My last blog discussed about the benefits of thyme. After reading them who would not think of growing it in their own garden and get benefitted from its medicinal properties. Thyme is a marvelous herb with pleasurable, pungent, clover flavor best grown in summers.
The very first thing to contemplate when purchasing Thyme is that there are two main types of it which are normally used: Ornamental and Culinary. The three most common types of culinary thyme are: Caraway, French and Lemon which add wonderful and satisfying taste (enough to excite your taste buds) to your summer soups, grilled meats and vegetables.
Culinary thyme is a hardy perennial that is evergreen. It is drought- tolerant and pollinator- friendly. You can get the best of its flavor in the summers.
Where: thyme loves to thrive in full sun and heat. If growing it indoors, plant it near a sunny window. For a head start, plant the cuttings of thyme indoor for 6 to 10 weeks as it’s a little hard to grow thyme from seeds because of slow and uneven germination. Make sure your soil is not too rich in organic matter and is slightly sandy.
When: plant the cuttings after the ground temperature reaches 21 degree Celsius. This is usually 2 to 3 weeks before the last spring.
Propagate by cuttings: it is the easiest way to plant your thyme. Clip a 4 inch cutting from the very tip of a stem, apply rooting hormone on the exposed portion of the stem and plant it in sterile sand. Roots will make an appearance within about 6 weeks. Transfer to a small pot and let the root ball formation take place. You can later transfer it to a large pot if needed else, directly to your garden.
Sun: planting should be done in well- drained soil with an optimal pH of 6.0 or 8.0. organic fertilizer can be added in the early spring.
Water: these require less watering but thorough watering only when the soil is dry.
Spacing: the young plants should be placed 12 to 24 inches apart, depending on the variety you are growing. Their maximum height is 6 to 12 inches.
Companion planting: it can be grown near tomatoes, strawberries cabbage. Also, it can be planted near rosemary as it requires similar weather and watering conditions as of Thyme.
In order to leisure its best flavor, harvest thyme just before it flowers as flowers indicate maturity. It tastes great both fresh and dried. Clip a 5 to 6 inches of growth with scissors, leaving the tough, woody parts. Avoid washing clean leaves as it may rip off some of the essential oils. Regular pruning not only encourages more growth, but also promotes a more rounded shape.
Trouble shooting thyme
Pests: Spiders, aphids, mealy bugs may attack thyme. You can easily knock them out with a strong stream of water or by spraying insecticides.
Diseases: thyme is vulnerable to root rot and fungal diseases. Steer clear of root rot by keeping plants out of wet areas and planting them too close to each other. Botrytis root can be treated with a fungicide.
Preserving and storing thyme
• Refrigeration: cover the fresh thyme in a damp paper towel over wrapped in plastic and refrigerate. Keep it for 1 or 2 weeks in the vegetable crisper.
• Drying: leaves can be dried by clipping the stems and hanging them upside down in a warm, airy place for 3 to 6 days.
• Freezing: put the clippings in sealable plastic bag.
• Storing: dried leaves can be easily stored in an airtight container.
Water deeply only when the soil is completely dry.
Pruning is necessary as it helps in continuous and healthy growth of the plant. It should be done back in the spring and summer. The more you trim, the more it grows attaining a good shape.
The best flavor you get is from the young plants, so divide the 3 to 4 year old plants.
Protect the plant from freezes with a mulch of chopped leaves, straws or evergreen branches.
Check back on next Thursday to find out its best ways of usage.
Arshdeep Kaur Longia