THE HERB SPIRAL                              

A Herb spiral is a simple way to improve your kitchen garden by having a variety of fresh herbs close to the kitchen, where they are used most. The effectiveness of the herb spiral is that it creates a number of different growing conditions in a relatively small and compact space. A raised spiral creates extended edge space which is the most productive growing area and also creates different sun affected locations within a small space. The natural pattern of a spiral assists with aesthetics and a philosophy of working with nature and natural patterning.

 A Herb spiral is usually about one metre from the middle to the outer edge and the centre is usually about one metre in height. If it is constructed any bigger than this, you would have to walk on the growing area in order to harvest your herbs and this creates compaction which will diminish the growing ability of the herbs. If it is made smaller, you will diminish the warming effect that the rocks provide, to assist in the production of your herbs. If you wish to plant out more herbs, we recommend that you make a second Herb spiral. These can be place next to each other to create a yin-yang pattern

 You will need approx 1-1.5m3 of building rocks, (you can use bricks for the solid effect), more in a humid climate for extra drainage. 1/4-1/2m3 of growing medium, preferably compost but good soil is OK. 1-2 barrow loads of gravel, 10-20 of your favorite herbs, a small amount of cardboard or newspaper and a few good strong friends to help with building the rocks up and bringing in the growing medium.

 Choose a site close to the kitchen entrance as herbs are best used when freshly picked. The site should get full sun but partial shade is acceptable and it should be in a spot that doesn’t get water logged during the wet season.

Lay out the cardboard or newspaper on the area you on which wish to construct the spiral. This area will be about two metres in diameter. The cardboard/newspaper will stop weeds from growing through the growing medium and into the spiral. Arrange some rocks on the cardboard/newspaper clockwise (southern hemisphere) to begin forming the spiral. The end of the spiral, (or the start) can be fitted with a rock to work as a stopper or you can incorporate a small pond in that location.

 Make sure that you provide good rock foundation the entire way up the spiral to prevent the whole thing from sinking to nothing over time. As you build the spiral up, add your growing medium to assist with holding the rocks in place. In more tropical climates, put some gravel or coarse river sand in first before you add the growing medium to increase the drainage capacity of the spiral. Hose the material in, to settle it as you build the spiral. Drainage is very important when growing herbs.

 Once the spiral is completed, there now are a variety of niches for specific herbs to grow. The very top, the centre of the spiral, will be the driest conditions suitable for plants such as rosemary and aloe with the conditions getting wetter as you move down the spiral. You will also have created different sun aspects. This means that you will have north, south , east and west facing slopes in the spiral. It is best to plant each of the herbs in their most favorable condition. Be careful not to plant herbs that will have a rampant effect in the spiral as they generally tend to take over the spiral and diminish the variety of flavours that you can achieve.