Have you ever wondered why thyme is one of the most popular herbs to grow in the garden? Well, I’ve got you covered.
The thyme plant is one of the most popular culinary herbs and is one of the essential ingredients in any chef’s pantry.
If you’ve ever had the pleasure of eating fresh, homegrown thyme, you know that it’s one of the most fragrant, delicious, and versatile herbs available. Thyme has a wide range of therapeutic benefits and has been used for thousands of years in traditional medicine.
This post will take you through the basics of growing thyme and give you some background on how it has been used throughout history. We’ll also touch on the health benefits and popular culinary uses of this delicious and nutritious herb.
It’s a great herb to add to your outdoor garden or grow indoors throughout the winter months.
What Is Thyme?
Thyme is a low-growing, perennial herb with a beautiful aroma and taste that you can use in a wide range of recipes. It is also a powerful healing herb with a host of health benefits.
The culinary herb thyme, also called garden thyme, is native to Europe and the Mediterranean region, but today it is grown worldwide. It has been cultivated for thousands of years, and its history dates back to the ancient Greeks, who used it as a perfume in the home and bath.
Today it is still a popular ingredient in cooking and one of the most popular herbs to grow in the garden.
Varieties of Thyme
There are many different types of thyme plants. The most widely used variety is Thymus Vulgaris, also called garden or common thyme. Additional varieties include French Thyme, lemon thyme, and creeping thyme. All of these varieties have unique uses and benefits.
For example, lemon thyme is best used for cooking dishes that have a sweet or citrus flavor.
Growing Common Thyme Plants in the Garden
Thyme is easy to grow from seed, and you can plant it in almost any garden, even in soil that contains clay. You can either plant seeds directly in the ground or begin with starter plants from the nursery. The only requirement is a well-drained area with plenty of sunlight.
Thyme plants require full sun in the garden and do best with six or more hours of sunlight. It is a perennial, low-growing shrubby herb that reaches between six and twelve inches high.
The leaves on the thyme plant are small and narrow on tough stems. In the spring, thyme has abundant blooms in various shades of white, pink, lavender, or purple.
Companion Planting with Thyme
Thyme makes an excellent companion plant in the vegetable garden since the flowers attract pollinators of all kinds. Bees, butterflies, and many other insects will flock to your thyme plants when they are in full bloom.
It also has insect repelling properties and will deter cabbage months. This makes thyme a perfect companion for broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and kale that can otherwise become targets of this garden pest.
See Companion Planting With Thyme to find all the other ways growing thyme can improve the health of other garden plants.
Growing Thyme in Pots
Due to its compact nature, thyme is a natural for the container garden. You can grow it in its own pot or combine it with other Mediterranean herbs such as Rosemary, Sage, and Basil.
Growing Thyme Indoors
Thyme is an easy herb to grow indoors. Its woody stems and low watering needs make it a low-maintenance addition to the kitchen garden. Thyme does require full sun to thrive, so give it a bright, south-facing window or supplemental light.
Propagation: Starting New Plants
You can start new plants from seed, cuttings, layering, or root division.
Health Benefits of Thyme
Thyme is known to have a wide range of medicinal benefits. The leaves have a strong flavor and are used in teas, oils, and other herbal remedies.
Whether you are cooking, making tea, or using it directly as a medicine, this herb is a good source of vitamin C and A. It also contains healthy amounts of copper, iron manganese, and a rich source of fiber.
The more common herbal remedies using thyme include improving digestion, relieving stress, lowering blood pressure, and increasing energy.
The oil in thyme has been shown to be effective against bacterial infections, making it a great herb for treating colds and the flu. You can use it in various forms, such as teas, ointments, or salves.
Thyme: Its Origin and Uses in History
Many cultures have used the thyme plant for culinary, medicinal, and religious purposes.
- The ancient Egyptians used it in the embalming process for their mummification.
- The ancient Greeks used thyme to scent their baths and freshen their homes as incense.
- The Romans were really the ones to introduce thyme to our palates. Due to its beautiful aroma and flavor, they added it as a flavoring for cheese and liqueurs.
- The Romans then, introduced it to Europe, where it was used for food preservation and flavor dishes.
To this day, thyme is used in a wide range of dishes, including game, fish, poultry, and eggs. In addition, it is used to flavor sauces, soups, and stews.
Cooking With The Herb Thyme
Thyme is part of the mint genus and is cousins with oregano. No wonder they complement each other so well when combined.
In Mediterranean dishes, thyme is one of the most important herbs and blends beautifully with tomato, garlic, and olives used throughout the recipes of the region. Thyme gives soups and stews a savory, rich flavor that enhances the taste of beef, lamb, and other strong game meats.
Other culinary uses of thyme include adding flavor to vegetables, eggs, and creamy sauces such as the Bearnaise sauce. It is a very versatile herb and can be used fresh or dried.
Thyme is a hardy, perennial herb that is easy to grow and a favorite to include in our food gardens. Its hardy and pest-resistant nature makes it an excellent choice for gardeners of all skill levels.
Not only does it make a good companion plant, but it also has many health benefits, from tummy-settling teas to thyme-infused oils. This versatile herb will adapt well to any garden style and deserves a starring role in the home herb garden.