Posted by: A Part of the Solution | April 29, 2011

Herb Garden Layout, Part 3

The circumference of the herb garden’s circle will measure 251 feet once we’ve got the ground tilled. The outermost rings of my herb garden (tracing out the labyrinth path as seen on the floor of various European Cathedrals–Chartres being notable) will be seeded with those plants having an affinity for Mars.

One reason for starting Mars on the outside of the labyrinth has to do with how successful basil is as a contract crop here on the farm. We’re growing five kinds of basil this year: Genovese,  purple, Thai, cinnamon and lemon. We foresee an increasing demand for this herb over time.
Most of the herbs in the Mars family are botanical ‘warriors’ and good at driving off or distracting pests. Basil is not one of these. Instead, it is the most fragile member of the Mars affinity group. Basil succumbs readily to molds, spots, rots and fungus. So far, we haven’t had these troubles. In part because we grow our own plants from seed, thus avoiding nursery-born contagions. In addition, the extremely low levels of rain last season worked in our favor. This year, we’re seeding our own again, and I’ve got a companion-planting scheme in mind to protect the basil, and many other more delicate botanicals in the herb garden.

A good reason to put Mars on the circumference of the herb garden is my desire to plant Numex Twilight Pepper plants around the garden to help deflect mammalian predators. I want the peppers interplanted with marigolds and nasturtiums. I envision these companion plants discouraging various species from a range of phylum in further adventures toward the interior of the herb garden.

Juniper bushes are assigned to the rulership of Mars as peppers and basil are. I can use the Juniper bushes to punctuate the true compass quarter, or the corners of the garden itself–as my whimsy takes me. Their berries add wonderful fresh spiciness to dark meat, and variety meat preparations, as well as potpourris, sauces and tisanes.

Mars also rules over the shade loving sweet woodruff, which makes lovely ground cover and also adds a delicate, springtime flavor to May Wine. Tarragon is a member of the Martial family of herbs. This spiky perennial is considered one of the foundational Fines Herbes of the French culinary canon, as is basil. Tarragon also discourages pests, and will make a fine addition to the second ring of the labyrinth, both its flavor and its prophylactic qualities are highly desirable in any well-planned garden.

Horseradish is the last major player on the Mars affiliated culinary herb list this year. Horseradish has invasive tendencies and will spread as far as it may be allowed to travel. I’ll be sinking buckets or some-such to contain this flavorful member of the Brassica tribe until we’re ready to harvest it. While its leaves may offer an invitation to flea beetles and similar pests, its presence will prevent those pests from being motivated to travel inward to the more tender plants along the rings of the herb labyrinth.

With great built-in defenses in the form of these Mars plants, we’ll be able to stabilize our new garden more quickly. And every plant will have a better chance at flourishing wildly if it can spend less of its energy coping with opportunistic pests.



  1. Where is it going?

    • In the front yard, as we discussed. The neighbors are asking Dave Morral (our next-door neighbor) what he thinks we’re doing plowing up the front yard. Dave says, “I expect they’re going to plant something.” No flies on Dave!

      • LOL!!! Love it.

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