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BONNIE'S GARDEN--Thyme

Thyme or “Thymus vulgaris” is yet another member of the mint family—along with rosemary, oregano, sage, lavender, etc. It is native to Europe, North Africa and Asia.  It was used by ancient Egyptians in the embalming process and by the ancient Greeks as incense in their temples.  In the Middle Ages, sprigs of thyme were often given to knights as it was thought it lent courage.

Today it is one of the herbs in a “bouquet garni” and “herbes de Provence.”  It is used fresh or dried.  It blends particularly well with other Mediterranean seasonings like garlic, olive oil, rosemary, and tomatoes and has an affinity for poultry, potatoes, and eggs.  Unlike some herbs, like cilantro, thyme is best adding while cooking, rather than afterwards, so heat can break down the essential oils and extract the most flavor.

Oil of Thyme or thymol is a common ingredient in some mouthwashes as it is a fairly effective antiseptic.  It was used to medicate bandages before the days of modern antibiotics. 

There are many different varieties of thyme to choose between.  English, French, caraway, lemon, and “common” thyme are the ones most often used culinarily.  Mother of Thyme, Creeping Red Thyme, and Woolly Thyme are used ornamentally.  Some thymes are used as groundcovers inbetween pavers, for example.  Most thymes bloom with white, lavender or pink flowers that are very pollinator friendly.  Unlike annual herbs like basil and cilantro, blooming does not affect either the flavor or productivity of thyme.

Like most Mediterranean herbs, thyme loves sunny, well-draining (even dry) soil.  The main reason it sometimes dies out, usually has to do with staying too wet, so planting it in areas which get hit with automatic sprinklers is not a good idea.  It can grow indoors in a south-facing window, if necessary.  It is not a particularly heavy feeder, so an application of a good organic fertilizer a couple of times over the course of a summer is all that is necessary
Posted: 5/25/2015 by Bonnie Pega | with 0 comment(s)
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