How to grow the thyme
The thyme (Thymus vulgaris L. 1753) is an aromatic perennial species of the Lamiaceae family that grows up to 30 cm in height with tortuous and woody stems and a very branched square section that can be grown in bushes. Thyme cultivation is possible both in open fields and in pots. In this sheet we will see how to grow the thyme, also known as the common thyme and the most appropriate agronomic techniques.
Since the thyme is a native plant of the European temperate climate it grows well especially in warm areas with little rainfall. For its cultivation it is enough to find light, draining and calcareous soils (it grows optimally in chalky soils) and a sunny position. In soils with acidic pH the thymus does not find its ideal conditions. For this reason, even in pot cultivation, contrary to how it is done routinely, a substratum very similar to that of its areas of origin must be prepared; then calcareous or chalky soils with an addition of 30% of compost or organic pH-neutral substance. Due to its characteristics, the thyme also lends itself to ornamental plants in the rock gardens, both for its rusticity and for the fact that it does not fear cold, neither frost nor the scorching heat for which it does not need special care.
The cultivation of the thyme can start from cuttings or from sowing. For sowing the ideal period is between the end of March and the beginning of April (to be delayed slightly in colder environments).
It is better to sow in a box filled with soil and peat (not acidic). When the seedlings will be quite developed, that is between July and August, they must be planted in open field or in pot; in this last case the container must have a diameter of about 30 cm, or a planter if you have to put more plants.
If you start from cuttings the optimal period for the cultivation of thyme is between the months of March, April, May or September – October.
The pruning of the thyme is important to ensure constant vegetative growth. As the thyme tends to grow in bushes it is necessary to prune the plant by severing all the dry and brittle branches. In this way the plant will be aerated, it will be possible to renew the jets and, at the same time, always abundant flowering. The best time to prune the thyme falls between March and May. As for adversities, the thyme is one of the most rustic plants in existence.
The thymus can be easily preserved by drying it. The harvest should be done when the plant has reached full bloom and the plants should be placed in a dry and ventilated area. It can be eaten fresh and in this case it is an aroma that can be used in salads, sauces, or to season roasted meat.
Recall that essential oil is extracted from the thyme. As an orientation with a cultivation of one thousand square meters, 5 – 6 liters of essential thyme oil can be obtained. The thyme essential oil is extracted by steam distillation.
One of the most interesting components of thyme is thymol, a natural antiseptic used for the production of Listerine (mouthwash) and hand sanitizers. The essential oil of thyme is effective against various fungi and is an ancient natural remedy to counteract the classic fungal infections of the toenails.