This innovative garden method is the urban gardener’s dream. It takes a long, space-monopolizing row bed and turns it into a compact, efficient spiral that utilizes vertical real estate and creates an ideal environment for many types of herbs. So what exactly is an herb spiral and why should you build one in your garden? Read on to find out!
What is an herb spiral
An herb spiral is exactly what the name suggests. It is a coiled garden in a raised spiral shape. This design was created by author and gardener Bill Mollison and was inspired by many spiral shapes that are found in nature such as snail shells and seashells. The spiral ramp is wide enough for most common herbs and creates a highly productive, energy efficient garden ideal for a compact space.
The herb spiral allows you to plant many herbs together that wouldn’t normally do well in the same garden because it creates microclimates in the small area. When you water an herb spiral, you water from the top and allow the moisture to flow down along the natural curve of the bed. This makes care incredibly intuitive since you don’t have to worry about over or underwatering. In an herb spiral, plants that are on the bottom layer of the spiral should be ones that don’t mind the soil staying a little bit wet, such as mint and cress, while the top of the spiral stays reserved for herbs that prefer dry soil such as rosemary and oregano.
Benefits of an herb spiral
So why not just plant your kitchen garden in a typical raised bed? Aside from saving space, what are the benefits of an herb spiral?
Acts as an insulator
The stones, bricks, or blocks that you use to build the bed will act as an insulator and help the soil retain heat during the colder months. More heat means you get to enjoy fresh herbs later in the season.
You can easily access all sides
Since it is a round garden, it is easy to access all sides for planting, harvest, and care. You don’t have to worry about trampling other herbs next time you need to grab some cilantro for your homemade salsa.
It looks cool
Everyone will be asking about your herb spiral once it is bursting with fragrant plants. Creating one is deceptively simple, and it adds an interesting element of height and stone to your garden.
Varying levels of sun exposure
Not only does the herb spiral allow you to customize your herb garden according to water needs, but you can also plant based on varying sun requirements. It is best to place your herb spiral in a sunny area since most herbs prefer bright sunlight. However, some don’t want as much as others and can be planted accordingly on the shady side of your spiral.
You can plant it right on your patio
Herbs should always be planted as close to your kitchen as possible. This makes it more likely that you’ll run out to grab a few extra garnishes before your evening meal and you won’t have to worry about traipsing through your whole garden to find some mint leaves for tea. Herb spirals aren’t restricted to an open area of soil. Since it is technically a raised bed, it can be created right over concrete or any other unyielding ground.
Once established, herb spirals practically take care of themselves. In many areas, most herbs are perennial and will come back every year. Plus, the longer they have been growing, the less water and care they will require.
Total control over the soil
Unlike planting straight into the ground, where you have to go through the arduous process of amending the soil and mixing in compost, an herb garden allows you to have complete say over what goes into the soil. This allows you to ensure only the best quality compost and planting soil are used and protects from excessive weed growth.
You can install a pond at the base
If you love water features in the garden (and let’s be honest, who doesn’t?) you can dig out an area for a small pond at the “end” of your spiral, or where the water runoff goes. Install a small pond with a bubbling fountain and your excess water won’t go to waste. This added feature will help make your herb spiral truly stand out in your garden.
Interested in making an herb spiral? Stay tuned for our next article to learn how to build one in just a few simple steps!