This week we built a herb spiral at CECAL (Canterbury Earlwood Caring Community Centre) as the start of turning their front area into a community garden. The herb spiral is a small example of a lot of good permaculture ideas in one place. It uses space and water efficiently and creates micro climates for your different herbs. Traditionally the herb spiral is placed close to your kitchen door so that you can nip out and grab your favourite herbs. In Earlwood we placed it as close as we practically could to the kitchen but when you’re working in limited and confined spaces these decisions also become limited.
This is how we did it:
The area is first measured out with a couple of sticks joined by a bit of string. One stick stays firm in the ground, the other moves around the circle. We played with a few different sizes thinking about access (both to the herb spiral and past it) and the number of bricks we had. We then leveled the soil a little and laid a thick layer of newspaper to inhibit any weeds.
On top of the newspaper we threw on wood chip. A lot of websites suggest gravel for drainage but I wasn’t keen to add stones to the soil, a hard thing to reverse, so we used woodchip. The bricks are then laid around in a spiral pattern with the soil added in to help with stability. We used a mixture of soils and manure.
It probably would have been wise to water in each layer as we went but this was a step we missed. On top of the soil we put in mulch and there you have it. A herb spiral ready for planting.
In terms of planting the idea is to plant sun loving plants on the northern side and shade tolerant plants on the southern. Water loving plants go toward the bottom and plants that can take drier conditions are planted towards the top.
All your herbs in one spot. The magic of permaculture design.