I love herbs and have them growing in several beds on my plot. The heavy clay soil on my plot makes it difficult to grow some herbs. For this reason I made a herb spiral. The purpose of a herb spiral is to create many different micro-climates for the herbs, to accommodate their differing needs. For example, herbs that prefer shade and moisture, such as chives are placed at the back towards the bottom of the spiral. Herbs that prefer full sun and plenty of drainage, such as lavender and rosemary are placed at the top, and in front (facing south). The herb spiral that I made in spring worked a treat. All the herbs did extremely well. If I had planted them directly into the heavy clay soil, doubt I would have had as much success.
I made the spiral with rocks that I found on the allotment site. I mixed the soil with sand and gravel to improve drainage. Before planting the herbs I added some compost. After planting I placed more gravel around the plants. I never had to do anything else to the herbs other than pick them. Oh, and the lemon balm needed a bit of a trim. Other than that the herb spiral was completely self-sufficient. Herbs in the spiral (from top to bottom): Lavender, Rosemary, Lemon Thyme, Thyme, Oregano, Golden Oregano, Purple Sage, Lemon Balm, Curry Plant, Dill, Parsley and Chives. A herb spiral makes it easy to water and to pick. As well as being practical they are also aesthetically pleasing. Great to have near the kitchen if you are lucky enough to have a south facing garden.
A Herb Spiral is a Permaculture technique. Permaculture is a term created by Bill Mollinson which comes from the words 'permanent agriculture' and 'permanent culture' to describe a sustainable way of growing food and a sustainable way of life. There is so much to say on this topic, so I will discuss it in more detail in a future post.
My allotment was completely covered with a thick blanket of snow the other day. My herb spiral was also covered, with a few hardy herbs breaking through the snow. Up until then, all the herbs were doing really well. The rosemary, lavender and curry plant are really hanging on. I haven't had chance to get down there since then to assess what survived. They should all come back in spring though. I am just glad that they did so well for so long.