Making the spiral

It started off as a grass lawn, nothing else. We began eating away at it, to transform and replace it with an eatable garden. Having a bit of green grass to lay on is ok, but it’s really a waste of water and energy. Why water something and keep cutting it when it offers nothing but color. Yes yes, it’s better than cement, but there are much better uses of the land.

The first thing we did in our new house was to plant some trees: olive, palm, fig, grape, bamboo, and berry shrubs. Then came the herbs along the edges – which were later replaced with anti-mosquito plants (like catnip and lemon-mint – both lovely for tea.) The herbs – along with some vegetables and flowers moved to the spiral. 

An (herb) spiral could be built from all kinds of material: bricks, stones, wood, or anything else, like cans or jars. Some people quickly go out to buy materials when they want to make anything, they want perfect planks of wood and pretty stones. Waste of time and money. Shopping should be a last resort. Just look around your land or your cellar and be open to the non-conventional. Sometimes it is simply essential to buy new material (like when laying electricity pipes and wires for example,) but for most other things, forget it. Be creative with what you have. For me, that’s the most fun part.

We had a lot of grindtegelstiles [which in English might be something like cement tiles.] Those were left over at the edge of the forest by the former owner of the house. They were bulky and terribly heavy. They needed to be moved to a permanent location. You don’t want to have to keep moving heavy things around. We broke some of the tiles into two or three pieces, and used those to make the spiral. Leading to it, and providing it with a frame, were tiles in full size. We wanted it to look like an eye – if you’re looking from the sky.

The suggested diameter size of a spiral is 1.5 meters, with 0.5 meter being minimum and 3 meter being the max. The idea is to be able to reach the top without having to step on the construction. We built the spiral to be stepped on, which was a result of the material we were using. And as a result of the material, it ended up larger than ‘suggested.’ But we had the space, and anything is better than a grass lawn. We filled the spiral with healthy soil. Once we bought (or gathered) the vegie clones and seeds, the organization started. Which plants like to stand next to which plants and which plants don’t mix well with what.

I call it the Salad Bar. It is not limited to herbs – like most spirals, it features tomatoes, lettuce, radish, spinach, celery, and more. There are no limitation to what one can plant. The most important aspect however, is to take the time and care to build the foundations. While I am satisfied with our work, I also see the less-than-perfect parts. I could have spent a little more care on layering the tiles, some of which are slightly wobbly; a handful of dirt could have fixed the problem… easier than coming back later to do it once everything is growing. I also placed some plants too close to one another and others too far. Some herbs, (like the pineapple sage – a delicious new discovery) has grown into a large shrub crowding its neighbor, the verveine  – an old time favorite.

It’s not perfect, and no one says it has to be perfect, because nothing is perfect and everything is perfect in its imperfection… complete. It is a learning process – this gardening journey, and that’s what makes it so rewarding.  The best part is going out to the spiral to make our lunch, and send guests out to choose their tea.


In the middle of the spiral above is Bastet the cat, and below collecting herbs at the edge is artist and visionary Alisa Minyukova . 

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