As I prepared for the end of days with the Great Pause of 2020, the best way to maintain my sanity was to garden. I know a lot of Americans began to step away from their technology as the weather warmed up and stepped their shovels into freshly tilled earth. This was the way I survived Quarantine and want to share the trials and progress.
Pinterest is usually my platform for inspiration. I love to discover trending crafts and Do-It-Yourself projects to tackle, then share my experiences with our readers. The Sacred Herb Spiral is one of those projects that immediately spoke to me. Luckily I had a spot on my homestead to revitalize. Some junk metal that housed mice and other farm style varmints (Bleh!) for several years finally moved to the curbside. Time for improvement.
My husband became a major resource of muscles and determination to help see this project through to completion. I admit I’m a bit lazy once the heat beats down and the weed roots travel deeper than my arm… Leaving this patch of land unused and unloved for years proved how much love we needed to return in order to see the balance in reciprocation.
Druids used this type of gardening method. Herbalists and Square Foot Gardeners appreciate this technique for keeping beneficial perennials with medicinal properties close at hand for herbal concoctions. The design can be built vertically to accommodate small spaces. The space we chose is on a slope and allows for a meditative walk in, around, up, and out.
The herbs I added in this garden plot were all started from seed from a local vendor that I HIGHLY recommend, Fruition Seeds. They are a seed supplier, very local to the Finger Lakes (FLX) region, so the seeds and crops they produce are proven to grow in Upstate soils. The folks at Fruition are also the BEST supporters of all gardening questions. I barely wait a few hours before receiving a very thoughtful response to a question that I initially felt awkward to ask for fear of being too silly. Remember, that old adage about unasked questions…ask away! Feel free to do so here, that’s what this project is all about.
My main purpose for this garden plot was to provide a meditative space for walking and clearing thoughts. There are optional plans to consider the four directions or coordinate plants to earth’s elements. Instead of getting too deep into plant placement, I went with my gut on where each plant belonged. If I change my mind, I can rearrange whenever I choose. Allowing your artistic license to have authority is the best part of any creative project.
After researching various ways to accomplish a Sacred Herb Spiral, I knew I wanted to keep the surface flat and allow a guest to enjoy this walk as much as I will enjoy harvesting it. We created a spiral with a rock path for walking. The areas of dirt on each side of the rocks allow for planting. All of the rocks you see were dug from cultivating this plot of ground. The amazingly rocky Upstate soil never ceases to provide the sediment!
After the spiral structure and rock path was complete, the fun part of planting arrived. Now here is where the wonky part begins. My seedling tray was mislabeled.(!!!) Plants I assumed were one thing began to grow into a totally different specimen! I know this is all user error, or multiple errors combined (insert giggles and eyerolls)… so much for gut feeling on where plants should go. My goal was to place tulsi basil in the center, as the star of the plot. I am actually not quite certain what is growing in the center. I assume it’s marshmallow, but only time and the flowers will tell me. There are more question marks on this map than I want to admit, but confess I will. That’s part of this project. I’m sharing my successes and failures so you can learn from my mistakes.
Despite a few seeding errors, I love this space and enjoyed the process. I learned that the stings I got on my skin were from a highly revered Stinging Nettle, which is more of a weed in my garden. I have much to learn about this bountiful healing herb.
Ironically, this spiral garden was constructed the day of George Floyd’s murder. The intent for this space to heal the soul promptly proved it’s purpose. With grace, we dedicate this space in memory of all beings whose lives are cut short.
Now that I’ve shared this precious process with you, I hope you are inspired to take on a similar challenge. Gardening is the simplest way to stay active and connected with Mother Earth and oneself. After a rough day, the last thing I want to do is weed, but once my hands are in the dirt, I see the progress and feel the rewards. I always recognize the stress deplete and disappear while I am in this happy space. I wish the same for you.
I invite you to return soon for more creative endeavors. Do you know what those green spirals are? They are the flowering stems of garlic called scapes. Check back next week for a recap of my adventure on canning and storing this first-of-the-season farm harvest.
Before I close, I want to highlight an upcoming online class scheduled for Saturday, July 18 from 11-1pm EST. Register today by clicking this link for Photography Fun with Dan Gallagher. Do you want to take the best photographs with your camera, but need real-world some guidance? Invest in your dream and start learning creative photography from an experienced photographer and teacher. Dan Gallagher will show you how to use the settings of your camera to achieve shots you’ve only seen in magazines. Interchangeable lens camera preferred, any camera can be used to learn new skills. This class has limited seats and will be hosted on Zoom. If you are eager for more library program options, check out the calendar packed with options for all ages.
I like to call the middle day of the week #SeWednesday. We’ll be sewing together on July 15 at 6pm with Jesse Beardslee of Themis and Thread. Learn how to “Work with Whatcha Got.” This will be the first of a three part sewing tutorial series. Jesse will guide you in creating an Upcycled Dress Bodice or Separate Top. Tune in on the Southeast Steuben County Library YouTube channel for the 6pm premiere on July 15.
There is sew much fun on the horizon. I look forward to learning with you. That’s a wrap for this stationary moment. I’ll catch you on the flip side!