Build an Herb Spiral: Give Your Garden Ancient Flare
Growing many different herbs in a small space is easy if you build an herb spiral. An herb spiral is a popular feature of permaculture, the approach to designing agricultural systems that mimic patterns found in nature. An herb spiral provides aesthetic pleasure while creating a habitat well-suited to dozens of herbs.
An herb spiral is a walled spiral structure that gradually becomes taller towards the center of the spiral. The planting surface slopes so that the surface is the same distance from the top of the wall throughout.
- Height: Most spirals are about 1 meter high.
- Diameter: It's helpful to be able to reach the center of the spiral from the outside without climbing on the walls, so a 2 meter diameter is common.
The structure of the spiral will provide you with a range of wet to dry soil and sunny to shady areas. The top and center of the spiral will contain the driest soil and the sunniest growing area, and the bottom and end of the spiral will have the wettest soil and the shadiest growing area.
- Rocks or bricks for wall
- 2 meter square of cardboard to lay over surface before building
- Dried moss, straw, manure
- Gravel and sand for high precipitation area
- Compost soil
- Stick and 1 meter string for drawing the perfect circle
Step 1- Prepare the Surface
Lay your 2 meter square of cardboard down on a cleared area. The cardboard keeps weeds from growing amongst the wall, and will eventually decompose. You can just place cardboard under where the wall will be, but the cardboard serves as a nice drawing board to outline your spiral wall.
Step 2- Draw a Perfect Circle
Press a stick into the approximate center of the cardboard square. Tie the pencil to one end of the string and the other end of the string to the stick. Draw a circle on the cardboard. Use this as a starting point for drawing your spiral. Face the end northwards or where there will be the most shade.
Step 3-Build the Wall
Using bricks or rocks, outline the spiral evenly about one foot high. Then beginning at the end gradually add rocks and/or bricks until the center is about 1 meter high.
Step 4-Layer with Compost, Top with Soil
If you live in area the gets a lot of rain, you may want to fill the bottom several inches with gravel and sand to help with drainage, or you can just start layering with several inches of straw (not hay), and manure. Dried moss can be added at the end towards the open end of the spiral to aid with keeping the ground more moist. Water after each layer. You will add many more layers towards the center of the spiral than on the end. Add several inches of compost soil once you are about a foot from the top of the wall. Cover evenly and smooth out. The surface should look like a gentle slope.
Step 5- Plant Herbs
Do your research, but as a starting point these herbs are listed from those requiring the driest soil (top of spiral) to wettest (bottom).
The herb spiral makes space out of nothing and treats each herb to each personal paradise!Photo by Marcus Busby (