Whether you’re a city mouse or a country mouse — with a high-rise patio or 1000 acres — building an herb spiral near your kitchen allows you to partake in the sustainable permaculture revolution and have fresh organic culinary herbs at your fingertips. An herb spiral is a compact vertical garden built on specific principles allowing for individualized management of wind and water flow to create the ideal garden in a limited amount of space.
The spiral is a natural form that provides an efficient method for managing space, storing and sorting. Using the natural universal design of a spiral, the forces of gravity and water flow are utilized to their fullest allowing for proper drainage downhill. Herbs that thrive on drier soils live at the top, whereas those needing more moisture reside at the bottom where water collects. This form allows for planting of a widely diverse number of plants, and creates natural, sunny and shady areas — a perfect miniature microclimate landscape environment. The herb spiral as a permaculture form that allows you to create your own ecosystem and become self sufficient. The format can be adapted to large gardens if space is available.
Stone or block building materials allow for retention of heat and insulate plants in colder weather or at night, while acting as the backbone for the structure. Collect water at the bottom and have a small fish or frog pond or even a bog and grow edible water plants. An herb spiral can be built even on a concrete foundation and filled with the richest biodynamic, organic earth to support any plants included.
The spiral should always be built to move in the direction of water drainage in whatever hemisphere it’s located in — for example, in the Northern hemisphere, water runs off in a clockwise direction and the opposite is true for the Southern hemisphere. This allows for optimal positioning of the pond at the bottom and reduces evaporation. The spiral can be built as a round or oval shape to take advantage of the movement of summer sunlight.