Thyme is TOUGH!

jasonkJanuary 14, 2009

Just a little story: Thyme is my absolute favourite dried herb. I have 6 plants (Thymus vulgaris) in my garden and decided to try growing one in a pot outside this summer past. It went OK but the pot was too small and the plant dried out regularly and became root-bound. Around harvest time I pulled it out of the pot and threw it in my bin of recovered potting soil, figuring that was it for this little experiment. The roots were so spread out it came out in one solid clump like a popsicle and I didn't feel like breaking it up, so I just threw it on top of the soil, put the pot to the side and forgot about it.

Cut to a couple of weeks ago. I was outside gathering some frozen leaves for my worm bin, and I went into the shed to see my now thoroughly frozen thyme plant. We had seen below freezing temps for a couple of months and, being in this shed the plant had not received a single ray of sunlight for 3 months. I saw it and decided to make it part of another experiment. I separated it from the soil it was sitting on top of (taking a chunk out of the side since it was frozen solid) and threw it into its old pot, bringing it inside to thaw out. Once thawed I threw some worm castings on top and watered it, then put it in a window.

After pruning, it's clearly still alive and what's more it's sprung back to life! It's putting out about 1/2" of new growth a day it seems.

Now I suppose this shouldn't come as much of a shock since it survives in my garden, which is now frozen solid and sitting under a foot and a half of snow, but seeing this plant - that was dry and under-watered when I neglectfully removed it from its pot and left in a place that then received zero light and froze for several months - immediately come back to life is pretty amazing to me. Thyme gets my vote for not only best pantry herb but spunkiest garden plant.

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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

My thyme is outside in the ground next to my greenhouse. Started from seeds two years ago, it has not failed me yet. I can go out in zero degrees and snip off leaves and stems if I need some. Most of it is under a lot of ice and snow right now. Another hardy one is my wild onions that are green all winter and look like, smell like, and taste like chives.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2009 at 10:34PM
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jessicavanderhoff(7 Md)

I'm jealous! I've been waiting weeks for thyme seeds to sprout. It's not looking good. . . .

    Bookmark   January 29, 2009 at 12:11AM
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I made a small tomato and herb garden in the strip of dirt between the house and walkway. I put one thyme plant in there. After that first year I moved away and my parents let the garden go to the weeds. Three years later I move back in and the only herb to survive was the thyme. I think the oregano held on for a year or two but the weeds or the sun got it.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2009 at 1:21AM
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zengeos(5 Maine)

Jessica, I had terrific luck winter sowing my thyme last year. Check out the wintersowing area for more info if you haven't already. Wintersowing is now my main seed starting method.

Of course, I still start my toms and peppers inside and my other non hardy annuals....but 75-80% of my seeds are now simply wintersown.


    Bookmark   February 13, 2009 at 8:42PM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Add a bit of heat under the pots of thyme seeds. Also, use a very good quality seed starting mix, something that is sterile. If not, many seeds can die due to damping off and fungal diseases that reside in soil. I never have any seed sprouting problems and have even been able to grow rosemary from seeds, as well as double blossom impatiens which need cool temps to sprout. If the thyme seeds are old, more than a year or two, they may not be viable anymore. I also sprout asparagus from seeds and these take nearly a month to emerge as very tiny spears. I do plant dill outside, but get better results if I wait until about April.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2009 at 1:48AM
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I brought in a spearmint from the garden last fall, and set it in the sun of the guest room. Then, we didn't have guests for a few months, and I discovered it, dried and dead. Well, procrastination leads to procrastination, and it sat there, un-watered and dead all winter.

Just two days ago, it started sending up shoots. It hasn't been watered in six months, and I have no idea what triggered it, but there it is, with shoots 8 inches tall already. I think I'll try watering it next. :)

    Bookmark   February 16, 2009 at 9:57PM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Maybe its weed seeds that sprouted?

    Bookmark   February 17, 2009 at 11:10AM
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It's definitely spearmint - I've already enjoyed the little tips in some tea. :) But yes, they could be coming up from seed just as well as the dormant/dead main plant.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2009 at 11:24AM
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