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Create a herb spiral
Herbs in the garden can be used in many ways. In the kitchen they add that special spice to dishes, when dried they are suitable for decorative purposes, among other things, and in the garden itself they spread their aroma, attract insects such as bees and bumblebees and drive away pests in a completely natural way. Some herbs love a sunny and dry location, while others prefer slightly shady and more humid places. With a herb spiral, you can offer each herb the habitat that suits it.
For the creation of a herb sp iral, it is best to choose a sunny place that has a diameter of about three meters. A spiral of this size and with a height of about 80 centimeters provides enough space for planting a dozen different plants.
The ground plan of the spiral, which should have approximately the shape of a snail shell with two turns, should be marked out on the ground with stakes and a taut string. Inside the spiral, excavate the soil to a depth of about a spade. The excavated area should be filled with a layer of coarse gravel about ten centimeters high, which will also serve as a foundation and drainage. Following the staked shape, now lay out a row of stones in a spiral. Then a layer of coarse gravel is applied to the gravel, the thickness of which should later be about 50 centimeters in the middle and taper off to the base of the spiral.
Now the spiral is built up layer by layer without mortar and filled with crushed stone. If you want to use natural stones for construction, they should be at least the size of a fist. For filling with soil, use mixtures that meet the needs of herbs. In the uppermost zone, half of the soil should be mixed with sand, and in the middle zones, the proportion of sand decreases towards the bottom. In the lower zone, you can add compost or humus-rich soil instead.
The planting of a herb spiral could look as follows: in the upper, sandy and dry area, rosemary, lavender, sage, thyme and marjoram thrive particularly well. In the middle, moderately dry area, cilantro, parsley, spicy fennel, tarragon and burnet can be grown. For the wetter area at the base of the spiral, chives, dill, lovage, lemon balm and mint are best. Different varieties of many species are available in nurseries, so you can create your own individual mix of herbs.
At the foot of the spiral, you can also create a small pond (info on pond calculation). For this purpose, you can use a ready-made pond form, which is available in specialized stores, or choose a version with foil. The depth of the pond should be about 40 centimeters, this should be taken into account when digging the necessary trough. In the trough, you put a five-centimeter layer of sand, on which the pond liner is laid. Then another layer of sand is applied to the liner. In the area of the pond is suitable to plant water mint and watercress.
To determine the length of the stretch that should be planted or the number of stones you need, you can either calculate the Archimedean spiral or dig out the base of the herb spiral, then lay a cord spiraling from the outside to the inside of the spiral.Then lay out a string in a spiral from the outside to the inside at the desired distance - taking into account that the stones also take up space on both sides - and then measure the distance with a tape measure. Once you have determined the distance, use our calculator to find out how many stones you need.
Fertilize with compost
To maintain the fertility of the soil in your herb spiral, nutrients must be introduced, as these are removed from the soil by vegetables, flowers and shrubs grown in the garden. A useful way to fertilize is to use compost, which is made from garden waste and other organic matter. This is a type of natural recycling. An autumn walk in the woods reveals the principle of this process: the falling leaves are crushed by larger soil creatures such as earthworms, snails, woodlice, etc., and then completely decomposed by fungi and bacteria. In the process, the organic substances are broken down into their mineral components, which in turn are absorbed and utilized by the plants via the roots as nutrients. The natural cycle is thus closed.
Various types of open and closed containers are suitable for composting. In any case, they should be placed on unsealed soil so that microorganisms can migrate. A location in partial shade is favorable. A compost silo with a cubic meter capacity is sufficient for a garden area of 300 to 400 square meters. Thermal composters turn organic waste into dark, nutritious compost particularly quickly. However, with a little craftsmanship, a silo for composting can also be built by yourself.
When creating a compost pile, you build a "foundation" of coarsely shredded branches and bulky plant parts to prevent waterlogging. On this foundation you can layer all organic waste, but always shredded and well mixed. After every 20 cm, sprinkle the whole with a little potting soil or compost from last year. The addition of rock flour prevents the formation of odors.
Suitable materials for composting are garden waste such as wilted flowers, shrubbery residues, shredded cuttings from hedges and shrubs, old soil from repotting, small amounts of leaves and grass cuttings. In addition, kitchen waste such as fruit, vegetables, potato peels, coffee grounds, and crushed eggshells can be added to the compost, as can small amounts of shredded corrugated cardboard and unprinted paper, and hair. Leftover meat, fish and cheese from the kitchen, diseased plants, rotten fruit, products made of plastic and any kind of solid waste do not belong in the compost.
The compost must always be well aerated, this is best done by shifting it around with a rake or similar device. When the bin is well filled, everything is covered with soil, straw or reeds. After six to eight months, the compost is ripe and smells like the forest floor after a rain shower.
Plants fertilized with compost humus are healthy, vigorous and resistant to pests and diseases. The fine-crumb mature compost can be used to grow seeds or potting soil. Semi-finished compost can also be used: In the fall, you can give plants a vigorous nutritional injection of semi-mature organic material applied to the surface.
