Wednesday, January 29, 2014

How To Build an Herb Spiral

Since the weather in Minnesota is frightfully cold right now, we will take a moment to gloat about our year-round gardening potential in sunny Ethiopia.

We recently took an ‘herbal training’ from a 3rd-year Peace Corps Volunteer, Emily. She taught us how to make an herb spiral garden, which, like the name implies, is a circular garden of herbs designed to use gravity, sun position, and drainage in a limited space. The design allows water to drain slowly from the top center toward the outer bottom. The top is dry and sunny, while the bottom is moister. So, herbs which like well-drained soil are placed near the top, while herbs needing more water are placed at the bottom. Herbs that like sun are placed in the south, and so on.

To build an herb spiral, you will need:
  • Dirt
  • Sand
  • Compost
  • Large rocks, bricks, wine bottles, whatever you have
  • Herb seedlings or seeds
Step by Step:

Select a sunny location and mark off a 2 meter x 2 meter area. Then lay the large rocks (or bricks or bottles), starting in the center and spiraling out in an elliptical shape.

Fill in the areas with dirt and compost, then repeat the process, building the spiral upwards. If your soil is sticky and clay-like, add some sand for better drainage.
The center should get to be about 3 feet tall and gradually slope downwards from the top to the bottom. 

Plant the herbs according to their preferred climate. Consider the height of neighboring herbs, the position within the spiral, and the moisture level. Here is some guidance:

Dry: Borage, Chamomile, Chicory, Cilantro, Cumin, Fennel, French marigold, Garlic chives, Hops, Hyssop, Lavender, Marjoram, Nasturtium, Oregano, Rosemary, Saffron, Sage, Sweet basil, Tansy, Tarragon.

In-between: Basil, Bergamot, Borage, Calendula, Catnip, Chamomile, Chives, Cilantro, Dandelion, Dill, Ginger, Lavender, Lemon grass, Sage, Spring onions, Parsley.

Moist: Chamomile, Comfrey, Lemon balm, Mint, Parsley, Watercress. 

After planting the herbs and seeds, water everything well.  When you are finished, marvel at the beauty!

For additional reading about herb spirals, check out:

After 1 month


1 comment:

  1. Hi thanks for the link it all looks great what you are doing.