Herb Spirals

Herb Spirals are a really awesome design for maximizing garden space and creating an interesting landscape feature in the process.  They're also a great way to introduce people to gardening and permaculture.  It's a low-maintenance, high-yield system that is visually appealing.  They may not be ideal for large-scale production, but they're ideal for home-scale herb gardening.  They work by creating microclimates in different parts of the garden.  The spiral is higher in the center, which shades the northern side of the spiral.  Water flows down the garden, so the center/top is drier, while the bottom is wetter.  This allows you to plant herbs that like a variety of conditions, all in the same spot.  It's best to put a garden like this as close to the kitchen as possible, so you can step outside to pick fresh herbs to use in the kitchen.  You can even add a pond to the bottom of the herb spiral for growing water plants.

Here are the herb spirals that I built during the summer of 2014:

Parent's house in Delaware

This was my first herb spiral build.  It was at my parent's house.  They wanted to use landscaping bricks to match the ones they already had around the garden in front of the house.

Material Cost - $200ish for materials
Time - 5 Hours over 2 days
~100 Bricks, organic compost, sand, rock rubble from on-site, herbs

Early September and the herb spiral is exploding with life.  Water hyacynth, purslane, marigold, parsley, thyme, chamomille, dill, catnip, lavendar, tarragon, oregano and rosemary.

Water hyacynth, parrot's feather, and water peppermint in the small pond.

Immediately after construction and transplanting herbs.

Didn't have anything in the pond at first.

Lana's Parent's House

My second herb spiral was at my girlfriend Lana's parent's house.  They were away on vacation, and trusted us to make it look nice, since aesthetics were a priority.  When they got home, they were pleased, and now that the herbs are really thriving, they're very happy.

Material Cost - $200 ish for materials
Time - 4 Hours over 2 days
100 bricks, leftover sand, organic compost, rock rubble from on-site, mulch from off-site, herbs and seeds

Eugene picks mint for tea, and basil for salads.

I planted mint, marigold, curly parsley, tuscan basil, garlic chives, fennel, dill, thyme, chamomille, tarragon, sage, cilantro, oregano, rosemary, and a pretty pink flower in the top center.

Right after planting

Gandhi Garden

The Gandhi Garden in downtown Trenton, NJ is a community garden built by the SAGE coallition.  They had reclaimed bricks, and donated soil, so this was a cheap build.

Material Cost ~ $15 for herb transplants
Reclaimed bricks, donated soil, sticks/weeds/etc from on-site
Time - 3 hours in one day with 3-4 volunteers

This had sage, basil, lavendar, oregano, thyme, calendula, chia, rosemary, onions, fennel, dill, and purslane.

Sarah's Butterfly Community Garden in West Philadelphia

This herb spiral was also built with reclaimed bricks and donated soil.  We had corn transplants, and seeded everything else.

Material Cost ~ FREE
Time - 4 hours over 2 days with 2 volunteers

As it looked in mid-September 2014

We transplanted corn, and seeded echinacea, parsley, chives, fennel, letuce, basil, tarragon, cilantro, oregano, lavendar, and rosemary.

I'm working on an herb spiral info sheet that will have useful information for all the plants I choose from when planting an herb spiral.  It will include care instructions, harvesting instructions, how to use the herbs, and any other useful info I can think of.

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