Thyme, which has for many, many years been valued for its smell, flavour, and medicinal value, also happens to attract bees to the garden.
Thyme is a versatile herb in the kitchen. It can be used fresh, or can be added to stocks, stuffing, and sauces. Thyme’s aroma works wonderfully in most savoury dishes: cheese, meat, fish, poultry, pasta, and even onion and mushrooms, are all improved with a bit of thyme. In fact, thyme can even be used in savoury biscuits!
Thyme can also be paired with other herbs such as marjoram and sage, or in a bouquet garni together with marjoram, parsley, and a bay leaf.
Thyme has a long history of medicinal use, as treatment for a wide range of ailments. Thyme tea, which can be made by simmering 25 gram dried thyme in 2½ cups of water for 20 minutes, helps to relieve the symptoms of respiratory tract infections, and of spasmodic coughs. It may also help calm upset stomachs. A tincture of thyme can help with acne, can be used as a disinfectant, and can help with the treatment of yeast infections.
Not surprisingly, most plants growing near thyme are invigorated by it, and thyme is an effective companion plant for cabbage, as it deters cabbage worms and root-fly.
There are more than 300 varieties of thyme, with many leaf shapes, colours, and sizes, but all with the same savoury flavour that we associate with thyme.
Common Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) is evergreen, grows into a shrub that is about 20 cm high, and has pale purple flowers and small aromatic leaves on slender stems that tends to become woody.
Lemon Thyme (Thymus x citriodorus), with its subtle lemon scent, has pink flowers. It grows into a bush about 15 cm high.
Creeping Lemon Thyme (Thymus serpyllum) is, as the name suggests, a creeping groundcover. It has pale lilac flowers and doesn't grow much higher than 8 cm, but is hardy enough to survive foot traffic, and looks pretty in containers, where it tends to grow over the edges.
Bushy thyme works well for hedges, while creeping thyme spreads out on stone and brick paths.
Thyme prefers to grow in well-drained soil, in full sun. The plant often self-propagates, especially when spreading branches touch the soil and generate roots. Thyme also grow easily from cuttings.
While thyme is a perennial plant, it needs cutting back every two years. Apart from that, thyme is almost maintenance free, and the best flavour comes from plants that have not been over-watered.
Medical disclaimer: Always consult your healthcare worker or GP for medical advice
Supplied by Canterbury HERB Society