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We built an herb spiral!

May 15, 2012

I can’t pretend to know much about permaculture, but building an herb spiral is a project I’ve wanted to tackle for a long time. It’s a way to pack lots of garden space into a smaller footprint, creates microclimates for different herbs, and I love the aesthetic.

Not too long go we were lucky to have the use of a truck for the weekend, and managed to make it happen. (It’s amazing how easy it is to get a project like this done when you don’t have to work out how to transport 60 pounds of gravel by bicycle.) Here’s how we did it:

Step 1: Lay out the garden

Step 1: Create the outline and cover the area with cardboard. This is where it comes in handy to have roommates who work at a pizza place!

Step 2: Create the spiralStep 2: Build the base for your spiral using sturdy rocks. As you carry said rocks across the yard, scoff at the idea of paying for a gym membership.

Step 3: Fill base with gravelStep 3: Fill the base with gravel to help with drainage. We bought two bags of pea gravel (probably could have fit three) and supplemented with small rocks we pulled out of the garden–no shortage there!

Step 4: Add the soilStep 4: Fill with soil, continuing to build up the spiral with more rocks as you cover the base layers. We got a little obsessive at this point about finding the perfect rocks for each little gap…

Step 5: Plant!Step 5: Plant your herbs! Rosemary got the top spot, followed by oregano, sage and thyme. All of these plants moved here with us last November and waited out the winter and early spring in pots, so it felt good to get them in the ground. Continuing down the spiral, we direct seeded chamomile, cilantro, dill, and parsley. They’re starting to come up now, but in the photo you can see the plastic plant trays we used to keep the chickens from scratching up the seeds. Many of the instructions I saw online included mint, but we’re keeping ours in pots next to the spiral, so that they don’t take over.

Ironically, the main garden is now filled with self-seeded cilantro that is growing much faster than the stuff we planted in the spiral, but the sage and rosemary have never looked better! Next up, hugelkultur??

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. May 16, 2012 3:54 am

    Impressive …. and inspiring …. a herb spiral has been on my to-do list for ages, too. Love the rock and sloping idea.
    And if you have got sage going gangbusters, I need some help from you. I can never grow it!!!!

    • mjade permalink*
      June 26, 2012 9:20 am

      I bought the sage as a start at the Seattle Tilth plant sale last year, but we nearly picked it to death after discovering sage browned butter. I think it’s just happy to get a break!

  2. May 16, 2012 6:24 am

    Love your herb spiral garden design, I love working with rocks, have a pile that needs to relocate hoping to find the time soon.

    • mjade permalink*
      June 26, 2012 9:17 am

      Thanks! I’m hoping that as we find more nice rocks we can replace the bricks at the bottom, too.

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