How to - Gardening with Kids

Kids and windowsill herbs

Tina Forrester

Building and caring for an herb garden

Once chives bloom, cut the plants back a section at a time to encourage new growth. Kids can dry the chive blossoms for simple floral arrangements. Just lay the blossoms, stems attached, on a fine mesh screen; place in a dark, well-ventilated area until they are dry. Another easy project for kids is to make soft-pink chive-flavoured vinegar: simply pour warm cider vinegar into a jar filled with blossoms, cover and store in a dark place for four to six weeks. Then strain the vinegar through cheesecloth, pour into a pretty bottle and use in cooking and homemade salad dressing.

Believed by ancient Greeks to give strength and fortitude, thyme is a pungent perennial, a member of the mint family. During Medieval times, the herb represented bravery, and aristocratic women embroidered pictures of it on scarves for their knights.

Of the more than 400 varieties, garden thyme (also known as common thyme) is the kind most often grown. It's a shrubby perennial that grows 15 to 30 centimetres tall with pale grey-green leaves and delicate mauve flowers. To sow, cover seed with three centimetres of fine soil, well pressed down. Keep the soil moist until the seeds germinate in 10 to 18 days. Thyme plants can survive light drought, but dry conditions produce concentrated oils and a more potent herb.

Add snips of thyme to salty meat, fish and cheese entrees and soups as you prepare them, allowing the herb time to release its flavour into the dish. You can also make thyme vinegar using the same method as chive vinegar above.

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