An herb spiral is created in an area where you want to plant a ton of herb plants, but you don't have a lot of space. The spiral herb garden technique is used to make the most efficient use of what little space is available.
The point of spiral herb garden works on the idea of gravity. Water is poured from the top, which flows down freely. The top portion is a dry zone, and the bottom ones are for the plants that need water to thrive.
You'll want something to place in the bottom to keep the soil from coming out, but it also needs to be able to drain water. You can use a weed mat and gravel, for instance. Avoid using carpet as the chemicals from it may seep into the soil when broken down.
A power drill will be needed to help with this drainage and for creating pilot holes for screws on the wood you'll be using to build out the frame, if you choose to use wood. Otherwise use concrete pavers or bricks.
You will need a bag of compost and fertilizer. Make sure it's organic. You can create it at home by yourself, and don't worry about any maggots in your compost. Homemade compost has live micro-organisms, which aids in growing your herbs.
Find some mulch and know that anything available will work. This is mainly for the bulk of the soil in which you'll mix in the compost and fertilizer. Just watch out for the fertilizer numbers in accordance to the guidance offered below.
Of course you'll need herb seeds as well of whatever variety you intend to grow. I recommend using tons of different types so you can gain experience and have access to more flavors. Plus you'll have more colors in your spiral garden.
The orientation is crucial, because the position of the sun should be in accordance with your plants' needs. If you can't rotate and move your frame around, then plant the seeds according to the position of the sun.
Now let's get started with the actual construction of the spiral. It's not difficult but I do recommend reading through all of the steps first before you start, then go through each step one at a time again while following the directions.
Now tie a string to the stake and stretch out its other end to a length that matches the radius you desire. Attach the loose end of the string to another stick or any means in which you can drag it around in a circle to mark the ground.
Building your herb spiral in your lawn means dealing with weeds. To stop weeds from growing up from the bottom and damaging your plants, you can soak cardboard totally wet so that they don't move from their place when you lay them on top of the marked circle we made in the previous step.
When the cardboard is broken down, it adds up to the organic matter and promotes micro-organisms' growth. It also kills anything trying to live beneath it. This works better than liner you'd put below mulch because you still need water drainage ultimately.
What you use to construct the walls is up to you. I'd recommend some kind of pavers, bricks, or other smaller items that stack well and are short enough to be able to curve around the diameter of the spiral.
Your spiral will taper down from the middle in the form of a slope. At the base of it, you can add a pond of water if you want or any other decorative ideas. Usually, the middle point is the highest at about 3 to 4 feet in height.
How and what you use in your soil composition depends upon the availability of specific stuff in your region and how much you plan on spending.There's no need to spend a bunch of cash. A normal bag of fertilizer will do the trick.
You're now ready to plant your herbs. I also recommend planting flowers around the other areas and even succulents. We've talked about how to propagate succulents, so just a few that you purchase can go far over time.
An herb spiral is an excellent option for small spaces and gardens. The surface area increases for planting to optimize the use of the area. Additional growth is done vertically. Usually, people make their spiral gardens around 3 feet in diameter and then add more height if needed.
Everyone has the average plant containers and plant beds, but not every garden has an amazing spiral. Since the herb spiral is so different than the usual gardening stuff, all the visitors will focus on it.
Herb spiral can be made, survive, and thrive even on the concrete surfaces available. There's no need for excessive digging or anything else.Most of us have patios or decks where we're not sure how to use the space. This is a great addition to bring some color and life to an otherwise dull area.
By building an herb spiral in your garden, you'll save the money you spend on fresh herbs. Whenever you need any herb, you can just go to your garden and collect it from there. It saves time on preparation and runs to the store too.
Not many people have the time and energy to maintain a big garden at their place. However, a spiral is easier to maintain, and by setting irrigation, you will be free from watering your herbs daily. All you have to do is mulch, sow, and harvest.
A good herb spiral depends upon the position of each herb. If you place herbs that consist of intense fragrance, you will get yourself built-in pest control. Most pests and insects do not come closer to plants that have a strong scent.We've talked about this before in posts like 21 Plants that Repel Ticks.
The benefits from building one of these are mutual; a nicely built spiral will benefit your whole garden. If you have flowering herbs, they will attract bees and butterflies, which are essential pollinating agents. In this way, your full garden remains in good shape and maximum produce.
The building of an herb spiral can be done at very low costs. You can use materials lying around in your house and have fun being creative with your spiral.If you want to make it a bit nicer, the small amount of lumber you'll need will be a negligible cost.
If your garden has a pond at its bottom, building a herb spiral close to it will attract all types of wildlife. For example, frogs and lizards are essential living beings around your garden as they are going to eliminate mosquitoes and eat up pests and insects.
