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DIY Herb Spiral

Build your own herb spiral to grow more herbs with less space.

| April 2018

  • herb spiral
    Coiled like a snail shell, an herb spiral winds up and around, with the center of the coil being the highest point of the growing bed.
    Photo by Getty Images/emer1940
  • cover
    “Suburban Micro-Farm” by Amy Stross is the perfect guide for readers who want to live a homestead lifestyle in the suburbs.
    Cover courtesy Twisted Creek Press

  • herb spiral
  • cover

The Suburban Micro-Farm: Modern Solutions for Busy People (Twisted Creek Press, 2017), by Amy Stross is a helpful guide for readers wanting to grow their own food in their backyard. The book provides useful tips to develop and nurture healthy-soil, use perma-culture techniques for abundant harvests, and to stop letting your garden overwhelm you. The following excerpt is from Chapter 6, "Herbs on the Micro-Farm."

An herb spiral is a compact, vertical garden design that makes it possible to grow a lot of herbs in a small space. I like to use this technique for growing culinary herbs outside the back door, so I can grab herbs quickly while cooking. Just a small handful of fresh sage leaves — for example — can really pack flavor into a soup or casserole. The convenience of a back-door herb spiral makes it more likely that I'll use the herbs, and considering the nutrient density of small amounts of herbs, this is good news!

Other people might like to use an herb spiral for growing a medicinal garden by the back door so that its first aid benefits are conveniently located when needed.

Coiled like a snail shell, an herb spiral winds up and around, with the center of the coil being the highest point of the growing bed. While an herb spiral can be of any size, it is generally a mound that is 18 inches to three feet tall at its central, top-most point, and about five to seven feet in diameter. The spiraled coil is usually outlined with rocks or bricks.

The height of the bed creates micro-ecosystems because there are sections facing in each direction, with some sections (south and west) receiving more sun than the north- and east-facing sections. Additionally, the lower sections will stay moister longer, while the tallest point will be the driest. This allows you to grow a large diversity of herbs. For example, rosemary, sage, and thyme will enjoy the sunny, dry sections, with herbs like basil, chives, cilantro, and parsley enjoying the partial shade and moisture of the northern, and lower sections. Oregano and marjoram are versatile and can work well wherever there is space.

In a medicinal herb spiral, lavender and thyme will grow nicely in the sunny, dry sections while comfrey and lemon balm will enjoy the moister, shadier sections. Dandelion and garlic are more versatile and can be placed wherever there is space.

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