If you're wealthy you can just buy plants and shit loads of seeds. I'm not and i like to come up with techniques to propagate as many plants by myself as i possibly can. Therefore i share this technique with the people here, it must have saved me 500 dollars today.
i replanted 500 thyme seedlings today. I use them to make mini-hedges on the north side of my beds. It makes a clear border between path and bed, blocks soil from eroding onto the path, it attracts bees and other pollinators , repels some insects/snails, it can take a lot of cutting if i want the herb. It doesn't get out of control big, it will block a bit of wind and create a tiny sun trap. Normally they stay fit for five years or so then they die. I plant them out every 4 inch about(10 cm).
It's easy to propagate from seed. I use long balcony trays, i find them better than small pots, i guess the seeds excrete a hormone or something when germinating, which helps their brethren to germinate as well, they pop up en masse, more then in seperate pots or if i seed locally where i want my hedges to be. But it can be hard to not overseed, or sometimes they come up too strong, with too many, they hinder each others development. Some get bigger others lack growth. So i had to seperate them into too small ones , normal ones and ones with side branches. I've discarded the too small ones repotted the normal ones and the branched ones i've planted in the beds where they'll grow all autumn, winter and spring to form mini-hedges by the time summer arrives, i hope..
The normal ones had something like ten leaves and some roots, it can be problematic to get the roots in deep enough if you fill a tray with soil and make small holes and fiddle the roots in. It takes a lot of time (thyme) and patience which i don't have too much of.. So I had to come up with a technique. I use it quite regularly replanting lettuces in beds and small fiddly plants. I've never read this anywhere, although it's possible everybody already knows this technique.
- I throw some earth on one side forming a dike in the tray, then lay five thyme plants on top. Because of the angle they just lay there.
- then throw some soil on the roots and add another row of thyme plants etc, etc.
Now every thyme seedling has an even space to grow, the small weak ones are gone, the big ones in mini hedges where the replanted ones will go later when they're bigger and have side branches.
Awesome post, and useful info for transplanting, not only for thyme.
For thyme, I think it looks like it will put down roots if a branch is held down on or in the soil. Does that work too? I thought I might expand my puny thyme plant by "layering," ie putting a branch along the soil and holding it down with a small stone.
Works at a residential alternative high school in the Himalayas SECMOL.org . "Back home" is Cape Cod, E Coast USA.
Thank you Dave and Rebecca, this method just came about while transplanting salads in beds, trying to be quick. It happened before i realized what i was doing kind of thing. It saves a lot of time and frustration. It will work with all plants that have quite tough roots. The separating of them they must be able to handle. You've got to tear them apart slowly, but in case it jams then separate them with a sudden pull, surely breaking roots. Not all plants can handle that. And they take time to recover the inevitable loss of some root mass. But nothing is perfect.
You can layer thyme, but i found the newly won plants don't grow as vigorously as the ones from seed. They are a bit woody often from the bottom up, the seeded ones are new growth from the bottom up, it just explodes in a year. It's easy to save thyme seed, just cut the flowers off when they start going brown and you got it.
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