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Nothing beats fresh herbs, which you can't get anywhere fresher than from your own garden. You don't need a lot of space if you create a herb snail or herb spiral. With the right know-how, a few building materials and optimal herb planting, you can be sure of year-round harvests and also create a pretty eye-catcher in the garden. These building and planting instructions show you how.
- Herb snails also suitable for the small space in the garden
- various site conditions from shade to sunny
- with an integrated pond as a relaxing eye-catcher
- versatile planting possible
- increasing accumulation of soil for different plant requirements
- suitable for almost all types of herbs
- can be used to overwinter frost-resistant herbs
There is no compromise when it comes to fresh herbs that give every meal that extra special something. The potted herbs from the supermarket usually only last a short time if they are cultivated quickly and inexpensively for purely commercial reasons.
So why not create your own herb bed and always have the freshest herbs at hand? The herb spiral offers an optimal and, above all, space-saving solution. Read here how to plant them correctly, including some tips to achieve the best crop yields.
In general, it is an advantage if you choose a location that is close to the kitchen so that you can quickly get to the herbs while cooking. The location should meet the requirements of the herbs that you want to plant or sow.
It is best if the front of the herb snail faces south, in order to create sunny and shady spots inside the bed snail and to be able to meet the different light requirements of the different types of herbs. The wall, which provides shade to the area below, provides a shady spot.
In addition, the location should be sheltered from the wind so that they can still grow when the first cold winds ring in in autumn and the usually fine twigs do not snap off in strong gusts.
Basically, there should be a mix of settled, dense, but permeable soil. You can achieve this by filling the herb snail with soil and then letting it rest for a few weeks or months. It is advisable to fill the herb spiral with soil in autumn and let it sink until spring. If necessary, soil must be refilled if the existing soil has sunk too deep. Otherwise, the soil conditions depend on the respective zone.
Floor of the First Zone
- in the first zone, the soil should be very rich in humus and nutrients
- in consistency it is kept very moist to wet
Floor of the Second Zone
- in the second zone, the nutrient content is lower than that of the first zone
- the soil should only have moderate moisture
Third Zone Floor
- in the third zone, moisture and dryness alternate with regular watering
- the soil should be water-permeable and loose
- a low nutrient content should be given
Floor of the Fourth Zone
- in the fourth zone, the soil should have a good amount of lime and even increase in lime at the end of the herb spiral
- A soil-sand mixture is ideal, this stores water and only supplies the herbs when they need water
The nutrient content should decrease evenly in nutrients from the first zone to the top zone, thus enriching the soil in the lower area with compost.
Planning a herbal spiral
Build and plant a herb spiral
Fresh kitchen herbs are not only indispensable for the taste, but also offer a very decorative sight, especially in a herb snail, which is why more and more garden owners are opting for this type of herb beds.
Putting it on is easy once you know how. There are just a few details that need to be taken care of to ensure that everything runs smoothly and that your efforts are rewarded with your new fresh herbs thriving.
The spiral is divided into four zones so that numerous types of herbs can be accommodated in the spiral, regardless of their soil conditions.
The first zone begins with the lower snail opening, where the earth is lowest. This area becomes the humid wet zone. It is ideal to create a small pond in this area so that a kind of swamp area is created or the roots can be completely soaked and moisture-loving herbal plants can develop well. The first zone is also considered the nutrient-rich level. Planting can be done with the following herbs, for example.
- stream exercise
- water mint
The second zone transitions from the wet zone to the first part of the middle floor. This zone has an average nutrient content, is kept moderately moist and offers partially shaded to shaded planting sites. These locations are suitable for, among others, the following listed.
- mustard green
- Nutmeg, Spoonwort and Celery Herb
- lady's mantle
- Wild garlic and comfrey should be planted in shady areas
- Lovage and peppermint should be higher on the end as their roots go deeper into the soil
The third zone should end approximately at the level of the screw entrance. In this area of the herb spiral, the soil should be calcareous. This is the perfect spot for herbal plants that like it sunny, warm and slightly humid, such as the following.
- garden cress and nasturtium
- St. John's and camphor herb
- chamomile and fennel
- lemon balm
The end is set by the Mediterranean zone, which extends to the highest point of the herb snail. This is where the highest lime content can be found. The soil should always be slightly dry. The top area needs many hours of sun. The following types of herbs thrive on this floor.
- Mountain bean, olive and cola herb
- Lavender should finish, as this should have the highest lime content it needs
Once the optimal location has been found, the selected area of soil must be cleaned and the remains of roots removed as far as possible.
Determine the correct orientation. It is optimal if the beginning of the bottom floor faces south. Now place the first wooden peg here. Please note that the wooden pegs are correspondingly high according to the increasing bed height and that they are the final height of the spiral at the top end.
