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Permaculture herb spirals are wonderful for many reasons
Herb spiral design helps to accommodate different herb microclimates and are easier to harvest from
What herbs to grow in your herb spiral
It’s important to remember the microclimates in your herb spiral. We made the rookie mistake of planting mint, which is invasive and not a good idea (this was our 2nd year gardening!). Here are some tips when choosing herbs for your kitchen herb garden, or you could add some shorter medicinal herbs, however, remember that many medicinal herbs grow very tall (some 6-10 feet) so really pay attention to the size.
Great herbs for a herb spiral include:
- Woody perennial herbs like thyme, oregano, sage
- Rosemary might not be the best choice for cooler climates as they need to a zone 9 for year-round growing.
- Annual herbs like basil, cilantro, and chamomile (ours self-sowed), parsley, dill
- Calendula flowers and other shorter flowers
- Mint isn’t a good idea, we grew lemon balm too, but that was also too invasive
The best herbs for a herb spiral are noninvasive and ones where the roots won’t grow so deep they’ll damage the spiral
Step-by-Step Instructions for
How to Build a Herb Spiral
Here are some visual step-by-step instructions for building a herb spiral.
We used rocks, but you can also use bricks.
1. We first cleared out the weeds and laid down cardboard with enough overlap to suppress weeds in the area surrounding the herb spiral.
Some people wet the cardboard as it breaks down faster but we didn’t bother. Then you want to use rocks (or some people use bricks) and start making your shape by constructing the outer wall first. We made ours with a 1-meter distance from the center of the spiral to the outer wall. Some people also choose to just pile a huge mound of soil and then wedge the rocks into it.
2. Then we made the outline shape of the spiral using the rocks and adjusted it if we needed to while filling it in with soil as we went. We chose slightly sandier soil as were growing a lot of Mediterranean herbs in the top layers.
3. Once you have the first layer of rocks you can add more dirt and then wedge more rocks to build a double rock wall.
4. Keep on filling the spiral with dirt until it’s level with the rocks. The uppermost top has a 3 layered rock wall to give the herb spiral more height.
Here’s what the herb spiral looked like the 2nd year.
Not all the herbs were perennials. Some of them self-sowed like the chamomile (and even ended up spilling all over the place outside the herb spiral). I’ve direct seed annual herbs like basil & cinnamon basil, dill and cilantro in the ‘blanks’ that you see here.
The herb spiral 3 years later
As I mentioned already, you’re not supposed to plant mint in a herb spiral as it’s very invasive. I did it because it’s close to the fence and I wanted it to spread in that area instead of wild weeds. Realistically though, it’s not the best herb for a herb spiral.
The #1 thing I will say is that rock gardens are that they need frequent weeding
I’ve discussed the pros and cons of using rocks to build garden beds in this post. Because most herb spirals are built with rocks, tiny weed seeds can fall into the cracks and germinate making it hard to weed.
Here are some photos of our herb spiral 3 years later.
I will say that we lived on a mountainside where the forest was growing into our garden, so weed battles were epic and frequently took over our garden.
I would definitely build a herb spiral again, but choose better herbs that are less invasive and weed more frequently
This was a popular DIY project from my old site Little Mountain Haven. We plan on building another herb spiral in the future. At the end of this post, I also show you what the herb spiral looked like in the 2nd and 3rd year. Many DIY posts fail to show you the long term results, only the pretty first year! I share the mistake we made.
My name is Isis Loran, creator of the Family Food Garden. I’ve been gardening for over 10 years now and push the limits of our zone 5 climates. I love growing heirlooms & experimenting with hundreds of varieties, season extending, crunchy homesteading and permaculture.