Thymus vulgaris, common thyme is a shrub-like perennial.
Easy to grow from seed though germination is slow taking from 14 to 28 days. Seeding best started indoors in a flat where temperature can be kept around 70°. Thyme seeds are very small, 170,000 to the ounce. One ounce needed to plant one acre.
Sow thyme seed in sterilized growing medium either in shallow rows or scatter on top with little or no covering. After they take root, have been transplanted to 2- 1/4" peat pots and reach a height of 2-3 inches, they may be moved outside to cooler weather. For small gardens, space plants about 9 inches apart, for field production space plants 12-18 inches apart in rows 3 feet apart.
Thyme prefers a sandy, dry soil. Avoid planting in heavy, wet soils. Nutrient requirements for Thyme are not heavy, so soil should only receive a moderate amount of fertilizer. Diluted fish emulsion may be used in the early summertime.
Important to control weeds as they compete for nutrients with the slow-developing young thyme plants. Once established the plants would benefit from mulch to help discourage weeds. This also keeps the lower branches clean, whereas open cultivation exposes the lower branches to rain’s action on bare soil.
Harvest thyme just before the flowers begin to open, by cutting the plant one and a half to 2 inches from the ground. A second growth will develop but this should not be cut at all. This would reduce the plant’s winter hardiness. Although a hardy perennial, thyme plants need care over the winter months to survive the cold.
After harvesting, lay the cut plants on sheets of newspaper or fine screen and allow them to dry in the warm shade. When dry, the leaves will separate from the woody stems easily if rubbed lightly.
Every spring cut thyme plants back to half its previous height to retain the tender stems and bushy habit. After 3-4 years plants will become woody and you will want to start over again from seed.
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