A culinary staple for any style of cooking, and one of the primary ingredients of “bouquet garni”! Thyme is happy to grow in containers or in garden beds. Great for rock gardens! Thyme may be grown from seed sown early indoors or as a potted plant.
Sowing Seed Indoors:
- Sow sage seeds indoors 6-8 weeks before the last frost in spring using a seed starting kit
- Sow seeds ¼ inches deep in seed-starting formula.
- Keep the soil moist at 70 degrees F
- Seedlings emerge in 14-21 days.
- As soon as seedlings emerge, provide plenty of light on a sunny windowsill or grow seedlings 3-4 inches beneath fluorescent plant lights turned on 16 hours per day, off for 8 hours at night. Raise the lights as the plants grow taller. Incandescent bulbs will not work for this process because they will get too hot. Most plants require a dark period to grow, do not leave lights on for 24 hours.
- Seedlings do not need much fertilizer, feed when they are 3-4 weeks old using a starter solution (half strength of a complete indoor houseplant food) according to manufacturer’s directions.
- If you are growing in small cells, you may need to transplant the seedlings to 3 or 4 inch pots when seedlings have at least 2 pairs of leaves before transplanting to the garden so they have enough room to develop strong roots.
- Before planting in the garden, seedling plants need to be “hardened off”. Accustom young plants to outdoor conditions by moving them to a sheltered place outside for a week. Be sure to protect them from wind and hot sun at first. If frost threatens at night, cover or bring containers indoors, then take them out again in the morning. This hardening off process toughens the plant’s cell structure and reduces transplant shock and scalding.
Planting in the Garden:
- Select a location in full sun with well-drained soil.
- Prepare the bed by turning the soil under to a depth of 8 inches. Level with a rake to remove clumps of grass and stones.
- Dig a hole for each plant large enough to amply accommodate the root ball.
- Carefully remove the plant from its pot and gently loosen the root ball with your hands to encourage good root development.
- Set the plants 12 inches apart.
- Place the top of the root ball even with the level of the surrounding soil. Fill with soil to the top of the root ball. Press soil down firmly with your hand.
- Use the plant tag as a location marker.
- Thoroughly water and apply a light mulch layer on top of the soil (1-2 inches) to conserve water and reduce weeds.
- Harvest sprigs of leaves as needed through the season. Thyme may be used fresh or dried.
- To dry leaves, cut whole stems on a sunny morning. Tie stems loosely in small bunches and hang in a dry, airy location out of the sun. OR spread on a cheesecloth or a window screen in a dry, shady location. OR dry herbs in the oven for 2-3 hours on a cookie sheet at the lowest heat, leaving the oven door open. OR use a dehydrator following the manufacturer’s instructions. When thoroughly dry, store in a tightly sealed container in a dry, dark location such as a cupboard.
- Thyme may also be frozen in ice cube trays in water or olive oil. Remove the leaves from stems first.
- Thyme may also be added to vinegars, herb butters and used to infuse honey.