|Thyme (Thymus sp.)|
Thyme is a hardy perennial herb that tolerates cold and drought fairly well. It likes full sun and should be planted in well drained soil. Like chives, it is a good herb for a new gardener or someone who doesn't claim to have a 'green thumb' because of its hardiness. It has been in use at least as far back as the ancient Egyptians who used it as part of their embalming spices, but it is used today for culinary and ornamental purposes.
Most culinary thyme is the English thyme variety according to the National Gardening Association, but there are many varieties/'flavors' of thyme. Thyme releases its earthy flavor slowly and so is best added early when cooking with it. Most information I have read says that it is not overpoweringly strong, but my family finds it strong and prefers it used in very small quantities. Harvest thyme all summer. Just strip the small leaves off from the woody stems and use whole or chopped depending on the application. It can be dried or frozen for post growing season use. Thyme typically grows between 8 and 12 inches tall and should be trimmed to control the woody growth and keep the leaves fresh for kitchen use.
Creeping thyme is smaller and forms a good edging or rock garden plant. Its woody stems and small green leaves offer a nice backdrop to the little lavender flowers. The small flowers are also a great source of nectar for pollinators like honey bees. My herb garden is buzzing with activity between the thyme and oregano right now. :)
Next week I have one more herb I'd like to explore with you before we turn our attention to some other plants. I hope you have been enjoying this exploration of the culinary herbs as much as I have.
Happy (Herb) Gardening! :)