Fresh herbs are easy to forget about if you’ve never had them. They go bad quickly and they are much more expensive. When cooked, they don’t really offer much more than their dried equivalents. Consequently, I learned to cook with little shakers of dried Italian seasoning mix and crispy bay leaves, and I like to think that, even so, my food turned out pretty tasty. However, a decade or more later, I’ve found myself in awe of the flavor and hidden powers of fresh herbs. I’ve ditched the shakers, and now raw herbs are featured in almost every meal I make.
The big difference started with gardening. In an attempt to start growing more of my own food, I decided to build something called an herb spiral just outside of my kitchen. The spiral idea came from permaculture and seemed so sensible, here’s why:
Plant things like herbs close to the kitchen, so you’ll actually use them. The area just outside your door should be filled with things — herbs, lettuce and salad fixings — that readily go into meals and can be harvested daily. You’re more likely to pick them rain or shine, and you’ll be more inclined to add an herbal kick to any meal.
Using the spiral design creates different microclimates. By constructing a raised-bed in a spiral shape, plants are afforded different climates to grow in: shady, sunny, well-drained, cooler, etc. It allows herbs that might otherwise not do well in such close proximity a chance to be friends. It also separates herbs that do grow well together. You can even change the soil in different sections of the spiral.
It looks awesome while it’s working for you. The bed slowly winds its way up to three or four feet high, with greenery popping up everywhere. Why would someone choose to have a patch of grass rather than a turret of flavor? The herb spiral will provide vitamins and minerals to every meal with very little maintenance; the patch of grass will require cutting every week while looking like any other yard.