Grow thyme, thyme is a small perennial shrub that forms dense and compact bushes, it has no problems colonizing poor, dry, and stony soils and for this reason, it is a decidedly simple aromatic plant to grow in the garden and with multiple uses in the kitchen. It is part of the Lamiaceae family, just like oregano, basil, and many other medicinal products.
The thyme plant (Thymus) is also ornamental, it is very tidy and ground cover, it produces in spring a myriad of small pink-white flowers. This is why it can also be used for flower beds in the garden, combining beauty with usefulness.
Being a very undemanding crop in terms of soil, watering, and climate, it is suitable for cultivation even by beginners, very suitable for an organic method. Its resistance to cold makes thyme feasible for cultivation (grow thyme) even in mountain gardens walking through mountain pastures we can find spontaneous varieties of wild thyme even at altitudes above 1200 meters.
Thyme is a perennial species, so once planted or sown in the garden we can keep it for several years, without having to sow it every time. In a family garden, a thyme plant is enough to respond to domestic consumption, if we want to try more than one variety, for example experimenting with lemon thyme, we will put two or three seedlings.
If you want to put more plants for income production, it is better to space them about 30 cm between them and keep them 70/80 cm between the rows.
Where to sow thyme
Clima. This aromatic plant is very rustic, therefore it resists frosts and has no problem withstanding heat and sudden temperature changes. It grows well in sunny areas, and sun exposure also favors a higher content of essential oils.
Terrain. Thyme is not demanding in terms of nutrients, it is satisfied with poor soils. It prefers draining and non-clayey soil, being easily subject to mold in case of excessive humidity.
Tillage of the soil
Like all perennial crops, it is worth wasting some time to take care of the preparation of the flowerbed in which we are going to put the thyme plants. We proceed with a deep dig, even without turning the clod: the aim is to move the soil. Then we can hoe, with a possible moderate contribution of compost, and refine the surface with a rake.
Where the soil is clayey we can decide to mix sand before planting, possibly even raise the shore.
Methods of reproduction and sowing period
To insert it in the flowerbeds of our vegetable garden it can be reproduced in three ways: by seed, by partitioning the bushes, or by cuttings.
- By seed. The sowing of the thyme plant must be done in the spring in the seedbed, then it will be transplanted in the garden in the summer.
- Division of the head. We proceed by explanting an existing plant and dividing the shrub into several parts, each with a root system. You can proceed in spring or autumn, avoiding periods of excessive cold or dry months.
- Talea. The cutting consists in taking one of its branches from a plant and making it root, in order to obtain a seedling that will then be transplanted. The cutting requires the use of lateral branches that are already woody. The right time to do this is also spring in this case, or autumn in mild climates.
In any case, after sowing or transplanting it is important to water often, regularly, until the plant has developed an adequate root system.
The cultivation of thyme
Growing thyme in the garden is not difficult and this crop can also be grown in pots on terraces or windowsills. At the level of weeds, there is little effort to do, since the very dense bush discourages the formation of spontaneous species in the space of this aromatic.
Even as watering the plant does not create much work: It is not necessary to wet the thyme except in cases of extreme drought or when the plant is very young.
A straw mulch can benefit in arid climates, helping to reduce the transpiration of water from the soil.
Prune the thyme
Thyme is a resistant plant, which bears any cuts well, the twigs are usually cut for the harvest, but an annual pruning adjustment may be necessary, to keep the bush of this plant sized.
The only precaution to have in pruning is to make the cuts with suitable scissors that guarantee a clean and clean cut.
Pest and disease control
Thyme fears water stagnation, which causes mold and root rot to the plant, this kind of disease can be avoided without treatment but simply with the prevention, that is, taking care that the soil is draining.
Apart from the rottenness, the thyme plant is not very subject to phytosanitary problems and is a fairly simple crop to keep under organic farming.
This medicinal plant attracts many insects, both those useful in the garden such as ladybugs and those unwelcome, especially when its flowers appear. In the context of natural cultivation, this is however considered a virtue because biodiversity is an important source of balance. As parasites that attack the thyme, we pay attention to Chrysomela (Chrysolina Americana).
Grow thyme on the balcony
This aromatic herb can also be kept in pots, on a terrace or balcony. A good-sized pot with a minimum diameter of 30 cm and medium depth is recommended. As a soil we can mix fertile soil mixed with peat and sand, before filling the pot with earth, it is good to spread a small layer of gravel or expanded clay that allows for better drainage of excess water.
Collection and conservation
As we have seen, growing thyme is simple and does not require much effort, on the other hand, we can harvest it practically all year round.
In the kitchen the leaves are used, we can then take them by cutting the whole twigs with shears. The best thing is to always harvest at the time of use, to preserve the aroma and nutritional qualities contained in the plant. After harvesting, they tend to wither in a few days, but you can always choose to dry.
By cutting the branches at the base we can decide to dry them, to preserve this spice and preserve our thyme, or perhaps give jars to those who do not grow it. The method is similar to that used in general for aromatics.
Drying can be done naturally, leaving the twigs hanging in dry, shady, and airy places. Alternatively, we can achieve excellent results with a dryer. The preservation of dried thyme leaves is to be carried out in glass jars with screw caps.
Variety of thyme
There are several varieties of thyme, from the most common to some types, particularly popular in recent years those that have an aroma that recalls the taste of lemon.
- Common thyme (Thimus vulgaris). The most common species and therefore more widespread both in gardens and in the kitchen. It is a shrub with very small leaves.
- Wild thyme or creeping thyme (Thimus serpillo). It is characterized as a plant by its creeping habit, which sees the plant develop horizontally but remain low on the grassy surface.
- Lemon thyme or golden thyme (Thimus citronium). A sought-after species of which there are several varieties, known for its aroma and perfume, vaguely reminiscent of lemon, to which it also owes its name. By combination very often the lemon thyme varieties have partially yellow colored leaves, usually they are golden on the outer edges.
Properties and culinary use
This medicinal plant is attributed with balsamic and antiseptic properties, it also contains a good dose of vitamins, for these uses the essential oil must be extracted from the plant. The infusion of thyme is instead used as a digestive.
Thyme in the kitchen. Numerous recipes can be enhanced by using thyme as an aromatic herb. Dried thyme leaves are an interesting spice to use to flavor meat, soups, omelets, or other dishes.
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