Making an Herb Garden – The Design (Part II)
As one of the first volunteer projects on the farm we were given a rectangular plot of land and asked to create an herb garden. Geoff requested a formal layout for the garden, one that would be functional and hopefully productive as well as beautiful. I remembered from my Permaculture course a classic design called the “Mandala” that uses circles with keyholes to maximize garden space while allowing access to all parts of the garden without having to step in the beds. Our plot is rectangular and two of these circular Mandalas fit perfectly side by side within the space. Additionally, there are two banana trees already growing in the plot which are nearly equidistant from either end. By placing the center line of each circle directly in line with each tree, I was able to fit two 7 meter circles within the rectangle with a half meter walking space between them at the closest point.
Our plot was covered nearly 2 feet deep in dried grass, rice hulls, and manure, which, if left as is, would have decomposed into some really nice topsoil in a year or two. Since we didn’t want to wait that long, we decided instead to remove the covering and set it aside for now to continue its decomposition process on a strip of land adjacent to our garden plot. Once we were down to the soil, I began to layout our design using stakes, rope, and lines drawn in the earth.
The next steps – place rocks to define the beds and paths and start building up the topsoil.