Thyme is a very versatile culinary herb and very easy to grow. The basic rules are wonderful for those that don't like to fuss much in the garden: plant it in full sun, don't over-water, don't fertilize, and harvest stems regularly for cooking to encourage new growth. Most of the detailed work comes with planting, because thyme needs loose, well-draining soil to avoid root and crown rot.

I prefer planting thyme in containers because it's easier to control for good drainage. Thyme has very fine, delicate roots so transplant seedlings with care. Put a few stones in the bottom of a pot, partially fill it with potting soil mixed with a bit of sand, tap in your thyme seedling, and water it to set. Wait until the soil is dry before re-hydrating your plant, and don't let water sit in the saucer; if water collects, pour it off and give the drink to a plant that will appreciate it, like parsley). If you like to plant mixed herb containers, sage and rosemary are good partners because they thrive in similar growing conditions and provide an attractive trio of very different-looking plants.

Thyme can winter outdoors in locations with mild-to-moderate winters, but most people will need to bring plants indoors for year-round crop of leaves. Put the pot in a very sunny room or under grow lights, and be espcially cautious about watering. If the lower leaves start to blacken, it's the plant's way of asking for less water. Each plant will last about three years until the stems get woody and leaves less tasty. I call that a good investment of gardening dollars and time.

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