How to Grow and Use Herbs
Growing Thyme: The Aromatic Herb

Growing Thyme: The Aromatic Herb

Growing herbs in your garden brings many benefits. They can be planted alongside other plants to protect them from garden insects and diseases. Herbs can also be harvested and used as seasoning to most meals. Thyme, or thymus vulgaris, is a highly aromatic herb with a variety of uses. It holds its flavor well in cooking and can be blended in soup, egg, meat and vegetable dishes, bread and sauces. Its taste also blends well with olive oil, tomato sauce and garlic.

Growing herbs in your herb garden should not be difficult. Care and maintenance should be easy as long as you know the required conditions for specific types of herbs. Thyme prefers dry and sunny conditions. Plant them in sunny locations in your garden in well-drained compost. Thyme has tiny, fragrant flowers that bloom in late spring until summer. They are usually white, pink or purple. Creeping thyme can grow to about 2inches to 8inches tall and 12inches wide. Bush thyme can grow to about 1feet tall.

Thymes can be propagated from seed, root division or cuttings. However, taking cutting is not recommended. Growing thyme from seed can take up to about a year. Divisions can produce a good-sized plant in about a few months. When growing thyme from seeds, sow it into small pots, about 5cm in diameter in potting compost, ideally in March. Temperatures should be at 16°C (60°F). Keep the pot warm by keeping it indoors or in a greenhouse. It would take about a week for seedlings to emerge. When the plant is about 10cm tall, it can be hardened off in order to acclimate it to garden conditions. Move the plant outside in the day and take it back in at night. Do this for about a week before leaving the plant out at night. You can transplant thyme in a well-drained soil under full sunlight. Preferably, transplant them in a thick gravel mulch to keep roots from sitting in wet soil, especially during rainy season. They should be kept to about 30cm apart to allow proper growth.

Thyme becomes woody and produces fewer leaves after three years. Mature thymes can be dug up and divided to produce new plants. Dig up the herb, removing as much soil from the roots as possible. Divide into 3 to 4 pieces, each with enough root and foliage to grow separately from the main shrub. Plant it all back in ground and water thoroughly.

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