Thyme

There are dozens of cultivars of Thyme. All of them have wonderful fragrances, color, leave forms, and growing habits. The herb I am talking about here is Common Thyme or the culinary herb. You will find yourself planting cultivars in a sampler garden though as I have because these are such wonderfully aromatic herbs.

* Perennial in growth, this herb reaches 6 to 15 inches tall in Zones 5-9.

* Flowers range from tiny pink to purple at the stem tips in midsummer and the honey bees love them!

* Common Thyme have narrow smooth leaves. As the plant ages, the stems will become woody and that is the time to replace the plant. Thyme retains its leaves all winter where I live and making it easy to harvest anytime.

* Slightly sharp in flavor and aroma and very easy to grow.

* Plant 5-8 seeds per pot 10 weeks before the last frost in your area. The seedlings can be transplanted to the garden after the last frost has passed. Many cultivars do not grow true to seed, so you may actually want to purchase plants. Layering of the stems can be done in late spring and the plants can be divided in the fall.

* Although Thyme can be grown in partial shade, it will perform the best in the full sun. Well-drained soil is a must and excess nitrogen increases the susceptibility to fungal disease.

* Space 1 foot between the plants for good air circulation.

* Spider mites has been known to be a problem. Root rot and leaf spot occur is the herb is too damp or wet.

* Before blooming takes place is the best time to harvest. Snip off leaves as needed. Large quantities require you to cut the whole stem back to about 2 inches from the ground just before it blooms. Take only branch tips for the rest of the season.

* Dry enclose bunched stems upside down in paper sacks and hang to dry. Or stems can be dried in the dehydrator. When the dried, just slide your fingers along the stems removing the leaves for storage. Be sure to do this over a bowl or large pan to collect your harvest.

* You can freeze sprigs of Thyme on a baking sheet and the store them in airtight freezer containers. Thyme can also be frozen in butter or ice cubes.

* Thyme goes will with about just anything! Fresh or dried, use in seafood, poultry, veggies, cheese, eggs, legumes, rice, tomato dishes and of course soups & stews.

* Use Thyme to flavor your favorite cooking oil too!

Tips

Try adding thyme to potpourri or anything that requires a piney scent. In bathwater, it gives you a refreshing bath while providing antiseptic qualities that make it good for raw, rough skin. Thyme is said to settle an upset stomach. Were you aware that thymus (oil of Thyme) is used in mouthwashes because of its antiseptic properties?

THINK HERBS!