Ursula Richterich, Head of the Ricola herb garden in Nenzlingen near Laufen and member of the Ricola owner-family, offers you some really useful tips. You do not need much space to start your own herb garden. An area of about three square meters is enough to plant the major medicinal and kitchen herbs, which you can pick as you go along depending on what you need.
The perfect form for profusion of herbs!
Popular structures for herb gardens are the herb triangle or spiral: Both are ideal for cultivation, allowing you to cultivate herbs in different types of soil and even in the most limited of spaces. Ursula Richterich’s recommendation is to construct your own herb spiral. This is a small, three-dimensional spiral elevated approx. one meter above ground and made from soil and rocks. The herb spiral is not suitable for balconies, where the space would be too restricted. Here, it is better to use herb boxes.
Frequently asked questions
Construct your herb spiral in spring or autumn.
Ideally, you should choose an easily accessible area not too far from the entrance to your kitchen – so you do not get muddy feet! The site you choose should also be sunny.
What is the best construction material?
The foundation of the spiral can be built using coarse rocks, gravel, or building rubble, which you should pile about 80 centimeters above level ground. It is best to use natural stone for the walls of the spiral. A space of about 60 cm should be left between the walls of the spiral. Once you have built up the stonewall layers, you can cover the base with 20 to 30 centimeters of soil.
What type of soil?
Herbs grow in various soil conditions. At the top, it is advisable to use a mixture of about two-thirds soil and one-third sand. The middle layer should only be soil and at the bottom, you should mix the soil with very fertile compost. “Block the end of the spiral with rocks or compacted straw or hay, so that the rain does not wash away the soil,” advises Ursula Richterich. Another option is to build a small pond at the end of the spiral.
Which herbs should be avoided?
For the upper, very sunny and sandy level: Use Mediterranean herbs such as thyme, sage or rosemary.
On the middle, slightly shadier level: Use undemanding herbs such as lemon mint, oregano, mallow, chamomile or chervil.
At the bottom: Moisture-loving herbs are best such as chives or parsley.
You can also cultivate nasturtiums in the wall crevices.
Ursula Richterich advises against using tall flowering herbs such as lovage or horseradish. Equally, smaller plants such as peppermint or tarragon should not be cultivated in the herb spiral. “These herbs form long underground roots spreading beneath the spiral and preventing other plants from growing,” explains Richterich. Wormwood is another example: Its root growth adversely impacts on the growth of the other plants nearby.
Ursula Richterich’s top tip
Spray your herbs every two weeks with an infusion of horsetail to deter pests and strengthen the herbs’ “immune system”.