The herb spiral is not only an attractive and effective way to always have fresh and delicious herbs ready, but also a wonderful example of the application of permaculture principles. Thanks to the spiral shape, the vertical and horizontal surfaces are optimally used. This makes it possible to cultivate a large number of plants in the smallest of spaces in order to create a stable and healthy ecosystem. Today we will show you how you can plant a herb spiral correctly so that it delights the nose and the palate.
The spiral motif from nature can be found in the art and architecture of many cultures – in the form of rolled up leaves, tendrils, as a representation of flowering plants, snail shells, etc. which are among the most beautiful structures in the cosmos. Perhaps this is why herbal spirals fascinate people in some ways.
Herbal spirals create a unique microclimate
The herb snail in the garden forms its own microclimate. The tip of the spiral is mostly oriented to the south. This is the sunniest and driest place, regardless of the type of soil. It gets a lot of sunshine during the day and rainwater drains off quickly. However, the summit is also most exposed to negative weather influences, i.e. wind and frost.
Below the top, the plants are a little more protected. Here the soil is also more humid. The microclimate at the foot of the herb spiral can be compared to the conditions at the base of a dry stone wall or on a house wall. The wall protects the plants from drying out, wind and other bad weather conditions and at the same time stores heat and moisture. In order to properly plant a herb spiral, you should get to know the needs of the herbs and choose the right location for each plant.
Advantages of the herb spiral
- is easy to care for – the only care is to harvest the herbs
- attracts beneficial insects to your garden
- the kitchen is supplied daily with fresh, seasonal herbs
- Herbs are always at hand and fresh
- It’s easily accessible and you can involve children in gardening too
- You can easily experiment with new types of herbs
- is nice to look at
- is space-saving – you can plant several types of plants in a small space
How big should the herb spiral be?
Herbal spirals can of course be built in different sizes and designs. The larger and the higher the spiral, the more pronounced are the differences in the climatic conditions of the individual micro-levels. While a 1 meter spiral shows only minimal differences between shady and sunny spots, a two meter long herb spiral already offers more different habitats.
The optimal diameter for a herb snail is 2 meters and the height is approx. 60-100 cm. This ensures seamless access to all parts of the spiral. Of course, you also need to consider how big your garden is. But don’t worry, herbs are usually grown in small quantities, so even in a smaller spiral you will come across all of the species that you use.
The most popular herb spirals are built in the drywall style. It looks like a spirally curved dry stone wall that increases in the middle, which is then gradually filled with earth. It is easier to build a sturdy wall with square stones than with rounded stones.
Where should the herb spiral be optimally positioned?
If you plant your herbs somewhere in a corner of the garden where they can rarely be reached, then the rule too often is: “Out of sight, out of mind”. So the best solution would be to build the herb spiral near the house, preferably next to the kitchen door. A location on the south side of the house would be ideal.
Thanks to its construction, the herb spiral offers a habitat for a large variety of plants with different needs and uses. The spiral usually begins with a small pond facing north at the base of the spiral. This is a damp and shady location where moisture-loving plants such as cress, coriander, parsley, nasturtium or mint thrive. You have to be careful with the mint, because it forms strong runners and can therefore colonize large areas in a short time. So it is not recommended for a herb spiral.
A spot in partial shade is ideal for herbs such as parsley and chives. At the top of the spiral, the driest and warmest place is suitable for Mediterranean herbs such as rosemary, thyme, oregano, hyssop and lavender.
To really use every space effectively, you can plant seedlings in the cracks in the wall. Find gaps between the stones where you can put wild strawberries or creeping thyme, for example.
Below are some suggestions for herbs that can be used when planting an herb spiral.
Planting plan no.1
From the top down:
4. Common thyme
5. Winter savory
7.Sand thyme (Thymus serpyllum)
8. Real chamomile
9. Pointed lobed lady’s mantle
11. Real St. John’s wort
12. Real motherwort
13. Lemon balm
16. Ordinary lamb’s lettuce
17. Wild garlic
19. Real watercress
Planting plan for herb spiral – example no.2
1. Basil mint
3. Lemon balm
12. Sand thyme (Thymus serpyllum L.)
Planting plan for herb spiral – example no.3
1 – real watercress (Nasturtium officinale)
2 – chives (Allium schoenoprasum)
3-garlic chives (Allium tuberosum)
4 – creeping celery (Apium repens)
5 – parsley (Petroselinum crispum)
6 – lemon balm (Melissa officinalis)
7 – Chervil (Anthriscus)
8 – Greater nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus)
9 – real chamomile (Matricaria recutita)
10 – Coriander (Coriandrum sativum)
11 – Real caraway (Carum carvi)
12 – basil (Ocimum basilicum)
13 – Sage (Salvia officinalis)
14 – thyme (thymus)
15 – oregano (Origanum vulgare)
16 – Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis)
17 – Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
18 – Lavender (Lavandula officinalis)
19 – Tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus)
20 – Cochlearia officinalis
21 – Lovage (Levisticum officinale)