Thyme is a classic seasoning used by chefs and cooks the world over in many types of dishes including salads, soups, chowders, sauces, breads, vegetable and meat dishes, and even jellies and desserts. Thyme is a classic ingredient in two different herb combination’s Herbs de Provence and Bouquet Garni.
It is an easy herb to grow and can be planted in many different situations to add interest to the garden. Thyme requires very little care and can withstand a variety of growing environment. It is a hearty ground cover and can withstanding foot traffic which would make it a perfect choice to add between stepping stones at the entrance to an herb or fragrance garden as it will release it’s wonderful scent whenever disturbed.
Thyme contains antibacterial properties and is as an ingredient in mouthwash as well as a medicinal herb for respiratory problems. Also used in eczema, psoriasis, broken chilblains, parasitic skin affections and burns as an ointment.
It should be grown as a companion plant for Lavender, Catnip and Horehound. There are well over 100 varieties and are so close in appearance, it is often difficult to differentiate them.
Thyme likes a light, dry, stony soil in full sun or partial shade. Thyme will also grow on heavy clay soils but it will need too drain well so it will need to be amended. It does not like excessive moisture and generally in richer soil it becomes less aromatic .
The seeds can be sown directly in soil or pots in a warm location after danger of frost has passed. Sow thinly then cover with a 1/4 inch of soil. Keep moist and germination should occur within 5 to 7 days. Plants may also be increased by divisions, You start by dividing old roots or making cuttings by cutting pieces off the plants with roots on them. Simply move to the new location and replant. The perfume of Lemon Thyme is sweeter if raised from cuttings or division than if planted by seed.
These perennial herbs do pretty well left on their own. They do not require fertilizer nor much fussing with. In fact they are better in poor soil that has not been tilled and cultivated. A good idea is to plant them in between stepping stones or at the beginning of a garden path. When ever the plant is disturbed it will release some of it’s wonderful fragrance. In fact a few years back one of the large nurseries was marketing a whole collection of ground covers called stepables for their ability to withstand light foot traffic and Thyme was high on their list.
Thyme leaves are at their best if picked just as the flowers appear. Store fresh thyme in a plastic bag in the vegetable crisper drawer of your refrigerator or stand sprigs in a glass of water on the refrigerator shelf.To dry Thyme, hang bundles of sprigs upside-down in an warm, dry, airy location for about ten days.Dried thyme should be stored in a cool, dark place, in an airtight container for up to 6 months.
As with most leafy dried herbs, be sure to crush the leaves between your hands before using them for best flavor. Leaves should be stripped from the twigs pulling in the opposite direction of the leaf growth.