A three day weekend - like this past Memorial Day holiday, is the perfect time to do a special project. For the past month, I have been talking about planting a herb garden since I missed the one I had last year so much. Finally I made my way down to the Green Market in Union Square and bought: Mexican tarragon, chives, sage, rosemary, lavender, thyme, as well as an heirloom tomato plant and a cayenne pepper plant. I only had enough soil to plant the sage, rosemary, lavender, thyme, and the tomato plant, but I will finish planting the rest next weekend when I buy the basil and couple other herbs I have been eying.
To start an herb garden, you need a planter or pot that has adequate drainage. Fill the bottom of the pot with a couple inches of rocks (rocks should be about the size of popcorn) and then pack down the soil (I used Miracle-Gro Organic Choice Potting Mix) to the point of where you want to plant your herbs. I like to water the soil just so everything is moist.
When dealing with the placement of herbs I like to keep the hardier, firm stem plants (like rosemary) together and the softer plants (like sage) together. Before placing them in the planter, I snip the bottoms on all four sides to unwind the roots, and then gently loosen the dirt.
I then place my herbs in the planter and pack the soil around their bases. I give them plenty of water and put them in the sunniest spot I can find (my brownstone only gets Northern and Southern sunlight so it isn't a lot). I water them every couple days depending on the heat, I like to make sure the soil is moist.
Please note, I am not a serious gardener, I have only taken one class on herb gardening and these steps worked for me last year. I pulled my planters inside once it got cold, but the herbs didn't last because they couldn't get enough sun.
Since I do a lot of cooking, it is nice to have these herbs on hand, instead of spending three to four dollars on a bundle in the grocery store. This way, you can snip off what you need. Herbs love to be snipped - it promotes growth, just don't snip more than a third of the way down the stem.