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For hobby gardeners who like to use their own herbs while cooking and have a little space in the garden, a herbal snail, also called herbal spiral or spice snail, is just the thing. Because it provides optimal conditions for the cultivation of many different herbs and is also a real eye-catcher in the garden. A herbal spiral can be built from a variety of materials. Whether from bricks, natural stone or impregnated wood - the choice of material can be made entirely according to your own taste.
- other names: herbal spiral, spice slug
- three-dimensional bed for different herbs
- simulates different climate zones
- offers different site conditions
- requires full sun
- Combination of annual, biennial and perennial herbs
A herbal snail can be divided into four different zones, whereby the transitions between the individual areas run fluently. This creates a variety of site conditions for the individual plants. If you have a pond in the garden, it is best to place your herb spiral north of the pond shore. The water ensures a good microclimate (high humidity).
1. Dry zone (Mediterranean zone, Mediterranean zone)
At the top of the herb snail plants get the most hours of sunshine. In addition, the water can drain well in the raised area. Sun-hungry Mediterranean herbs feel good here.
- full sun
- Soil well permeable to water (containing sand)
- rather lean (low nutrients)
- pH value: neutral to slightly calcareous
This zone is slightly humus rich and provides shade for the herbs for a few hours a day. The plants that grow here have a slightly higher nutrient requirement, so it's a good idea to enrich the soil with compost.
- partially shaded to sunny
- slightly humic soil
- good water permeability
- ideal for local herbs
The further the zones in the herb snail move downwards, the more moist and humusous the soil becomes. Again, the plants are offered a partially shaded location.
- sunny to partially shaded
- Soil permeable to water
- better water storage capacity than upper zones
- nutrient-rich (humos)
Ideally, the herb spiral ends in a partially shaded area in the west or east (peak in the south). Here, all plants find ideal site conditions that prefer a moist, nutrient-rich soil.
- partial shade
- good water storage capacity in the ground
A herb snail is best built on a sheltered open space in the garden. It has proven to be very convenient if the herb spiral is as close as possible to the kitchen, so that the paths (especially in bad weather) are not too far. A herbal snail can be built from a variety of materials.
A weather-resistant and stable variant is composed of stones. These store the heat well and protect the sensitive roots on cold days from damage. A herbal snail made of stones can be easily built by yourself. Required materials:
- enough stones for the drywall
- Gravel or gravel (for drainage)
- Garden soil, compost, sand
- Spade and shovel
- String and two sticks
Once the right, full sun is found and all materials are concerned, it can go to building the herbal spiral. The majority of herbs require a lot of light and heat. Also, the plant must not be too small, so that the plants have enough space to unfold. Depending on the size of the garden, you should plan at least two to three square meters for a herb snail. The height then depends on the base of the herb snail. The larger the floor area, the higher the herbal spiral can be built.
Step 1: Preparation of the soil
Few people can draw circles freehand. Therefore it is recommended to use a compass for the layout of the herb snail.
- String (length: slightly more than the diameter of the herb snail)
- two sticks
- Tie string to the sticks
- stick a stick in the middle of the later herb spiral
- Tension the string
- Draw a circle around the first stake with the other stick
- Mark center
- Earth about a spade deep dig
The shape of the herb snail is, as the name implies, based on the shape of a snail's shell or spiral. The herbal snail should later open to the south and should have at least two turns.
2nd step: create drainage
So that the water can later be well drained from the herb snail, it is advisable to create a drainage during the erection. This consists of a layer of gravel or chippings about ten centimeters high.
Tip: The best way to smooth the surface is to use a rake or the back of a broom to make the stones rest on a flat surface.
3rd step: build a wall
Now the first row of stones is laid. This should start for stability reasons slightly below the normal ground level. The lower row of stones consists of a spiral that opens to the south and has two turns. It is recommended to build a drywall (without mortar). Such a wall looks much more natural and provides an additional drainage option. For a drywall stones are suitable, which have relatively straight side surfaces. Very round shapes or small stones offer too little support. First, a part of the wall is first built.
- align elongated stones in the direction of the middle of the screw (provides more stability)
- Pull stones up in a staircase
- there should be enough space for the plants between the turns
- avoid a stone on each row from the wet zone
- the wall remains flat on the outside
- further to the middle it rises
- in the middle is the highest point
- make sure that there is no imbalance of the wall to the outside
- Wall tend to lean inwards a bit
If the inner part of the drywall is about 50 centimeters high (knee high), the herb snail should first be filled into parts.
- fill the inside roughly 50 centimeters high coarse gravel
- flatten the gravel layer outwards
- do not pour in ballast in the last half turn (wet zone)
- Building the wall step by step with stones and earth
- use mixtures of sand, soil and compost for the different zones
- Add at least 50% sand in the middle
- downwards the sand content decreases
- downwards, the compost and soil content is steadily increasing
Before planting the herbs, wait a bit longer for the soil to settle. It's best to let some rainy days pass. Alternatively, the herb snail can also be carefully sprayed with the garden hose or moistened with the lawn sprinkler. If necessary, earth must now be refilled.
Plant the herb snail
The ideal time to plant a herbal spiral is spring. Especially Mediterranean herbs are a bit sensitive to frost, when they are set in the field very late in the year. The herbs can be bought ready in the pot or pulled from seeds themselves.
1. Mediterranean zone
In the middle (upper) area of the herb snail, Mediterranean herbs with high light requirements feel good, but they prefer to be a bit drier:
- Provence lavender
- curry plant
Here, all herbs can be planted, which thrive in normal garden soil.
- lemon balm
- spice fennel
3. Wet fresh zone
- wild garlic
All herbs that prefer a bit more moist and shady have found an ideal location in this area. These include:
- wild garlic
These herbs do not match
While some herbs complement each other quite well, such as chives and garlic, it looks bad in other combinations. Do not match:
- Parsley and chives or borage
- Basil, marjoram and dill
- Dill and sage
- Caraway and fennel
- Chervil and coriander
A herbal spiral can be easily built from a variety of materials or bought ready in the hardware store. Important when planting a herbal snail is always a full sun and good drainage. The soil contains less and less sand from top to bottom, but more compost and soil. In a herbal snail, the most diverse herbs can be planted or seeded. However, it is always to pay attention to the site claims and compatibility with the neighbors.