Thyme – Care About This Super Herb
Thyme is an herb I once only associated with Simon & Garfunkel’s song: Scarborough Fair. Remember? “Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme?”…Other than this song lyric, I had no knowledge of thyme.
However, when I decided to start my first herb garden this year, I knew I had to include it to complete the song’s herb requirements. 😉
At first appearance, thyme seems to be so delicate and similar to a pine branch sprig, it is tempting to dismiss it as simply a culinary herb and not much more. However, if time is taken to look at this fragile plant, you’ll be surprised at the benefits it can provide in a variety of ways.
How to Grow It
Thyme can be finicky to get started and often gardeners will opt to purchase cuttings to start, rather than trying to grow from individual seeds. Ideally, cuttings should be planted around 6 to 10 weeks (inside) prior to the last frost of the spring. When planting cuttings, they should be planted around in soil that drains well, approximately 9 inches apart.
How to Harvest it
When harvesting thyme, it is best to collect cuttings in the morning when flavor in the herb is at it’s height. Be sure to make any cuttings just above a growth nub or node to ensure the plant will continue to thrive and bush out. This will strengthen the plant and ensure future growth. Another thing to keep in mind is to take cuttings prior to blooming.
How to Dry It
Once cuttings have been taken, wash thyme thoroughly and shake the plant to get rid of excess water. This particular herb allows some options in drying because you can either dry an entire stem at one time or the individual leaves can be removed and dried. To remove leaves from the stem, simply grasp with thumb and forefinger and gently pull up the stem – the leaves will fall off easily. If using a dehydrator, place loose leaves on a rack and let dry approximately two days to ensure any excess moisture has been removed. The other option is to place leaves on a cookie sheet and simply allow natural air drying. Finally, thyme can be gathered, bundled and hung up to dry until leaves are brittle.
Great Tips for Growing and Using Thyme
How to propagate or multiply thyme from root divisions and rooting cuttings. How to root cuttings in water. How to plant thyme, harvest thyme and cook with thyme. http://www.experientialgardener.com/2012/05/growing-and-using-thyme.html
Benefits of Thyme
Thyme has a number of healing properties and a matter of note is that the active ingredient: thymol is found in two classic healers: Vicks Vapor Rub and Listerine. This herb acts as a support for both the immune system as well as, the respiratory system. In addition, it is known to improve moods, supports cells against cancer growth, powerful in aiding those with bronchitis and proves helpful in preventing poisoning or treating it after the fact.
Thyme, though a delicate looking plant, clearly has a lot to offer. Not only for its culinary traits but for the active substance – thymol. It’s interesting to see how tried and true products like Vapor Rub and Listerine fall back on this ancient plant for its ability to sterilize and to heal. Just another reason, why herbs should be looked into further for what they offer beyond just putting them in dishes we come up with in the kitchen.
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