It’s a perennial herb with many branches with pink flowers. The herb is pleasant and it’s used in food flavoring having a lucrative export market in the European countries. Kenyans got a less exploited venture, growing the herbs but the main challenge to many is meeting the quantity demanded alongside quality attributes as per market specifications.
Does well in varied climatic conditions-most herbs can do in arid and semi arid areas, soil must be well drained with a slightly alkaline ph but thrives well at ph of 7-8.0 The crop will grow well in full sun, 6-8hrs exposure is ideal.
Should be ploughed well, weeds and other debris removed. Add manure mixed with the soil. Phosphate fertilizer or rock phosphate can be as well applied and mixed with the soil to enhance fast crop establishment. Row cropping will be nice to ensure that the crop is well exposed to sunlight for good quality leaves.
The crop can propagated from seeds or vegetative materials using plant divisions. Seeds take long to germinate roughly up to 12 weeks and it’s hard to germinate the seeds as they require technical attention. Below are steps involved in germinating the seeds;
- Gently scatter seeds over the soil in the container you will be planting thyme seeds.
- Gently scatter soil over the seeds.
- Water thoroughly. Cover with plastic wrap.
- Place the container in a warm location. Seeds will germinate in 12 weeks.
Planting should be done at a spacing of 30cm by 30cm
Watering- Thyme is a hardy herb and require less water but constant supply for better performance. The crop responds well under drip irrigation which also minimizes leaf-based fungal infections.
Weed control-keep the field weeds free throughout the growing period, mechanical weeding is best since the underground weed structures can be easily removed. Care should be taken not to disturb the plant mostly the roots, injury to the plant will create secondary route of infections.
Pest control-main pests are aphids, spider mites and white flies. Use a broad spectrum insecticide to control the pests. For white flies plant mint on the field borders, since the pest love feeding mint they will crowd there from which “spot spraying” can be done. For commercial purposes cucumeris and californicus may be used against mites, and diglyphus aginst aphids .
Disease management- main threats are leaf spots and stem rot. Ensure proper hygiene on the farm, appropriate chemicals may be used in case of heavy infections; liaise with your local agricultural experts for advisory.
Crop growth and development is directly related to feeding holding other factors constant. Right from the start plant nutrition should be key to every grower; well fed plants are able to thrive well during stressful moments. During stressful moments bio-stimulants such as hi-cure can be used to boost vegetative growth and keep biotic/non biotic stresses under check.
NB: Avoid over fertilizing the crop as this may result in flavor loss and become gangly.
Harvest the stems just before blooming.
The stems should be dried to avoid mold development during storage. The dries product should be kept in air tight containers in dim/dark areas as light and moisture degrade the herb’s flavor.