Thyme is a healthy source of vitamin K, giving more than 60 percent of RDA in two teaspoons. It also contains iron, manganese, calcium and dietary fiber. It is an old-time remedy for chest and respiratory illness. The benefits come from the essential oils and flavonoids, which have antioxidant, antifungal and antibacterial functions. The oil thymol has antioxidant powers that help increase the good fats in cells and their membranes. It also works as an antibacterial agent against Salmonella, E. coli, Shigella and others. You can create your own surface cleaning/disinfectant spray by mixing thyme, boiling water and a little liquid soap in a spray bottle.
Vitamin and Mineral Content
Vitamins – K
Minerals – Iron, Magnesium and Calcium
Thymol oil helps fight inflammatory diseases by stopping an enzyme, elastase, from breaking down elastin, which, with collagen, affects the mechanical abilities of connective tissue, especially in the throat and lungs. Thyme also contains a collection of terpenoids, which are thought to reduce or prevent cancer tissue formation. Regularly eating thyme supports bone health and may help prevent osteoporosis and anemia.
How to Grow
Thyme is more than a nice aesthetic addition to your garden. It also attracts many pollinating insects for flowers and serves as a nutritious spice. Thyme needs a sunny spot with good drainage. Ideal pH for nutrient uptake is near 7. Add lime to raise, if needed. Two popular types of thyme are used for cooking, common and lemon thyme. Sow common thyme from seed outdoors after the last frost in spring or, more commonly, buy in containers and transplant any time. They spread a lot, so plant at least a foot apart, depending on how soon you want to establish ground cover. Thyme is tolerant of poor-quality soil. A few handfuls of planting mix will ensure nice growth. Pinch the growth tips frequently to encourage shorter, denser growth. Trim back after they flower, too, and the plant will continue to produce. You can continue to pick the leaves as you want for a fresh herb to add to a variety of dishes.
Thyme is pest free. Many insects avoid thyme, and planting it can be a great natural deterrent. Some common garden bugs, spider mites or aphids may be a problem. Spray with an insecticidal soap. You can also plant dandelions or marigolds nearby to attract ladybugs, a natural predator of aphids and mites.
The leaves have more flavor dry than fresh. Dry them in a well-ventilated area before using. Thyme is a great aromatic addition to the garden. Some types can be used as a flowering ground cover. If you live in the North, you may need to protectively cover the plants with something like large evergreen branches.