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Perfect Thyme-ing

Is there anything that can’t be made better with a little thyme? There are so many uses for this herb, and not just in the kitchen.

Thyme is easy to grow in the garden or a container. I recommend starting with a planting or a cutting from a friend. It should go into the ground a couple of weeks before the last frost, when the soil is around 70˚F. Thyme thrives in the sun and requires little water after the initial watering. You may want to place thyme next to rosemary since their needs are the same.

Growing tthymehyme in containers allows you to reproduce the well-drained soil conditions of the Mediterranean slopes where it grows wild. Since the soil in my garden is largely heavy clay I have to use caution when planting anything that requires good drainage. Even a plant as durable as thyme can be a total bust if I don’t set the plant up for success by amending the soil with plenty of sand and pea gravel to minimize the effects of excessive moisture. Thyme is evergreen in most zones, but when it really gets cold I try to cover the plants with frost blankets to preserve the foliage and help the plant winter over.

The more thyme you use, the more it grows. When cutting it, be sure to leave at least five inches of growth so the plant can flourish.

Thyme leaves can be used fresh or dried. You can even freeze them with water in ice cube trays to use in soup and stews throughout the year.

Use Your Thyme Wisely:

  • Infuse your honey, honey! The process is simple. Place the thyme at the bottom of a jar. Pour the honey over the thyme and seal the jar. Taste the honey after a few days until it’s to your liking. Then strain your honey and throw away the thyme. Thyme-infused honey is wonderful in marinades and desserts. I like to put some in my iced tea for a little extra flavor.
  • Flavor your olive oil. I love using flavored olive oils in salad dressing. I take a few springs of fresh thyme, bruise them with a spoon and place them in a glass bottle. Then add 1 tablespoon of fresh peppercorns and 2 tablespoons of dried lemon rind. Pour a high quality olive oil over the ingredients to fill the bottle. Seal the bottle and store for two weeks before using.
  • Knock out cold symptoms. Thyme is known to help relieve congestion and calm coughing spasms. For a little steam therapy, fill a heat-proof pot or bowl with some just-boiled water and stir in 2 spoons of fresh or dried thyme. Lean over the vessel, drape a towel over your head to create a sort of “steam tent” and breathe in the vapors for up to 10 minutes.
  • Soothe your skin. Apply thyme oil to acne. Its antiseptic properties can help clear up zits. It also works well to relieve itching and razor burn.
  • Keep bugs at bay. Rub thyme oil on your skin to fight off mosquitoes.