Herb Thyme

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Thyme is an easy and practical herb to grow. Highly aromatic, it enhances meat dishes, eggs, cheeses, soups, and sauces.

Light requirements Full sun is ideal, but plants can grow in part shade.

Planting Space 12 to 24 inches apart, depending on type. Check plant tags to confirm correct spacing.

Soil requirements Plants grow best in sharply-drained, slightly alkaline soil with a pH of 7.0. Lime soil if needed. Improve drainage and add lime by working limestone gravel into planting areas.

Water requirements Keep soil moist after planting until plants are well-rooted. Once established, plants in beds survive on rainfall. In containers, irrigate whenever soil is dry. Mulch with limestone gravel or builder’s sand to improve drainage and prevent root rot.

Frost-fighting plan Use a frost blanket to protect newly planted seedlings from late spring frosts or prolong the fall growing season. In coldest zones, cover plants with pine boughs after soil freezes to help protect from winter damage.

Common issues Fungus diseases occur in humid climates. In zone 10, thyme is an annual due to high humidity and fungal diseases. Root rot is common in poorly drained soil. Watch out for spider mites.

Growing tip Cut thyme back by one-third in spring, always cutting above points where you can see new growth, never below into a leafless woody stem.

Harvesting Pick leaves at any point in the growing season, although flavor is most intense just before plants bloom. You can also harvest through winter in places where thyme is evergreen. Pick individual leaves, or snip leafy stems to the length you desire.

Storage Keep a few stems in water at room temperature to enjoy fresh clippings for a week. To store in your refrigerator, wrap dry, unwashed stems in a damp paper towel, and stash in a tightly closed plastic bag. Place in a door compartment, which is warmer. Use within 7 to 10 days. For longer storage, dry leaves.