauces and marinades, infusing oils, or simply sprinkling them freshly julienned over virtually anything.
Culinary herbs also have heaps of medicinal benefits, both for preventing and treating chronic conditions like heart disease and dealing with everyday ailments like headaches. They are also amongst the easiest and quickest things to grow, something that can almost instantly end up in the kitchen.
For those looking to get into permaculture, an herb spiral can be a fantastic first project. For those already in the know but still developing their plot, the spiral will undoubtedly be a feature to include for its beauty, practicality, and ease.
Or, for those with well-established zone ones, abundant with plant life, herbs included, the spiral can be an eye-opening way to demonstrate principles to interested friends, family, and neighbors, a fun project to help them get into the idea.”
Despite being visually pleasing, these herb spirals are highly beneficial:
-- It is a perfect way to grow more plants in less space, due to the easily adaptable design;
-- An herb spiral elevates the plants, so you have an easier access to harvest and maintain it;
-- The elevated structure offers various microclimates, so you can grow a variety of herbs with different soil, exposure, and temperature requirements;
-- They are a great way to grow potentially invasive herbs like mint, as they will restrict their growing space;
-- Herb spirals are a great way to get the most out of your water resources, as they allow an optimal water efficiency as drought-tolerant species are grown near the top and the moisture-lovers in the lower levels;
-- The stacked stones make it an ideal environment for spiders, lizards, and other creatures that will keep pests away;
-- Growing herbs in your own yard is cost-effective;
-- The rounded, three-dimensional design of an herbal spiral is visually pleasing and it actually follows the Fibonacci sequence, a popular mathematical pattern throughout the natural world, and snail shells are a natural formation of it.
Moreover, constructing an herb spiral is easier than you thought, and all you have to do is follow these simple steps and get its functional design:
1. You will need a quality soil mix, mulch, and durable, slightly porous material to build the edges with, like fieldstones, or bricks, and some even use unsplit logs, bamboo, and recycled materials like beer bottles;
2. You need to plan the location of the spiral and its size. Keep in mind that it should be easily accessible, exposed to the sun, and near a convenient water source;
3. Divide the spiral into zones, and amend different types of quality soil in the sections, according to the planting plan;
4. Mark the perimeter of the spiral with small stones or stakes;
5. Start building the walls for the spiral using the material you have chosen, and place the stones, bricks, branches, or bottles around the base of the mound, working from the outside in.
The interior should be filled with dirt, and as you stack the stones around the center, intersperse small rocks and gravel into the bottom in order to fill in cracks and add some weight. Aim for about 40 inches tall at the center point for a six-foot structure.
6. Cover with mulch to ensure the proper moisture and prevent nutrient leaching, and water well;
7. Let the rocks and soil settle for at least six weeks before adding your plants, and add more soil if the levels shrink down too much;
8. You can build a small pond along its base to boost the growing opportunities;
9. After 6 weeks, you can add the herbs. The following guide will help you take full advantage of your spirals:
- Dry/ Sunny/ Top – sage, lavender, oregano, rosemary, lemongrass
- Mid-level/ South-facing – basil, dill, cilantro, thyme, tomatoes
- Moist/Partial light – chives, parsley, chamomile
- Wet/ Shady/ North-facing – mint, catnip, comfrey, lemon balm
The Herb Exchange concludes:
“Permaculture is all about developing spaces in a way that makes sense and works with the systems of nature that are already in place. Herb spirals follow these principles as well. They’re a great starting point if you’re interested into delving further into the world of permaculture.”
Therefore, devote the needed time to build your herbal spiral, and very soon, it will provide you with an endless supply of fresh produce of various species all year long.