You w'll forget about eating bland food with just salt and pepper once you taste your homegrown basil, parsley, rosemary, and thyme. Sage is my favorite, so I definitely recommend you growing that in your herb spiral.
What is an herb spiral? Mia Cover from Mias Little Farm explains the reasons and benefits of planting an herb spiral. The beauty of an herb spiral is that it creates many different microclimates, which allows many different types of herbs to be planted in the same area. In Mias herb spiral, she is able to grow many different kinds of herbs such as rosemary, sage, chives, garlic chives, basil, parsley, cilantro, dill, chamomile, and yarrow, all in the same spiral!
Other than your herb spiral being a gorgeous eye grabber for your garden design, the shape has practical uses as well. With the spiral raised at the center, spiraling down to ground level, many different microclimates are created. The top of the spiral will get full sun, where you will find more shade in the ground level sections. Some parts of the spiral will hold moisture well, while the raised sections offer the opportunity for well-drained, drier soil. By creating all these different microclimates, we give our garden the opportunity to grow a wide array of different herbs with different growing needs, in a small space.
The first thing you need to do in creating your Herb Spiral is to choose where you want it to be. One thing to consider is that most herbs need a lot of light. Try not to build your herb spiral next to a wall or beneath a tree. It will be most effective if it is built on relatively level ground, this will allow your spiral to receive even sunlight and to drain properly.
Once you have chosen your spot, its time to start constructing your spiral. Start by making a cone of soil and rubble that reaches a height of around 2 feet at its center. Next, build your spiral around your mound of soil using whichever material you prefer. Stones, cinderblocks, reclaimed bricks, or even bottles are all great materials to use for your spiral. Next, you want to fill in your spiral with soil. Try to layer your beds ingredients to maintain moisture retention, weed protection, and drainage. All thats left is choosing your plants. Here are a few herbs that are perfect for your first herb spiral.
Basil:This common and easy to grow herb can kick off the flavor in a variety of dishes. Basil does best in full sun and moist soil. Plant it halfway up your herb spiral on the side that will receive the most sun.
Oregano:Has a long history of bringing flavor to dishes, specifically in Italian and Greek cuisines. Oregano loves the sun and well-draining soil. Plant it at the top of your spiral so it gets plenty of sun and dry soil.
Sage:Packs a healthy dose of vitamins and nutrients and can even help memory and brain health. Sage loves well-draining soil and oregano. Try planting these two herbs next to each other for the best results.
Dill:Full of micronutrients that provide health benefits, dill not only boosts vitamin A and vitamin C, it also is full of antioxidants that help skin health. Dill grows best with plenty of morning sun and afternoon shade. It grows tall, so try placing dill in a position where it will not block the sun for other plants.
Rosemary:Traditionally used to alleviate muscle pain, boost the immune and circulatory systems, and can even promote hair growth. Rosemary can tolerate some shade and loves sandy, well-draining soil. Plant high on the spiral on the side that receives the most shade.
Once harvested, Rosemary and sage can be bunched together using kitchen twine and hung to dry. Once they have dried, the bunches can be used as a fragrant decoration or put into mason jars for later use in the kitchen. When you are ready to use some of your dried herbs in your cooking, remove them from the mason jars and pull off the dried leaves. For thyme and oregano, use a dehydrator to dry them and store them in mason jars.
Have an awesome herb garden this year? Great news! You can save seeds for many of your culinary herbs to plant next year. Basil, cilantro, and dill seeds can easily be taken from the blooms and put into jars to plant next year. If you toast your cilantro seeds, they become the spice coriander, and you can use them in the kitchen all year long!
A mini-pond in your herb spiral will provide moisture for plants that thrive in a wetter environment and will allow water to trickle down and feed your plants. It will also attract beneficial insects to your herb spiral and provide them with a cool drink of water. Adding tall flowers for shade around your herb spiral will help to protect plants that thrive in cooler environments and will keep your mini-pond cool for those insects to have a cool place to drink. If you see caterpillars climbing on some plants, leave the plants where they are until the caterpillars are done with them. Then your garden will be full of beautiful butterflies.
Take the necessary steps to ensure your perennials will come back again next year. Some perennial herbs like rosemary can be rooted as a backup. To root your rosemary, strip the bottom half of sprigs and plant them in pots indoors near a sunny window. Later on, you can move them back outdoors. Most other perennial herbs can be cut down, and after winter, they will grow back just as strong as ever.
A spiral garden is a fun alternative to an ordinary raised bed. The basic idea behind this design of the garden, is to get as many different plants in a limited area. A spiral garden can be constructed in any desired size and with a variety of materials, making it a great way to add an architectural element to small or large garden spaces. In this spiral garden you could plant herbs, flowers, plants, fruits and veggies or whatever you want. Here are 10 interesting spiral garden ideas that might inspire you to build your own.
