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When NOT to use an herb spiral

 
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Location: Piedmont, NC
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I have read so many things about herb spirals and have seen pictures that seem to defy the point of an herb spiral.  The things an herb spiral does best is to provide a lot of herbs, with unique micro climates (when done right), in a small space conveniently located to the kitchen door.  Bill Mollison did one that was about 6 feet wide and 3 feet tall to provide dry places, wet places, sunny places and shady places, often incorporating a frog pond for pest control.

My husband and I have recently made ourselves an herb garden in a place convenient to the kitchen by turning my front flower bed on the North side of the house into an herb/flower bed.  Simply observing the shade patterns during the day can show you where to put the shade loving plants, the half shade plants and the sun loving plants.  As we have about 13 acres, the space was not an issue.  It is important to figure out what is YOUR individual limiting factors.  To take more advantage of the sun, I rounded out the edge beyond the shady side.  

We should be careful not to participate in things just because they are popular.  Always consider the "why" and how it applies to you.
 
pollinator
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Sherri Lynn wrote:

We should be careful not to participate in things just because they are popular.



I think everyone making a hugel mound should read this line.
 
steward
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I hear you.  Within 40 feet of my house I have microclimates that go from full shade/cool to full sun/hot/dry.  From part shade/wet to part shade/dry.  Why build a microclimate when they already exist.  I realize this isn't the case for everyone so build a spiral if it makes sense.  But first consider if you might already have them around your house...
 
Mother Tree
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I think herb spirals are a great tool to teach about micro-climates.  

But like most tools, they end up getting used for jobs that they aren't necessarily suited for.  It's not the fault of the tool, we just need to hand more tools out and teach people how to use them, too.
 
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We built an herb spiral along the main walkway between the house and garden. Did we have to build one for maximum yield? No. Did my wife want one? Absolutely. Enough to ask for it for her Mother's Day gift.

Does the unique look of it spark discussion with visitors where a "bed full of herbs" wouldn't as often. EVERY TIME!

Sometimes doing things is about creating opportunities as much as results.

You have to remember that we all know what an herb spiral is and can recognize the popularity and "fad".  But non-"choir members" have probably never seen one and it could be the introduction to doing things a little different from now on.....

Just my thoughts.
 
Sherri Lynn
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I am not against herb spirals.  On the contrary, I think they are pure genius.  I just think somewhere along the way the connection as to the "why" may have been lost.

The concepts behind the herb spiral are what I used to put in my herb bed, paying attention to the micro climates.  Here is a picture of my new mini frog pond, among the bed, in the shade, and to catch water off of the roof:






Mini-frog-pond.jpg
[Thumbnail for Mini-frog-pond.jpg]
 
gardener
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I don't have an herb spiral and I won't. Most herbs have a strong fragrance that can be used throughout the yard/garden to confuse and ward off pests and provide diversity. Putting them all together doesn't offer diversity contrast, because so many of them are related to each other but not to garden vegetables nor fruit trees.  Putting them all in one place concentrates the aroma into one place, so the effect is no longer useful.  I think they're cute but not helpful ecologically.
John S
PDX OR
 
pollinator
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Todd Parr wrote:

Sherri Lynn wrote:

We should be careful not to participate in things just because they are popular.



I think everyone making a hugel mound should read this line.



All the herb spirals I have seen are useless, especially when compared to the amount of work they needed. Apart from photos of big ones, I have never seen one that really creates a micro climates, as they are never high enough compared to the angle of the sun. I have even never seen that the slopes helped for growin more in one place.

And about those humps that I call "mice buildings near their restaurants", same thing, I am destroying mine now... Soil is falling on the sides, and it was full of galeries. Now I am burying the wood, but will never make hills again.

If one wants to do those things for pleasure and esthetics, well, do! As long as we are rich, in money or time, we can fancy what we want.
 
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