Grow thyme in the right conditions and you will have a tasty herb for many months in season and years of growth. The delicate flavor can add life to any dish.
Thyme is a fragrant herb that adds a wonderful twist to both meat and vegetable dishes, as well as soups. There are tens of varieties of this plant, but English thyme is the most popular for cooking.
This herb comes from the hot climate of the Mediterranean, therefore it does not need a lot of moisture to survive. Following these simple 7 steps, you will be able to grow thyme in your own garden or even indoors.
Details for Growing Thyme
|Planting Months||March – April|
|Harvest Months||Summer months|
|Temperature to Plant||70 F+|
|Planting Depth||1/4 inch deep|
|Spacing||12 – 24 inches apart|
|Sunlight||6 + hours|
|Drainage||Well-drained avoiding rotting|
|Companion Plants||Cabbage – Eggplant – Potatoes – Strawberries|
|Health Benefits||Diarrhea – Arthritis – Sore Throat – Lowers blood pressure – Boosts immunity|
Seven Steps to Growing Thyme
Sandy and stony soil in dry climates with good drainage are perfect for growing thyme. This herb will thrive in an environment with neutral pH levels ranging from 6.0 to 8.0.
You can also remove native soil from where you want to plant thyme and replace it with a suitable mix.
Soil pH Testing
You need to make sure that you accurately test your soil to give your plants the best chance.
Growing thyme from seeds is difficult, which is why most people grow it from divisions. If you want to start with seeds, carefully scatter them across the soil of a container. Then, scatter some more soil on top and water well, covering the patch with a plastic sheet afterward.
The best way to germinate your seeds so that they have a great start is with a germination kit. Seeds that are grown this way produce greater results.
Make sure that the container is in a warm environment and leave the seeds to germinate for up to 12 weeks. When the seedlings reach 4 inches in height, you are ready to plant them in the garden or in bigger containers.
Another way is taking divisions, or cuttings, taken from a mature herb with roots intact or simply buying one from the shop that is ready to be planted. To root cuttings before planting them in the garden, place them 12 inches apart in moist sand for 4 weeks.
After the seedlings are ready to be transplanted, transfer them to the garden or a bigger container (minimum 6-inch deep).
Space the plants 12 to 24 inches apart in the ground that has reached 70 degrees in temperature. It is advised to plant this herb near tomatoes, cabbage, and strawberries, which will benefit from that companionship, and even flowers, due to its attractiveness to bees.
Benefits of Growing
Thyme repels worms that damage those plants, as well. You can also plant thyme near rosemary because these herbs grow well in the same environment. Make sure the patch gets a full day’s worth of sun, either in the garden or on the windowsill indoors.
Thyme is a plant that requires the bare minimum attention. You only have to water it during hot months when the ground is absolutely dry. If you live in a rainy area, it is best to plant thyme indoors, because this herb will perish from constant moisture.
Indoor plants can be given liquid seaweed weekly in the period from March to May. For extra care, you can lightly spray the leaves with compost tea a couple of times during the growing season.
Thyme is self-sufficient, but you can help it stay healthy by adding compost to the soil during warm months and pines during colder months as insulation. Mulch can be used instead of pines.
Make sure the soil stays dry, but don’t add any wooden chips to soak it up – this will do more damage than good. Every year during spring and summer prune thyme to keep it growing.
However, after three-four years it will begin to grow slower no matter what you do, which is why you should take new cuttings and replant the patch to have a new, robust supply of this herb.
Bugs and Diseases
Thyme is not a target of frequent pest attacks or diseases, but sometimes it can be visited by a greenfly, an insect who sucks the sap out of plants. Simply wash these creatures away with water or plant daisies around that will act as bait for them.
Like most herbs native to hot, dry climates, thyme can suffer from fungal diseases starting at the roots if too much moisture is present in the soil.
Thyme is best harvested before it blooms and in the morning hours of the early summer months. This is the time when the herb is at the peak of its flavor. To harvest it, cut 5-6 top inches which are the most tender and fresh.
If you are cutting from a freshly planted herb, do not snip more than a third of it away, but after a year of growing it, you can cut however much you want. In fact, the more you cut off, the more grow back!
Don’t wash the gathered leaves, because they contain healthy essential oils that can be stripped away with water.
Fresh thyme should be placed in a plastic bag and refrigerated for up to two weeks. Most of the time, though, it is dried by hanging it in a dark, warm place with good air ventilation, or simply by leaving the plant on a tray.
One of the issues people have is that their crops produce all at once. The best way to overcome this is with a dehydrator so you can store your food for years and the flavor is amazing.
Dried thyme should be kept in an airtight container in a dark cupboard and crushed right before using it to release the flavor. This herb can be stored for up to two years in this form.
Thyme is best used as a seasoning for grilled meat, vegetable meals, and soups. It can also be used to brew tea that cures sore throat and boosts your immunity. However, the art of culinary is not the only area where this herb has a purpose – it has been used as medicine for centuries.
Extracts and tinctures made from thyme help fight acne and diarrhea and lower blood pressure. Moreover, it is a disinfectant that can get rid of mold and pests in the garden and in your home.
No matter how you look at it, thyme is a versatile herb that is very easy to grow both indoors and outdoors. After following the simple steps above you will have a year-round supply of this magnificent herb and no doubt find a use for it in everyday life.
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