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Herbal Hugel Spiral of Randomness!  RSS feed

 
master steward
Posts: 6265
Location: Pacific Northwest
1877
cat duck fiber arts forest garden homestead hugelkultur kids cooking wood heat
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Late Summer Update:

  • The Parsley reseeded!


  • My chives and lovage are doing great, and I planted some walking onion topsets on the south and east sides (by the lovage, borage, chamomile, tarragon and echinacea). The walking onions are really growing well, which is really exciting for me (almost three years ago, I bought 30 walking onion topsets and planted them around my fruit trees. All but three died from the too-soggy soil or accidentally getting weeded. But, I replanted those three survivors in my keyhole bed, and they made lots of tiny topsets. And those topsets are all growing. I'm so happy I managed to save my walking onions from extinction, and I'm amazed at how well they are doing now that they are in raised beds. So much of growing a garden is just figuring out where exactly each plant likes to grow. I'm learning to plant things in various beds and microclimates. Many may fail, but once I find the place that works, I can grow more there!)


  • My sage, salad burnet and lemon balm are all filling out rather prettily. Of course, I really have no need for that much sage, and the burnet really isn't that great. Most of the year, the burnet is kind of dry and tough and doesn't taste like much (it's supposed to taste like cucumbers). The burnet also self-seeds, and I've had to weed it out of other areas of the herb spiral lest it take over there. I'm hoping it'll reseed in my yard. I'd much rather have burnet than grass growing there!


  • My chamomile is less than happy, and I don't know why. It's reseeding a little, but the main plant bloomed and died pretty early on. I'm wondering if that was maybe because I didn't harvest the flowers this year like I did last year. Hopefully it will rebound next year from the seedlings it made.


  • I ended up having to fence the herb spiral, as the ducks finally discovered they could get up there, and were happy destroying my plants. The fence isn't pretty, but it is functional... Come to think of it, the ducks probably found there way up there as a consequence of my own actions. For a while, I was putting their food on the weeds/grass right in front of the herb spiral, so they would "weed" it for me. That worked nicely, as they trampled and ate most of the plants so the herb spiral wasn't hidden behind weeds. But, that also got them a little too interested in the spiral. So, now there's a fence. It's not pretty, but it is functional!


  • All in all, I'm still really pleased with how the herb spiral is turning out! I've learned a lot through building and managing it, and I love watching it develop over the seasons and years!
    104_1556.JPG
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    View from the house (west). Look at that LOVELY fence I sloppily put up :D
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    View from the Northeast. I moved the fence to give a better view of the herbs...and the weeds, lol!
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    View from the top. It
     
    Nicole Alderman
    master steward
    Posts: 6265
    Location: Pacific Northwest
    1877
    cat duck fiber arts forest garden homestead hugelkultur kids cooking wood heat
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    And, here's a picture of the front without the fence, as well as a picture from the south side.
    104_1560.JPG
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    Picture from the front/west without the fence.
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    From the south...sorry about the fence in the way!
     
    Nicole Alderman
    master steward
    Posts: 6265
    Location: Pacific Northwest
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    cat duck fiber arts forest garden homestead hugelkultur kids cooking wood heat
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    Figure it's been a while since I updated. Hopefully these updates help people, because I know I often wish I knew how garden projects pan out years later. It's now been a little over two years since I finished building it.

    Anyway, it has been a wet, WET, WET year. All this rain, as well as all the freezing temps during winter made some of the rocks and urbanite slide around. I'm sure my inexperience in dry-stacking stones probably didn't help, either. Neither did the fact that, when I made the spiral I used wood to fill up the vertical space, a la hugel style. But, I didn't know that I needed to put soil between the logs and not just on them, so a LOT of settling has happened. Most of the issues occurred on the second "level" of the spiral here were some large gaps between soil and walls. These gaps, along with the cold temps, it probably what what killed off my rosemary.

    I rearranged the rocks a little to make the wall hopefully more sturdy, and filled in the gaps with soil from around my property.

    Update on the plants:

    Parsley is doing FANTASTIC. I literally had the whole parsley area carpeted by sprouting seeds. I thought it was a ground cover until I realized it was just an insane amount of parsley sprouts!

    Chive are also doing great. They came back and are already forming flowers.

    Lovage is also growing well .

    Lavender is hanging on. It's not doing fantastic, but half of it's roots were surrounded by air from the settling of the rocks, so I'm just glad it survived!

    Sage is also doing pretty good. I added more soil around it, as it lost a lot to settling.

    Elephant Garlic on the top of the spiral is growing! (I oddly seem to kill this pretty easily, so I'm happy it's growing)

    Lemon balm is also growing well!

    I think the echinacea is just now sprouting up.

