Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Thyme (Thymus)

The common name for Thymus,a genus of aromatic herbs or shrubby plants of the Mint Family, long cultivated and valued as both ornamentals and sweet herbs. Thyme plants grow to a height of 12 to 18 inches (30 - 45cm).

They have small lavender or pink flowers and are planted in the rock garden and the border for ornament, or in the herb garden, to be used for seasoning. They grow easily and are easily increased from cuttings or seed.

How to grow
To achieve optimum results, plant the seed indoors in early spring. Thyme is very hardy and will grow under most conditions. It prefers full sun and a soil that is light and sandy, or loamy. Thyme requires minimal fertilization unless the soil quality is of extremely poor quality, or when grown via the hydroponic method. Seed will germinate usually within 3 weeks. Thyme plants should be spaced 18 to 24 inches (45 - 60cm) apart.

Thyme propagates easily from tip cuttings or crown division. Since it grows slowly, especially early in it's life, weed-control is essential. Mulching with straw is helpful.

Thyme is one of the savory herbs, which are main course herbs used to flavor hardy meals, bone warming soups, and piquant sauces. They blend their essence with other savory herbs like French Tarragon and Winter Savory to create some memorable flavors, as in this savory herbal marinade. Thyme is also one of the three traditional herbs used in Fines Herbes.

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