Tasty, good-looking, versatile and tough as boots, thyme has got to be one of the easiest culinary herbs around. Prized for its antiseptic qualities (try thyme tea for a chest cold, you’ll be amazed!), thyme is an excellent plant for vegie patch borders, dry spots and pots.
Planting Time: All year
Position: Full sun
Water Needs: Low
How Long: Thyme is ready when you are.
Whichever of the 350 thyme species you choose to plant (loads of which are available at your local nursery); all will thrive in a sunny, hot, dry spot. Thyme is a low growing (no more than 25cm) herb that spreads, so allow 20cm between each plant.
Thyme needs well-drained soil, a raised bed with a little bit of compost through it is perfect. Thyme responds well to mulch through the warmer months, but many gardeners, especially those in temperate and cool areas, remove this mulch over the colder months to allow the soil to warm.
A more low maintenance plant you couldn’t wish for! Thyme will respond well to a drink of worm wee or compost tea during spring and after flowering, but that’s it.
As for watering, with thyme it is almost unnecessary. In fact, thyme has more issues with over watering than under watering. Keep well away from thirsty plants and during warmer weather, a drink once a week should be more than sufficient.
Thyme, like many culinary herbs, can be picked as required. A perennial, thyme in the right spot should kick on for years and years. Cut back after flowering to promote vigorous, bushy growth and experiment with varieties for unusual flavours and flower colours.
Oh, and here’s a hot tip: the leaves of the common thyme Thymus vulgaris (or lemon thyme Thymus citriodora) can be steeped in boiling water for 15 minutes, strained and mixed with lemon juice and honey to make a fantastic medicinal tea, especially for sore throats. Should be avoided by pregnant women.
Thyme pic © Elaine Shallue (SGA)