Thyme is a perennial herb with a woody stalk that grows best in dry, sunny climates. It’s hard to believe that thyme comes in more than 200 varieties, but actually, there are. In addition, the taste of this herb is well-suited for cooking and combining well with other flavours, such as garlic and tomatoes. Typically used with poultry, fish, and stews and casseroles, it also adds a unique flavour to poultry and fish dishes. This herb is also one of the essential parts of a bouquet garni.
As thyme is rather difficult to propagate from seeds, the most common method is to take stem cuttings and root them or buy a mother plant from a reputable nursery.
The stem should be about six inches long, preferably a well-established one that isn’t too woody. There should be plenty of new green growth on the branches (although mature growth can be seen on the lower portion of the stem).
You can let most varieties of thyme grow unattended since the more fuss you make, the weaker the plant gets. Instead, put your thyme in a spot where it gets plenty of light. It prefers hot, dry conditions over cool, damp ones. The soil must be well-drained to grow thyme properly.
Depending on the variety, thyme can be planted in gravel gardens, cracks in paving or even as an alternative to grass. When you walk over it, you crush the stems and leaves, which gives off the recognisable scent. You can grow other varieties in pots and bring them inside in the autumn. Once the plants have finished flowering, they need to be pruned and protected during the winter.
Here’s the thing: the worse your soil is, the better the plant will grow. The herb prefers sandy or loamy soil over moist soil and can even grow in rocky gravel. The plants grow quickly, so if you want to add thyme to your garden, space them at least one foot apart. Choose a larger container/pot to allow the thyme to grow into if you’re planting in a pot. Additionally, choosing a clay pot is helpful, as it can wick away additional moisture from the soil and create the ideal environment for your thyme.
If your outdoor climate allows, water the herb every other week or even every month, which should be sufficient. With this herb, it is best to wait until the soil is dried, water to saturation, and dry again. The herb also resists drought, so you can let it go for an extra few days without watering it.
Plants of the thyme family don’t require special temperatures or humidity and can thrive through most months of the year until there is a frost (at which point they will go dormant for the winter). They grow the most during the summer, which is also when you’ll notice their flowers blooming, which will attract bees and other insects.
The herb can be harvested at any time after it is established, as its flavour is retained even after it flowers. So you can snip a few stems whenever you feel like cooking with the herb.
Remove the leaves, making sure you leave just two or three sets. Plant the cuttings into a container filled with potting compost (even old potting compost will suffice) mixed with sand or perlite. To maintain humidity, cover the container with a loosely secured plastic bag.
Common Pests and Diseases
There is no serious problem with thyme, though too much moisture in the soil can cause the roots to rot. Avoid planting this herb in soil that is too dense or too rich because it won’t like it.
Check out over 30 recipes using thyme from Epicurious
Here’s a very popular seed package, with a dozen different herbs. Take a look:
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