Delicate thyme creeps along the ground, rooting and producing new plants whenever branches touch the soil. This hardy perennial returns each year with an abundance of tiny green or variegated leaves that produce tiny purple blooms in midsummer. As a culinary herb, thyme flavors soups, stews and meats, enhancing natural flavors in the food and imparting a hint of earthy flavor of its own. Once established, thyme requires little care other than sheering back to promote a flush of new growth.
Select a garden area in full sun and till the soil to a depth of 6 to 8 inches. Remove rocks, roots and other debris and rake the area smooth.
Amend soil with well-rotted manure or compost. Spread a 2- to 4-inch layer on top of the soil and work it into the soil with a hoe or rake This improves drainage and aeration.
Dig a 6-inch hole and position the thyme seedling in the hole so the roots spread over the soil. Fill in around the roots with soil and firm down with your hands to secure the plant. Space plants 8 to 10 inches apart.
Water thoroughly to moisten the soil to the root level and keep moist for the first 7 to 10 days. Although thyme is drought tolerant, young seedlings require adequate water to adjust to the new growing environment. Once established, water thyme deeply once a week.
Fertilize sparingly with water-soluble fertilizer only when thyme shows signs of delayed or stunted growth. Herbs thrive in poor soil. Overly-rich soil inhibits the production of oils responsible for their flavor and scent.
Cut thyme back to within 2 inches from the ground in midsummer after the first flush of blooms to encourage new growth. Repeat in fall several weeks before the first hard frost.
Begin harvesting leaves when plants are 4 inches high, before they begin to bloom.