It was years and years ago that I built an herb spiral in our backyard, but a reader recently asked me for an update on the project. But first, what the heck is an herb spiral?

Our original herb spiral design

An herb spiral is a popular permaculture project that incorporates micro-climates into the design. You begin by creating a mound of soil and then spiral rocks up the mound. Herbs get placed according to their micro-climate needs. Coiling the plants up into a spiral also saves space. Our original design is pictured above, but read my past post for specific details about the project.

Heat-loving herbs should be planted on the western side of the mound where they can get hot afternoon sun. Cooler, shade-tolerant herbs like chives should get planted on the back, north-facing side where they get indirect light. Some people create a small pond on the north side to grow watercress.

North side chives

The mounds I made initially for our herb spirals seemed huge! But after five years, you hardly notice any height difference in the garden. What you do notice is a wild jungle of plants that has devoured the rocks that were once visible.

I kept the herbs watered for the first couple years to get them established. Once the perennial herbs took hold, they are drought-tolerant and very hardy. Almost no maintenance has been done since, except for some light pruning when we need to harvest the herbs for cooking.

East side: oregano, thyme, rosemary

The annual herbs, like calendula and coriander, were pushed out by the perennials over time. A heavy trim on the herb spiral would make room for those annuals again. The herb spiral has become a great evergreen component to our garden that requires very little maintenance, but provides us with delicious herbs all year.

West side: purple sage, echinacea, oregano

Thanks Amanda for asking for an update! Are you guys incorporating any permaculture techniques into your homestead? Are there other updates you have been dying to read about?

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Written by Renee Wilkinson