How to fertilize Thyme plants
Thyme is famous for growing in non-fertile soils that are unsuitable for most other crops. Old farmers claimed that thyme and lavender are two of very few crops that do not need any fertilizer. However, growing commercially thyme in today’s competitive landscape requires certain steps towards monitoring, improving and enriching soil nutrients, so that our plants can give sustainably high yields for 5-7 years. As it happens in every other crop, there can’t be any universal fertilization scheme, because every field is different and has different needs. Performing soil analysis once a year is extremely important in order to diagnose nutrient deficiencies and take corrective actions, under the guidance of a licensed agronomist.
In general, growing organic thyme for essential oil is easier than growing organically other herbs, as the plant has minimum fertilization requirements in the average soil. As a rule of thumb, when we grow thyme for plant material and we intend to perform 2 harvesting sessions, we may need to apply higher quantities of fertilizers than when we grow thyme for essential oil.
Thyme growers often add 8-12 tons of well-rotted manure per hectare and plow well before they transplant the young seedlings. Since we grow thyme for its leaves, the plant responds well to Nitrogen fertilization up to a certain level. A common fertilization scheme involves adding 400 lbs. (181 kg) of ammonium phosphate (N-P-K 16-20-0) per hectare during late autumn (1 hectare = 2,47 acres = 10.000m2). In cases of N,P,K deficiencies, farmers often apply soil fertilizer N-P-K 20-20-20 (200 lbs. or 90 kg per hectare) and plow well before transplanting.
However, these are just common patterns that should not be followed without making your own research. Every field is different and has different needs. You can seek advice from a licensed agronomist after conducting a soil analysis.
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Thyme Fertilizer Requirements
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