Thyme growing abundantly in an herb garden.
image by chamomile/morguefile.com
No herb garden would be complete without the attractive and useful thyme plant thriving in a sunny corner. Thyme is a popular herb in the kitchen as well as the garden. Thyme grows easily and can even make a beautiful border plant with its lush green foliage and wonderful scent. Start thyme seeds indoors in the early spring, and then transplant the seedlings outside for a wonderful perennial herb that will return year after year.
Fill the seeding tray three-quarters full with the seed starting soil. Sow the thyme seeds across the top of the potting soil. Because thyme seeds are very tiny, cover them with a very thin layer of soil and spray the surface of the soil with the spray bottle.
Keep the soil evenly moist and watch for seedlings to sprout within one week. Place the seeding tray under a grow light set approximately 12 inches above the tray. Thin the seedlings so that the strongest seedlings are growing approximately four inches apart when the seedlings are about two inches high.
Prepare the growing area after all frost threat has passed. Work the soil with the spade, and spread 1 inch of compost over the top of the soil. Work the compost in well and rake the area smooth.
Harden the seedlings off approximately one week before transplanting outside. Move the seedlings outside for three hours in the afternoon, placing them in a sheltered area out of direct sunlight. Gradually move the seedlings to a less sheltered area that does receive sunlight over the course of one week, keeping them outside for a longer period each day.
Plant the seedlings outside approximately 18 inches apart in the prepared area, placing them at the same level they were growing in the seedling tray. Water the plants thoroughly after planting.
Remove weeds carefully from around the plants throughout the growing season. Mulch around the plants with straw to keep the soil moist and prevent weeds. Give water if the weather conditions are dry, but do not make the thyme plants soggy.
Harvest minimally during the first growing season to allow the thyme plant to establish. During subsequent summers, harvest the thyme immediately before the plant flowers. This will encourage the plant to grow abundantly during the rest of the summer. Leave this second growth on the plant throughout the winter.
Place shredded mulch over the roots of the thyme plant in late autumn to protect the plant throughout the winter months. This mulch will also provide the thyme with nutrients for the upcoming growing season.