Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Herb Spiral

It was my Mums Birthday back in March, so I decided to build her a herb spiral on a useless patch of dirt next to their shed. The ground was gravelly from being levelled over twenty years ago for the Shed building pad. Nothing really grew on in because the soil was so compacted. So it really was the perfect place for a herb spiral, as close to the house as possible.

I gathered a second pile of bricks and painted them with terracotta paving paint. Gigi was able to help out with the painting and she loved it. By the end, all the bricks were painted, as was the concrete path, some grass and Gigi. To minimise the ugliness of the shed a screwed some old bamboo screening (originally from Bunnings, but purchased second hand from a garage sale) onto the shed.

I marked out the herb spiral area with sticks (easier to adjust and move), then put down several layers of newspaper to reduce weed growth and then marked out the spiral with bricks. I then stacked the bricks as shown for added support. On the bottom several layers, I put down branches, sticks and leaves almost to the height of the second layer of bricks. I did this to reduce the amount of dirt I'd need to use. Later I discovered that the practice of adding sticks/logs/branches to make a raised garden is known as  Hugelkultur (http://www.richsoil.com/hugelkultur/) and is widely practiced as part of the permaculture movement. 



In the centre of the Spiral I placed an old PVC pipe to act as an in-situ compost bin (also painted with paver paint). I drilled holes along the length of the pipe and pushed it in between the sticks so it would stay upright. The idea is to add scraps and water to the pipe, which will decompose and add nutrients to the Herb Spiral.

On top of the sticks and branches, I piled soil and then planted my herbs. At the top of the spiral is Basil and Rosemary, followed by Oregano and Mint. Chives and more Basil are at the mid level, with Dill, Gota Kula, Sorrel and Parsley at the bottom level, which is also the southern side of the Spiral.




At the end I mulched the whole thing with Sugar Cane Mulch and added a few pots of Lemongrass in front of the bamboo screen. As the soil settles and the branches decompose, I may have to top up with more soil. I also planted some Marigolds in the brick holes as a bug repellent and because they look pretty.

I'm pretty happy with the end result and my Mum was super happy with her Herb Spiral. My Dad has been trying lots of different combinations to his cooking.

The Herb Spiral about three weeks later