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Days to Maturity: 90 from direct sowing
Thyme is a mainstay of any self-respecting herb garden, of course, but it’s also a useful plant elsewhere in the garden. A pest repellent, it’s a natural way to keep the veggies and flowering plants looking good. Low-growing and dense, it fills in empty spots in the border nicely. Compact, it fits on the kitchen windowsill without constant pinching. It even makes a fine decorative (and fragrant) edging for any sunny spot.
This thyme is the variety most commonly used in cuisine, as the small, green leaves are packed with flavor and easy to harvest by letting the stems dry (after cutting from the plant) for a few days, then simply stripping the leaves.
This plant is a woody perennial (technically a shrub), which will bring you four to five good years of foliage before it should be replaced. (The leaves begin to lose their flavor as the stems grow woodier with age.) If allowed to go to flower, it is a marvelous bee attractant, but if you want to use the foliage in cooking, pinch off the buds as soon as you see them, because the flavor deteriorates when the plant blooms.
Expect this thyme to reach 12 to 18 inches high and about 24 inches wide. The stems are closely packed and short, standing almost straight up. Thyme will wend its way around existing plants in the garden without choking them out, making it a nice choice for filler in a garden that has a few bare areas.
Thyme can take a while to sow, but it isn’t difficult, just a procrastinator. It?should sprout within the month. Once sprouted, they thrive in high light, and may be transplanted into the garden or outdoor container as soon as they have two sets of true leaves. They need full sun, good soil drainage (add gravel or perlite to the soil if this is an issue), and a level of richness to the soil on a par with what you would give a tomato plant. Beyond this, they are famously easy, and it’s such a pleasure to have a perennial returning season after season to the herb garden?not to mention a fragrant, attractive herb fighting off the flea beetles and cabbage pests in the vegetable patch.
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