    German Chamomile is silly. The first year it did fantastic. Last year it sprouted up but then got engulfed by self-heal that invaded. I tried to pull the self heal out, but that didn't help much. Now there's no chamomile growing where I planted it, but it sprouted up in the black pot next to it. I'm hoping that will do well and reseed more areas. I was really hoping for chamomile to start sprouting up in my yard, but no luck yet.

    I had also planted some walking onion bulbils by the lovage. I think I'd planted like 20 of them. Most grew last year, but only three came back this year, that I can find. It's still better than anywhere else I planted walking onion bulbils. These are the only ones of the 50+ bulbils I planted that survived. Why don't these plants like me more?

    Salad Burnet is doing well, even resprouting in the cracks between the rocks. The stuff only tastes good for a while, but I'm glad it's happy and I like to use it when it's young.

    Thyme is surviving. It's not taking over like thyme should, and I'm always afraid to harvest some because it just looks so sad. It's another one of those plants I wonder why it doesn't like growing here more!

    I tried again to plant Sweet Cicely. I see something ferny popping up, but it doesn't smell licorice-like at all. I really wish nurseries sold it around here, because I fear my attempts at sprouting it from seed will fail. (I planted some from seed last spring. They did nothing. Learned they needed cold-stratification and finally kicked my rear in gear in put some out in January. I also stuck some in the fridge for three months. I'm hoping at least ONE will sprout for me!)

    Dandelions sprouted in the bed by their merry self, and I enjoy using their leaves in my cooking and my three year old loves eating their flowers.

    As for the evil creeping buttercup, picking off every leaf I see seems to be working pretty well. Here's hoping my success continues.

    I need to plant dill and fennel! I'd entirely forgotten until reviewing this thread that I wanted that growing here. I'm still waiting to see if the borage comes back. It came back really late last year, growing mostly in the cracks between the rocks...

    And now for pictures! These are not beautified in any way. This is what my herb spiral looks like from "normal" maintenance (i.e. I ripped out some grass around the spiral and threw it to the ducks and I stop weeds from coming in and taking over. I "clean up" dead plants by chopping & dropping them. I added some coffee grounds and leaves for mulch.) It's not pretty, but it is reality!
    Herb-Spiral-Top.jpg
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    View from above. This picture is always hard to take due to my diminutive stature!
     
    Nicole Alderman
    master steward
    Posts: 6265
    Location: Pacific Northwest
    1877
    cat duck fiber arts forest garden homestead hugelkultur kids cooking wood heat
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    My internet is apparently too lame for me to post all three pictures in one post...
    Herb-Spiral-West-Side.jpg
    [Thumbnail for Herb-Spiral-West-Side.jpg]
    Herb Spiral from front/West-facing side. I love sitting on the urbanite slab in the front--We get a lot of use out of it!
    Herb-Spiral-North-Side.jpg
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    Herb Spiral from the north-facing side. This is the side we use from the most (parsley, chives, lovage)
     
    Posts: 248
    Location: Ellisforde, WA
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    I read somewhere that Sweet Cicely likes morning Sun and afternoon shade. Try planting it on the east side, maybe that will work.
     
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    Using what you've got is a beautiful way to go. And you knocked it out of the park! You plamned and plotted and planted and planned...and plotted some more. What you did was masterful gardening and high art. A lovely garden.
     
    Nicole Alderman
    master steward
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    Liz Hoxie wrote:I read somewhere that Sweet Cicely likes morning Sun and afternoon shade. Try planting it on the east side, maybe that will work.



    I never did update! I had put some seeds in sand in the fridge and then planted them out this spring in hopes of them sprouting. And, I finally got success! Some sprouted in the herb spiral (I planted them on the north-east side), and some also sprouted under my apple trees, and another sprouted in a garden bed where it gets morning sun and evening shade (I hoped that by planting in various area one might sprout and succeed). Interestingly enough, the sweet cicily that is doing the best is on the eastern side of one of my apple trees that I mulched with wood chips and duck bedding. I'm so thrilled that after so many years of waiting, I finally got not one, but FOUR different sweet cicily plants. Thank you for your suggestion of planting them on the eastern side!

    Tyler Manahan wrote: Using what you've got is a beautiful way to go. And you knocked it out of the park! You planned and plotted and planted and planned...and plotted some more. What you did was masterful gardening and high art. A lovely garden.



    Aww, thank you! I hope by posting pictures and updates, I can inspire others to make herb spirals, and hopefully save them from making my mistakes.

    Speaking of, I'll try sometime in the next few days to go and take some more pictures to give another update!
     
    Liz Hoxie
    Posts: 248
    Location: Ellisforde, WA
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    Glad to hear that planting the sweet cicely on the east side helped!
    Got any hints for lemon balm? Mine looks great all summer, but doesn't make it to spring. Next time I get some, I'll plant it where it's protected from the north wind. Being on the west side doesn't seem to bother it.
     