It's easy to make this stunning spiral garden planter. Build it to any size you like by varying the component sizes and number of layers. I'll describe making the low planter shown in the photograph, for which I'm going to use just a few softwood pallets, glue, brads, and stainless steel screws.
I'm using a plunge/track saw, but a circular saw, jigsaw, hand saw, etc. is fine. Just cut the boards up next to the bearers. You should end up with boards about 12-13" long, 2-3" wide, and 5/8-3/4" thick. You'll need sixty three of these.
I place each board in turn on the sled, up against the fence, lock it in place with the toggle clamp, then rip a small amount off the one edge by running the sled against the saw tables fence. This gives me a board with a clean and straight edge. Now repeat fifty nine times.
You could now run all the boards through a thicknesser to get them the same thickness, but I used the table saw, since my thicknesser has broken down. This method worked very well in fact, and the stacks soon looked much better.
Set each new layer in place, keeping all the layers centred, but rotating each layer such that you end up with the final layer in line with the first. (If you have four layers, then each one will need to be rotated 30 (90 3). For 'n' layers, the angle is 90 (n-1).
With the main spiral completed, you can rip the base pieces to width, and glue them up so that they are a little sloppy in the bottom of the spiral (that way they won't cause any problem when they get wet and swell a little in width).
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When visitors come up our driveway, one of the first things they see is our herb spiral, which is prominently situated. They always ask us for details: What is this? and, Why is this bed in the shape of a spiral? It's always fun for me to explain the thinking behind this innovative garden design.
Imagine a long garden row, about 25 feet long. Then, take that row and coil it around and upward into a spiral. This spiral now has the length of a row, but only occupies a circular space about 6 feet wide.
Unlike a flat garden, an herb spiral is in three dimensions. The high spots get the most sun and have the best drainage, making it ideal for plants such as oregano or rosemary that thrive in sunny, well-drained sites. The bottom of the spiral, of course, is the right place for plants that like more moisture and some shade, such as comfrey. Plants planted along the eastern side of the spiral will get shade after noon, while the plants on the west side will take the brunt of the afternoon sun.
To make our herb spiral, we prepared the area by first completely leveling the site. Then, we dug a 6" trench in the shape of the spiral. Into this trench we ran rebar (reinforcing steel), placed on old bricks. Then, we mixed and poured bagged concrete to create the foundation. With the foundation in place, we mixed mortar and laid the bricks, row by row, until we had the shape we wanted. Working a couple hours a day, it took two weeks to make our herb spiral.
We love our herb spiral. In addition to herbs, we use it to grow vegetables: spinach, lettuce, brassicas, carrots, peppers, eggplants and so on. Because it's such a beautiful garden, we are happy to have it right next to the house, where it is close to the kitchen, whenever we need fresh herbs.
Around that time I was reading The Vegetable Gardeners Guide to Permaculture: Creating an Edible Ecosystem, which is packed with simple projects for the home gardener. An herb spiral was one of the things that caught my eye in the book and I thought it would be a perfect way to add a softer and more organic shape to my front yard garden.
Several years later it remains one of my most favorite things Ive ever built in my garden (along with these easy DIY trellises) and it was so easy! You dont need any special tools, talent, or know-how to build one in your own garden.
In fact, after teaching my herb workshop throughout the winter to garden clubs and Master Gardener groups, where I show people how to build their own herb spiral, I often get a few emails in the spring from people whove taken on the project and built one themselves after being inspired by my class.
Compact.You probably already know that growing up is an efficient way to fit more food in the same space in your garden. Besides growing plants on trellises and arbors, using an herb spiral,depending on its design, can help you grow more herbs in a smaller space.
Water drains naturally.Many of the common herbs like sage, thyme, and rosemary originated in warm and dry Mediterranean climates.This means that they arent going to be happy in wet conditions. Because an herb spiral is elevated, it will shed water and keep those herbs happy and healthy.
Retains heat. Many herb spirals are made from bricks or stones. Their solid mass collects heat from the sun during the day and then release it all night long. This is great for northern gardens like mine, which often see cooler nighttime temperatures. I find that my heat-loving herbs grow like gangbusters in the herb spiral.
Adds structure and interest.Our vegetable gardens can easily turn into very linear environments with square and rectangular beds planted with straight rows of vegetables. Nature features lots of soft and rounded shapes, so why not include some in your vegetable garden design?
The first step of building an herb spiral is deciding on your design. I highly recommend using Pinterest for this research step. You can use it as a search engine and type in herb spiral to see lots of different designs and materials people have used to build theirs.
Next, youll want to decide on the location and size of your spiral. Pick a flat spot in your yard or clear an area to make it level. I wanted to incorporate my herb spiral into my garden expansion, so I situated it between two curved, rectangular garden beds.