To determine the size of your herb snail, you should roughly know how many herb plants you want to sow or plant. Of course, the more herbs you want to plant, the bigger the herb spiral has to be. The ideal size is 2.50 meters in diameter. A central height of about 80 centimeters with this average is recommended. You can of course deviate from this according to your own ideas.
Once you have an approximate idea of the size, place more wooden pegs in such a way that you get a spiral from the outside in. In the form of a herb snail bed, you can orientate yourself on that of a snail shell. The last peg is to be set in the middle of the spiral.
Provide seed packets or plants
It is helpful if you already have the seed bags or plants at hand. You can distribute them on the smooth floor in the desired order and form of the spiral according to your location and floor requirements. This gives you a better idea of how big your herb spiral should be at least and you can move the wooden pegs already set to make the herb spiral larger or smaller. Don't forget to keep the snail shell shape, the southern alignment point, and the center.
Then connect the wooden pegs with a string so that a line becomes visible. Make sure that the cord has an ascending course that already marks the individual floor heights. If you tie the cord around all the wooden pegs at the same height, you will miss the line orientation in the middle and upper area when building the herb spiral.
Then dig up the soil inside the herb snail about a spade length deep. Make sure that you leave out the areas of earth where the wooden pegs are stuck. Put a drain on the ground. To do this, pour a two centimeter thick layer of quartz sand or gravel into the ditch. Mix the excavated soil with gravel and use it to fill the excavated soil again.
In addition to the gravel, the marking cord and the wooden pegs that rise evenly in height, you need building materials for the actual construction of the decorative herb bed in a spiral shape.
It's a good idea to buy these after the prep work is done so you can get an idea of how much material you'll need, especially for the walls. If you present the dimensions to your trusted retailer, they will be happy to help determine the amount of material.
As materials you need:
- additional gravel for raising the earth from bottom to top
- Concrete, natural or bricks for the spiral wall construction
- possibly mortar
- Gravel to lay another drainage in the top area
- Pebbles for the first and second zone, to protect against rapid dehydration
You don't necessarily have to buy new material in stores. Broken building blocks are also available on construction sites, which are no longer used there. Instead of gravel to increase the floor, you can also use rubble from a construction site and save money.
Build a herb spiral
The ground plan is set by the wall. For this purpose, professional masonry with cement or mortar as well as one in dry construction can be used. When arranging and aligning the stones, it is important that they always have a slight inward inclination.
In the dry construction method, lay a layer of stones along the previously stretched cord and fill the interior with gravel or earth. Note that there must already be an incline here as a result of the filling.
If the slope reaches the height of the stone, you must start with the second row of stones at the latest. Here, too, you fill up the soil again with an increasing level. Continue like this until you have reached a height of about 80 centimeters in the middle/at the top end of the spiral.
Tip: When you get to the higher elevations, it's a good idea to put gravel here before you fill in soil to prevent waterlogging from rain or overwatering.
If you want to create a small pond, leave out part of the lower area with soil and lay a pond liner instead of the soil or integrate a finished pond basin. Then fill the pond with larger pebbles so high that a residual height of between five and ten centimeters remains. This water level is usually sufficient for all wet-loving herb plants.
When the construction of your herb spiral is finished, leave it for at least six to eight weeks, preferably three months, before you start planting. During this time the earth settles. Don't forget to pay attention to the different soil conditions when piling up the earth. These are described in the corresponding section above.
The official start of the season for early or mature herbs is at the beginning of May, while the sowing and young plants should only be planted or sown in the herb snail after the Ice Saints from mid-May.
After that, you can plant and transplant up to and including July. After that, only fast-growing herbs such as sage should be planted in the spiral bed so that they can be harvested before the cold snap.
Always make sure that all zones of your bed snail have the ideal humidity that meets the respective requirements of the herbs.
- in the dry zone at the top water only occasionally
- here the surface of the earth is allowed to dry out for a few days
- the third zone is poured when the surface of the earth can be dented up to a maximum of two centimeters
- the herb plants in the second zone must be kept wetter
- the surface of the earth should never dry out
- watering in the lowest wet zone is usually unnecessary if a pond is integrated
- however, water evaporates here, especially on hot summer days
- the water level must always be checked here
- if there is no pond, it must be watered generously, daily in summer
After new construction of a herb snail, the herb plants do not need any additional fertilizer for high crop yields in the first year. If the different nutrient contents per zone were taken into account when creating the spiral bed, the supply is sufficient for the time being. Young plants are generally not fertilized in the first year.
From the second year, compost or a nutrient-rich liquid fertilizer can be given. However, the need for nutrients decreases from bottom to top and accordingly in the Mediterranean zone fertilizer should be used sparingly or not at all. The optimal times for fertilizing are spring and autumn.