Have you heard of an herb spiral? No, we're not talking about that week in college when you didn't leave your dorm room. It's a space and kid friendly way to grow your own fresh herbs and lettuces in even the tightest of corners. It can also teach your tots about caring for the earth, watering, micro-climates, ecosystems and heat radiation. That's a lot for a little patch of dirt, no?
Photos and directions after the jump!
Using rocks or bricks you build a raised spiraled garden bed and then fill it full of all your favorites. The raised spiral allows you to plant more in your space than you otherwise would and it also lets you vary sun needs -- full sun herbs on top, shade herbs in the back. It's really an ingenious little invention. Some tips to make it even greener:
- Use Craig's List or the Re-use Center to find your bricks or rocks.
- If you need to buy soil for this project, buy it loose and bring along re-usable containers to fill.
- This is a great time to use your compost! If you don't have compost - save up your coffee grounds for a week or two to use in the soil.
- Start from seed - one package of seeds not only costs less than a plant but there is also much less packaging.
Once you have all your materials - the learning and building starts! Show your kids:
- How the terrain of your backyard and neighborhood can be a microclimate. It can open up discussions on how Puget Sound cools Seattle or what effect the mountains have on all this rain.
- Ecosystems! Discuss how each plant needs and leaves different nutrients in the soil for the other plants to use. Talk about what's going to happen to your coffee grounds or vegetable peels over time.
- The rocks in the herb spiral are there for more than just support - they keep the soil warm. The absorb the sun's heat during the day and radiate that warmth to the soil at night.
- Nurturing is 75% of gardening, getting dirty is the other 25%. This project, or any garden project, teaches your kids about caring for something outside of themselves.
- Eating green - after having grown it, your kids might be more into eating herbs and lettuces than you might think. How fun to go together into the yard to snip some herbs for your salads and sauces. I bet your kidlets will be more interested in what you eat.
Here are some links to learn more:
- Flickr photos of herb spirals around the world
- A great step-by-step guide from GardenGuides.com
- Everything you'd ever want to know about growing herbs from SavvyGardener.com
To the pesto!