To purchase the bricks for my spiral, I went to a local reuse store and loaded up my little hatchback with a pile of bricks taken from a 100 year old building. I wasnt sure exactly how many I needed, so I just bought about 80 bricks. I did end up needing to go back for another small load to complete my spiral.
Im more of a wing it kind of person, but if you like to calculate things ahead of time you can make an outline of your spiral with the steps below, measure the building blocks youre using, and then try to calculate how many you would need.
Soil Youll need to fill the spiral with soil once youre finished building it. I was building other beds in my garden, so I already ordered a bulk delivery of 1/2 topsoil and 1/2 compost. I dont recommend filling the spiral with straight compost (been there, done that!) because it likely wont have enough nutrients for healthy plants. I like a mixture of soil and compost instead.
Ive build lots of gardens throughout the years and Ive found that when I order soil to fill garden beds its often of poor quality and lacking in nutrients. Most herbs are more forgiving of less than ideal garden soil, but I still recommend adding an organic fertilizer before planting. Read about which kinds I recommend here.
Mulch If you leave bare soil in your garden it will be susceptible to compaction, erosion and weed growth. This is why I dont leave soil uncovered in my garden unless Im waiting for seeds to germinate.
Most of my garden beds are mulched with oat straw or hay mulch, but I like something a little special for my herb spiral. I purchased a big bag of cocoa bean hull mulch a few years ago and only use it on the spiral. It smells divine right after you apply it to the garden!
Start laying your first course (thats what each layer of stone is called). Take the time to get a shape you like. I used some of the less shapely bricks on the bottom since I figured theyd be mostly hidden.
When you get your first bottom course completed, youll start the second course by coming back to the beginning and counting in 2 1/2 bricks. Youll start your second course at this point. See the photo below and accompanying video for more explanation.
Youre going to continue to repeat this with every layer until you run out of bricks or get the spiral to your desired height. When starting each new course, count in 2 1/2 bricks and then start laying. Theres no right or wrong here, its all about how you want it to look.
After your infrastructure is finished, its time to add soil. As you learned above, I prefer a mix of half organic compost and half topsoil. If you ordered a bulk delivery, use a shovel and wheelbarrow to fill your herb spiral with soil.
Its not a good idea to leave bare soil in your garden because it will grow weeds and get eroded and compacted by rain and wind. After filling, you should mulch the soil in your spiral with hay, leaves, straw, or grass clippings. You can see in the below photo I used leaves.
If youve built your spiral in the spring you can start planting your herbs right away. I recommend taking a trip to your local farmers market for seedlings. For most herbs youll only need one or two plants since they produce a lot. Thats why I recommend purchasing plants instead of seeds.
You can grow pretty much any herb you want in your spiral. I have a mix of perennial herbs like thyme and mint that stay in the same place from year to year and then I intersperse annual herbs like lavender, calendula, basil, and parsley. Its fun to change up the design every season with different combinations!
Ive found theres not much maintenance involved with the herb spiral. I keep it weeded and make sure to harvest the herbs on a regular basis. I mulch once a year and have added a little bit of soil to the top as its settled over the years.
Depending on where you live, most of the perennial herbs should come back each year so you wont have to replant. If you use annual herbs like parsley or basil youll have to purchase new plants each season.
Building an herb spiral is a simple project you can tackle any time of year! I hope this post proved to you that it doesnt take any special tools, talents, or know-how to easily create an awesome spiral. Believe me, any gardener can do it!
While I was building my herb spiral a few years ago the PBS show, Victory Garden/Edible FEAST came for a visit to my garden. They shot a cool time-lapse video of the process and also invited me to talk about using row cover to extend the fall harvest season. My segment starts at minute 13 here.
MASTERCLASS:All About Gardening with Herbs: How to Grow, Harvest, Cook With and Preserve the Bounty.While teaching thousands of gardeners over the years one thing Ive learned is that most people are either not growing many herbs or under-utilizing the herbs they do grow.
 Permaculture has been a buzz word in the gardening world for over a decade, but its a big topic and can be confusing to gardeners. This book breaks down different ideas in permaculture and translates them into concrete projects you can create in your own garden. This is the book that promptedme to build my front yard herb spiral.You can check out a video of me building that spiral here. 
Hi Meg, Im nearly a neighbor over in Fort Atkinson, WI. Im planning to build a spiral with lannonstone sitting in my woods but I fight weeds so much and hear that spirals are very prone to weeds as they blow in thru the stone. You didnt mention if you used any weed barrier. Would you please comment on the weed problem? thanks
Hi Christine! I havent had any issue with weeds in my spiral. They grow about the same as the rest of my garden. I keep it mulched all year round. Ive had more issue with ground squirrels invading. I just rebuilt my spiral and put some fencing inside to try to keep them out. I dont like weed barrier in general, but you could try it.Get in Touch with Mechanic