With the summer heat now upon us, it’s time – no pun intended- to harvest some of our herbs. Here in the Central Valley of Oregon, things are a bit trickier, gardening wise, so we need to pick hardy perennials. With that in mind, let me introduce you to our Herb of the Month-Thyme.
Thyme is a member of the mint family. It is generally a low growing perennial, winter hardy to zone five. Leaves are dark, gray green in color and the labiate flowers are tiny and generally pink. Blooms in early to midsummer. There are many tiny oval-shaped leaves on each slender, woody stem.
Thyme comes in over fifty varieties with different fragrances and flavors. Fresh or English thyme are used most often in cooking.
A native of the Mediterranean, Thyme was spread throughout Europe and used frequently by the Romans. Their soldiers added it to their bathwater to increase bravery, strength, and vigor. It enjoyed a long association with bravery. In Medieval England, ladies embroidered sprigs of thyme into their knights’ scarves to increase their bravery. In Scotland, highlanders brewed tea to increase courage and keep away nightmares.
Thyme is also a purificatory herb; the Greeks burned it in their temples to purify them and so thyme is often burned prior to magical rituals to cleanse the area. In spring a magical cleansing bath composed of marjoram and thyme is taken to ensure all the sorrows and ills of the past are removed from the person.
It is said that places where wild thyme grows are blessed by fae, and due to this association thyme is often used in work regarding fae.
- Plant: Thyme
- Latin Name: Thymus vulgaris
- Family: Lamiaceae
- Folk Names: Garden Thyme, Common Thyme
- Elements: Water
- Energy: Feminine
- Planet: Venus
- Astrological Signs: Aries, Capricorn, Libra, Taurus
- Deities: Aphrodite, Aries, Freya, Hecate, Mars, The Fae
Magickal Uses of the Herb of the Month-Thyme
Parts used – Whole Herb
- Banishing Negativity
- Dream Work
- Fairy Magick
- Heighten Empathy
- Psychic Abilities
Magickal Ways to Use Thyme
- A pillow stuffed with thyme dispels nightmares and promotes positive dreams.
- Wearing a sprig of thyme in your hair makes you more approachable.
- Add thyme to your bathwater to increase courage.
- When working hard to achieve a goal that seems un-achievable, thyme can be used in spells to help you keep a positive attitude.
Thyme can grow in the ground or in a container. Either is left outside in wintertime. New leaves will emerge within the early spring. Thyme thrives in full sun and loves heat. Thyme likes well-drained soil as it doesn’t like “wet feet.” In the garden, plant with other drought-tolerant perennials.
It’s hard to grow thyme from seeds as they are slow to germinate and easily “drowned”. It is much simpler, and more satisfying, to buy the plants from a garden center or take some cuttings from a friend. Over time, you can propagate from your own cuttings.
Plant cuttings or young thyme plants any time after the ground temperature reaches 70°F. This is usually 2 to 3 weeks before the last spring frost in well-drained soil about 9 inches apart.
Space young plants 12 to 24 inches apart, depending upon the specific variety. They will spread out quite a bit so they need plenty of room.
Thyme does well in greenhouses and even indoors with proper grow lights and moisture levels. This is important in Central Oregon as are many micro-climates can make growing any herbs a challenge.
Thyme is used most often to flavor soups, stews, meats and veggies. I use it in my pasta sauce, beans and sprinkle it into chicken soup. It’s great on roasted potatoes, and even in fresh bread.
Thyme can be used either fresh or dried. Dried has a more powerful flavor so use less than you would fresh, roughly one third of the dried herb compared to fresh. When using fresh you can use the entire stem (remove the stem before serving) or remove the leaves from the stems and sprinkle into your dish.
Thyme infused vinegar is a wonderful way to add flavor to salads and veggies. Fill a jar with fresh thyme (dried can be used in a pinch but it is harder to strain) and then cover with white wine vinegar. Let the jar sit for several days to a week. You will know when it is ready when the vinegar has a strong thyme taste. Strain the vinegar and discard the thyme. Place back in the jar or a fancy serving decanter.
Medicinal Uses of Thyme
The information provided below is for educational purposes only and is not to be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Before using any herb medicinally, always consult with your physician.
Thyme is often used for acute respiratory infections including coughs and colds. It can sooth gastrointestinal issues such as diarrhea, gas, and indigestion.
Thyme is a powerful disinfectant and antiseptic when used both externally – as a wash – and internally in a tea or tincture.
Some benefits of using Thyme are:
- fighting acne
- lowering blood pressure
- helping to alleviate cough
- boosting immunity
- repelling pests
- boosting mood
- preventing bacterial infections
- helping to treat yeast infections
- possibly helping against certain types of cancer
Our Herb of the Month-Thyme, is an amazing plant. It is hardy, easy to grow, great for cooking and packed with medicinal benefits. May this humble yet amazing plant grace your garden and bring you joy.
Sources: Gladstar, Rosemary, Medicinal Herbs, a Beginner’s Guide, Storey Publishing 2012; Tierra, Michael, The Way of Herbs, Pocket Books, 1988