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Urban herb gardening season begins

I’ve been led to understand that gardening is a popular pastime in the United States, one to which people devote considerable time, care, labor, and craft. If you are such a person, then this post is not for you. This post is for people like me: lazy, brown-thumbed, a serial murderer of plant life, with no special talent or aptitude for gardening, and — perhaps most importantly — no plot of land to call my own.

Last summer I planted a bunch of herbs in pots and put them outside my apartment. Some of the planters went out back, on the fire escape. Two big terra cotta pots went out front, in the little patio area that Brooklyn dwellers refer to as a yard. I presided over my modest acreage with benign neglect, watering as my travel schedule allowed, but mostly relying the rain to do my work. Pots don’t require any weeding. I’m told that southern exposure is best for plants. My front yard faces east.

This set-up worked amazingly well. The mint ran wild. Chives thrived. The basil positively exploded, and also became something of a neighborhood conversation piece, because the smell traveled halfway up the block. I’d get interrupted by smiling admirers during pre-dinner harvests. People like plants.

It’s about time to get the garden going again. Basil is a Mediterranean plant (I think) — it likes hot sun, and so I need to wait before planting until roughly Mother’s Day to make sure that frost season is over.


Chives are perennials, and they sprouted several weeks ago (see above). The thirty degree weather didn’t seem to bother them. The scraggly planter in front of the chives is full of mint, another perennial that should appear soon, as long as I do what I do best — ignore it entirely.


These are my basil pots. The one on the left also contains a small rosemary shrub that presently looks a little worse for the wear, but will hopefully perk up with the warmer weather.

Last year I also had some thyme, which I’m planning to plant again this year. I’m getting rid of the oregano. It grew like crazy, but I never wanted to eat it. In its place will go tarragon and sage.

Although I did eat my crop, I found the primary pleasure of growing the plants was stopping to admire their progress on the way home from work. Run your hand through a thicket of mint. The smell is unbelievable.

If you’re more ambitious than I am (not a hard thing to be), you can grow veggies like tomatoes and peppers in pots. The interweb, of course, offers a mountain of advice for aspiring urban gardeners. I’ll post more pictures as my patch progresses.

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