Composting can reduce the amount of waste by 40% on average. Thus, you not only do something good for the plants in the garden but also make an important contribution to environmental protection.
Vegetables from your own garden
To complement a herb spiral in your own garden, it is also a good idea to grow your own vegetables.
Whether outdoors or in a greenhouse, growing and harvesting vegetables in your own garden is popular and fun. Except for purely ornamental gardens, there is an area in every garden where at least a few heads of lettuce, cucumbers, zucchini or cabbage varieties grow.
Some vegetables are very heat-dependent, such as cucumbers. For them, cultivation in a protected greenhouse is recommended. A greenhouse is also ideal for growing vegetable plants from seed, which are later planted outdoors.
Carrots and cabbage are suitable for sowing outdoors, as are onions, beans and celery. All varieties can be grown from seed, but care must be taken to ensure that the timing is right in each case. If you want to harvest lettuce or other vegetables as early as spring, you can prevent the plants from being damaged by late night frosts by sowing them in a cold frame. Tomatoes need a covered location, because heavy downpours do not do them good. Zucchinis thrive particularly well on a compost heap and, incidentally, their tendrils and flowers make for a more pleasing appearance.
If you want to grow vegetables, there are a few things to consider that have to do with the different nutritional needs of the plant families. For example, proper crop rotation should be followed when growing in order to get the highest possible yield. Basically, a distinction is made between strong eaters, medium eaters and weak eaters. When making the best use of beds, for example, weak growers such as beans or herbs can be cultivated in places in the garden where other varieties have already been harvested before, without introducing additional fertilizer.
When growing vegetables, it can be beneficial to combine certain types of vegetables with each other, i.e. to grow them in mixed cultivation. This mimics conditions in nature, where plants always grow together, complementing and helping each other. Mixed culture takes into account the different needs and growth habits of the various plants. Through scents and root excretions, plants promote each other and at the same time protect themselves from pests. The latter are irritated by strongly scented plants and do not find their food plants as easily as in monoculture cultivation.
Mixed-culture cultivation requires some fiddling at first, as an annual planting schedule must be established. Over time, however, a certain routine sets in, so that tried-and-true combinations can be grown in the same way over and over again. The initial effort is rewarded in the long run by lasting success, as pest control becomes largely unnecessary. Tables and books provide information on which plant combinations are beneficial. Classic examples include growing onions or garlic and strawberries together, carrots and onions or leeks, beans and savory, and cabbage and celery or tomatoes.
The worst enemies of the vegetable gardener are slugs. In order that the plants are not endangered by slug feeding, effective measures to control them are necessary. This does not necessarily require the use of chemicals: if you put boards on the paths in the bed, they collect on their underside and are easy to remove in the morning.
The combination of herb spiral and vegetables from own cultivation makes it possible - at least in spring, summer and autumn - to eat healthy, versatile and close to nature, saving quite a lot of money.
Sowing vegetables and flowers
Watching seeds of flowers and vegetables develop into seedlings and plants is fun and also cheaper than buying pre-grown plants. Many varieties are also not readily available as young plants. If you sow plants, you provide the offspring for the bed and for hanging baskets, tubs and pots.
They can be grown at home on a windowsill or in a cold frame or greenhouse. The ideal ratio between temperature and brightness is determined mainly by the right timing. If the seeds are sown too early and the seedlings are placed in pots or boxes on a warm windowsill, but the sunlight is not yet sufficient to provide the plants with sufficient light, the result will be thin, long stems with small and pale leaves. One rule is that sowing should not be done before the first of March.
For sowing vegetables and flowers should use a special sowing soil. This is particularly low in nutrients and thus stimulates the formation of many roots. Fine seeds are best sown in shallow trays; for coarser-grained seeds, you can also put three or four seeds together in a small pot. This makes it easier to separate tomatoes, for example. Particularly fine seeds can be easily distributed evenly by mixing them with sand and sprinkling the mixture over the seedbed.
When sowing on a windowsill, the growing containers should be covered because of the dry air. Special containers have a transparent lid that allows light to pass through and prevents heavy evaporation. The growing boxes should be aired daily for a short period of time to prevent the development of mold.
For some plant species, the seeds have special requirements that must be met in order for them to germinate. So-called light germinators are usually very small seeds that need a certain amount of light to trigger the germination impulse. These varieties should only be pressed on after sowing and not covered with soil. Dark germinators, on the other hand, require darkness and should therefore be covered with a layer of soil several centimeters thick. Cold germinators are perennials and woody plants that require a longer stay in a place with low temperatures, so that germination is not too sparse. You can prevent germination inhibition by keeping the seeds of the plants in question in the refrigerator for a few weeks.
When the cotyledons and the first true leaves have formed on the seedlings, it is time to prick the plantlets. The plants should not be planted outdoors until after the Ice Saints, so that surprising night frosts do not ruin the success of cultivation. Plants grown on a windowsill are sensitive to strong sunlight and excessive temperature changes. Therefore, after planting in a bed or container, suitable shading measures should be taken.