What is an herb spiral? Mia Cover from Mia’s 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 Mia’s 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!
Join us as Mia walks us through how to get started with an herb spiral, how to harvest and dry herbs, and how to save the seeds of your beloved herbs for use in next year’s garden.
Benefits of an Herb 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.
Building Your Herb Spiral
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, it’s 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 that’s left is choosing your plants. Here are a few herbs that are perfect for your first herb spiral.
What to Plant in Your 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!
Herb Spiral Garden Pond
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.
Herb Spiral Garden Maintenance
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.
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About the Author:
Mia Cover is an avid home gardener and beekeeper, and runs a garden club at an inner-city high school. She lives with her husband and kids on a tiny urban farm in Nashville, TN.