Thyme- A Tiny Herb with Big Flavor


Holly K. Ross

How To Grow & Use Thyme

This is one of those little plants that laughs in the face of a southern summer and remains undaunted by a few freezes.  It is fabulous!  It is a perfect choice for edging the bed or filling in between the stones.

The creeping variety has grown in every herb garden I have ever had, spreading between the rock stepping stones or beautifully filling an edge. Harvesting this little herb is a must or it will cover the stones.  But, even thought it is vigorous, it is not a bully to other plants or invasive.

Being that Thyme is a perennial, it is easiest to start with a seedling in the garden.  Soggy places are no good for Thyme as it likes will drained soil.  Lots of sun is a must, but a little afternoon shade in a southern summer is greatly appreciated.  This is an extremely easy plant to grow. If you are a beginner, this would be a good choice to start with in your herb or flower garden.

English Thyme in the garden.
Lemon Thyme rocking a garden edge.

There are so many varieties of thyme!

Some have variegated foliage, different scents, and different flavors, but all grow in much the same way.

Some popular types of thyme are:

  • English Thyme
  • French Thyme
  • Lemon Thyme
  • Orange Thyme
  • Creeping Thyme
  • Chintz Thyme
  • Lavender Thyme

I could keep going, but you get the idea!

While Thyme is at home in the garden looking beautiful and blooming early in the spring, it would be a shame to leave it in the garden when it makes food taste so good!

With Thyme being available in the garden year round, there is no reason not use fresh Thyme in all your cooking.  Just snip off what you need and chop it finely or tie the sprigs together with kitchen twine and remove before serving.  Thyme is a well-mannered herb and is not given to being over-powering in a dish.  To a roasted chicken, I will sprinkle about 2 teaspoons over the skin or add about 2 tablespoons to a pot of soup.  Your personal tastes really are the determining factor in how much to use. Experience is the best teacher, so give it a try.

Matches well with: beef, carrots, chicken, figs, fish, goat cheese, lamb, lentils, onions, peas, pork, potatoes, soups, tomatoes, venison.

For me, it was surprising to see that Thyme is classified as a Southern European and Mediterranean ingredient.  I thought it was totally southern cooking.  When you think of decidedly southern dishes such as Chicken n’ Dumplins, Turkey & Dressing, Roast Chicken, Meatloaf, and so on, Thyme is a key player in creating the warm comforting tones of these dishes.  If I am boiling chicken for almost anything, I have Thyme in the pot, too.  Nothing beats the flavor of a lightly battered filet of fish with Thyme mixed in the flour and cornmeal, I don’t care who you are- that is good right there!

However; some days it may not be very convenient to get to the garden, so I like to keep dried herbs in the pantry. To dry Thyme, cut as much as you want from the plant- but never taking more than two thirds of the mother plant- and using a rubber band, secure the stems and hang in a dry place with good air circulation.  I have a little “clothes line” strung above my refrigerator where I clip bunches of herbs for drying.  As you can see in the photo to the right, I use the same type of string across shelves in my kitchen, as well.

Drying herbs in a kitchen is as easy as hanging a string with clothespins.

Once dry, which will take about 2 weeks, remove the leaves from the stems and place the leaves in a air-tight container and store out of the sunlight.  Dried herbs keep for about 6 months and any extra you may have makes great gift ideas.

Do you grow and use Thyme? Tell me about it in the comments below!

Has gardening been a struggle for you? If you answered, “yes” you are not alone! No one is born with a green thumb, but we can all learn!

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