By E. VinjeTweet
Native to the western Mediterranean, herb gardeners are growing thyme (Thymus) as a landscape plant as well as for culinary purposes. With many varieties available on the market, it is one of the most versatile herbs and can be used to season any meat or vegetable. In earlier days, it was also believed that a concoction of beer and thyme could cure shyness. Hardy plants grow up to 18 inches tall. Perennial.
Thyme prefers full sun to light shade and a well-drained, dry soil amended with plenty of organic compost. Keep it sheltered from cold winds. The plant may not survive severe winters unless covered or heavily mulched. It does very well in containers.
Tip: Use thyme in the rock garden to cascade over walls. It also attracts beneficial insects.
How to Plant:
Thyme is easy to propagate from cuttings or plant from nursery stock. Space plants 15 inches apart. If growing from seed, start indoors 6-8 weeks before planting out. Sow on the surface of the soil. Seeds will germinate in 10-20 days. Transplant after the danger of frost has passed. Apply an all-purpose organic fertilizer mixed with kelp extract several times throughout the growing season.
Begin harvesting sprigs during the first year from cuttings; snip seedlings sparingly until the second year. For the best flavor, harvest in the morning just before bloom. Strip leaves from the stem and use them fresh or dried. To dry thyme, cut the stems just as the flowers start to open. Hang to dry in small bunches.
Insects and Disease:
Thyme is susceptible to botrytis rot, rhizoctonia (root rot), and other fungal diseases. Choose planting locations with good drainage and plenty of air circulation to prevent problems. Common insect pests, include aphids and spider mites. Watch closely and apply organic pest controls, when necessary.
Seed Saving Instructions: