One of the main "big flavor" ideas put forth in Smart Chefs is the addition to a dish of fresh herbs, particularly when finishing. The more I heard this from chefs, the more I was inclined to buy and cook with herbs. Fish with tarragon; chicken and roots with rosemary; peach-mint popsicles. And it usually went like this: Purchase herbs for specific recipe, wrap up leftover herbs and store in fridge, try to remember to use same herb in different dish next day, forget, find soggy, sad lump of herbage rotting in fridge. Toss. (And some weeks add: Find recipe using same herb, realize I've just thrown it out, substitute inferior dried variety.)
For years I had read and ignored exhortations from cooks to grow a small herb garden for clipping fresh herbs. So please don't hate me now that, converted to urban gardening, I am going to implore you to do the same. Grow your herbs: You will be able to snip the exact amount you need, the rest won't go bad, and the flavor with be amazing. This summer for the first time I have chives, rosemary, basil, mint, thyme, parsley, tarragon, oregano and sage surviving, and in some cases thriving, right outside my dining room window.
It has changed the way I cook. Most meals used to start around a protein: chicken or beans or fish, and then a recipe hunt for what to do with them. Now I look out the window and see that the mint is taking over, so what can we do with mint tonight? I've been throwing it in salads, pairing it with watermelon, chopping it into English peas. My parsley can't keep up with my snipping demands; I want it in everything.
I'm not saying you have to nurture seeds up through the earth. Just get some seedlings already started, and plop them into whatever plot you can create. We happen to have window boxes, but a few small pots on a sill will do nicely. Don't forget to water; I have my son helping with that. He was less interested in herbs which didn't seem like real food, so we are now also growing tomatoes and peppers.
My limited experience in urban gardening suggests that you don't need a full spice rack of herbs. Start with just the one or two you love to use often, and add more when you're ready. For me, basil and rosemary seemed essential. But who knew how much I would love having tarragon around? There is a surprisingly light chicken and leek pie recipe from Curtis Stone that uses tarragon and is lovely. Link is here.
So, that's my pitch. It is possible you'll ignore it as I did others to grow herbs. I can only tell you that I wish I had listened sooner.