    Nicole Alderman
    master steward
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    Hmm, mine didn't have any problem. It died down in the winter, but came right back come spring. It's smack dab on the top, most-exposed portion of the spiral. But, we also really don't get that much wind here (there's trees all around my property, and we're on the slope of a hill). And, I don't think we're nearly as cold here. Coldest we get--every few years--is maybe zero. I think we got down to 10F last winter. I'm zone 7b/8a. Maybe yours gets too cold with both the wind and colder temps? So maybe a more sheltered place, or maybe surrounded by some nice rocks, or maybe mulch it during the winter?
     
    Liz Hoxie
    Posts: 248
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    Next time I get it I'm going to plant it where it is blocked from the wind. I mulched it last year, but that didn't work. We live in an area that seems like a wind tunnel. The north wind feels like it has ice chips in it and the south wind crosses snowy mountains and then the river before it gets here. FUN!
     
    Nicole Alderman
    master steward
    Posts: 6265
    Location: Pacific Northwest
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    Wowsers! At least laundry probably dries a lot faster with all that wind (mine takes eternity, even in the summer. I don't even try to dry outside during the fall and winter--it just stays wet, no matter how long it's up!)
     
    Liz Hoxie
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    You're right, laundry does dry fast and the days are so long in the summer that I can get several loads done per day. The only problem is that if the temperature is below 45°, I have to hang them in the house; they won't even freeze dry on the line. We just make sure there's enough sheets and towels to get us through winter, then I play catch-up in the spring and keep up until the rains start in September. After the rains start, I have to pick and choose my nice hanging days.
     
    pollinator
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    Location: mountains of Tennessee
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    So glad I read this. Been on my radar for a week or two. The name initially caught my attention. Been gardening seriously for about 15 years. I don't watch (or own) TV. I read about plants & critters, & rocket stoves, & passive heating, etc instead. Have quite a few master gardener friends. How is it that I've never heard of herb spirals? Maybe it was stored in a dark corner of some now defunct brain cells. Been away from home internet & permies.com for a few years but I doubt it's a new technique. Probably ancient, except perhaps the hugeling. Just happen to have a large pile of fresh wood chips & plenty of bricks. Starting a new traditional veggie garden this year too. (ignore the Seminole Pumpkins growing up the dead trees) This will be a very nice addition. A few years ago I had a circular garden. Loved it. This is even better ... 3D herbs. Bee season is rapidly approaching so no time to start immediately. But soon. Real soon. btw bees love borage!!!

    thank you thank you thank you
     
    Nicole Alderman
    master steward
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    Now that spring is helping all my herbs pop back up, I thought I'd share some pictures from today. It's been just over three years since I made this spiral, and my little girl is now as old as my son was in our first pictures. Here's my little guy helping build it, three years ago:


    and here he is, now, with my little girl, who's as old as he was in that last picture!


    Here's the north side of the spiral, which is doing fantastic! The kids LOVE the chives, the parsley keeps reseeding and the lovage is thriving and both are perfect for soups. The dandelions that seeded in here are perfect for tea, and my son LOVES to munch on the flowers. And, look at my son's perfect squat! I love how nimble he is!


    Here's a view from the top, complete with little fingers reaching for dandelions. The lemon balm is doing great, garlic is popping up and so is the echinacea. My new rosemary plant also seems to be doing well. The lavender is hanging on and the salad burnet is reseeding everywhere.


    And, here's one more view from the front, with my little girl fisting chives into her mouth
     
    pollinator
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    That's such a cute update post.  If I didn't know that the top picture was from three years ago, I would think that it was the same child from behind.  They both have those curls at the bottom.  It seems your spiral is doing great.  Is there anything that you would have done differently?
     
    Nicole Alderman
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    William Wallace wrote:That's such a cute update post.  If I didn't know that the top picture was from three years ago, I would think that it was the same child from behind.  They both have those curls at the bottom.  It seems your spiral is doing great.



    Now that I look at it, I think they're even wearing the same pair of pants!

     Is there anything that you would have done differently?



    The only thing I'd do differently is to have packed the dirt between the logs better. I was rather new to making hugels when I made this, and didn't know that the dirt had to be packed amongst the wood to help prevent settling. As it is, the top portion ended up settling about a foot! I had to fill it in with a lot more soil. Thankfully, everything survived the addition of the soil, but it was a pain!
     
    Posts: 113
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    I love that you were able to find some rocks that have moss on them and included there - it makes it feel like the Urbanite is in active decay, and has slowly been eaten by the forces nature and returning to it's original state - poetic justice!
     
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