Advice for the Home Gardener from the Help Desk of the
UC Master Gardener Program of Contra Costa County
Gardener's Request: Can I plant mint and thyme together? Thank you for your response.
Help Desk Response: Thank you for contacting the UC Master Gardener Program Help Desk.
Mint and thyme are wonderful herbs to have in the garden; both herbs have a lovely scent and their flowers are attractive to many beneficial insects.
Mint is considered a rather aggressive herb; therefore, it is best to plant mint by itself in a pot, not in the ground. You can try to plant both mint and thyme together in a pot; however, please realize over time the mint will probably take over the thyme. Mint and thyme also have different water requirements, thyme requires less water than mint.
Hope the above addresses your question. You can find further information regarding mint and thyme in the links below. Both links reference Sonoma County but the information should apply to Contra Costa County as well (we assumed you live in Contra Costa County).
Please let us know if you need further assistance with this or other herb gardening.
Help Desk of the UC Master Gardener Program of Contra Costa County (mlk)
Note: Contra Costa's Help Desk is available almost year-round to answer your gardening questions. Except for a few holidays (e.g., last 2 weeks December), we're open every week, Monday through Thursday for walk-ins from 9:00 am to Noon at 2380 Bisso Lane, Concord, CA 94520. We can also be reached via telephone: (925) 608-6683, email: email@example.com, or on the web at http://ccmg.ucanr.edu/Ask_Us/. MGCC Blogs can be found at http://ccmg.ignore.edu/HortCoCo/ You can also subscribe to the Biog.
- Author: MaryJo Smith
It is tempting to pamper our plants through frequent fertilizing and watering to ensure that they grow big and lush. It understandably gives us a lot of pleasure and sense of accomplishment to see our plants thrive and bloom, or produce a bounty of fresh juicy fruit and vegetables. But, with a drought situation, now is not the time to pamper your plants. Now, is the time for tough love. Your plants might not like it much. They might become "petulant" by withholding their lushness, not flowering like before or not producing as much. But, they will survive.
Most of us unknowingly over-irrigate our plants, so its ok to reduce the water you give them. In fact, the amount of water given to plants can often be reduced by 20-40%. Most established landscape trees, shrubs, and groundcovers, regardless of the species planted, perform acceptably well with 20-40% less irrigation than they are typically given.
To reduce irrigation with the least harm to your plants, water infrequently and deeply. Do this by increasing irrigation runtimes and extending the number of days between irrigation events. I know this seems contrary to the idea that you should reduce the irrigation runtime and keep the same frequent irrigation interval, but this will work.
Schedule slightly longer irrigation runtimes so that the entire root zone of plants is rewetted at each irrigation; then gradually increase the interval between irrigation runtimes over a few weeks. This practice will allow you to save water while allowing your plants to adjust to a new watering regiment. After extending the interval between irrigations, the water budgeting or seasonal adjust feature found on many sprinkler controllers can be used to fine tune runtimes and achieve optimum water conservation.
When watering, consider the root systems of your trees, plants, shrubs and lawns:
- Tall fescue lawns normally have roots 6 to 12 inches deep
- Bermudagrass and other warm season grasses are normally at least 12 inches deep
- Trees, shrubs, and groundcovers are normally found within 12 to 24 inches of the soil surface
- Vegetables vary in depth from 6 to 48 inches (a chart that shows the root depths is linked below for you)
Adjust the runtimes in your irrigation controller every month to account for changes in the average weather conditions. This alone can reduce landscape water use by up to 10%.
It is important to gradually reduce the water over a few to several weeks so the plants can adjust to less water.
Try to irrigate during the very early morning hours (between 2:00 am and 6:00 am) because evaporation is lower and usually there is little, or no, wind to disrupt the pattern of sprinklers during these hours if you are watering lawns. In addition, water pressure is a little better for irrigation systems during this time.
To find out how deep the water is going into the soil, take a long screwdriver (or similarly shaped tool or soil probe) and probe the soil in several spots an hour or so after an irrigation. The depth that the screwdriver or tool can be easily pushed into the soil is the depth that the water has penetrated. If deeper wetting is needed to wet plant roots, then additional irrigation cycles are needed. If the soil is wet beyond plant roots, then the runtime should be reduced.
Checking the soil moisture each day during drought - or really hot, dry days - with this technique and watching the plants for signs of wilt or water stress will enable you to see how long it takes for soil to dry to the point where water must be replaced. This is the maximum interval between irrigations for the current season. Ideally, irrigation is applied just prior to the onset of plant stress, so schedule irrigation about one day shorter than the maximum interval.
Note: Established small shrubs or groundcover are those that have been in the ground for a period of one year or more. A tree or larger shrub must be in the ground for at least 3 years to be considered established.
To determine the root depth of your herbs & vegetables, go to: Herbs & Vegetables Root Depth Chart
- Author: Shannon Wolfe
Thanksgiving is tomorrow, so I am sure you have all the ingredients you might need for your upcoming feast. Lots of herbs make their way off the shelf and into this wonderful meal, so I thought this would be a great time to discuss some of the most popular herbs used in the traditional Thanksgiving meal, and give some tips on growing and storing them. If you don't already have any or all of these three herbs in your garden, you might consider planting some once spring rolls around.
Rosemary is always a popular herb - and a popular decorative shrub in our area as it is hearty and drought-tolerant. For Thanksgiving use, you can use a rosemary-salt blend to rub your bird, or finely chop and combine fresh rosemary with butter and rub that on your bird. Whole sprigs can also go straight into the cavity of the bird. Rosemary roasted potatoes are also a delicious side dish.
You might already have rosemary, either creeping or upright, in your landscape. If you don't, and would like to grow some, you should! Rosemary is very easy to care for. It prefers 6-8 hours of sunlight per day and thrives in our warm climate. Rosemary likes dry soil - so be sure not to overwater and let the soil dry out between waterings.
Thyme is a popular herb to combine with poultry, but this lemony herb also goes well in baked goods. You can rub some thyme on your bird, throw some sprigs inside the cavity, or even toss some thyme into your piecrust dough.
Much like rosemary, thyme can make a great decorative accent in your garden. Many gardeners believe that the flavor of thyme improves the more it is neglected - meaning poor soil and little water suit thyme just fine.
Sage complements pork very well. It also adds a savory flavor to browned butter, and who doesn't love sage stuffing?
There are many types of sage, and not all of them are edible. These varieties are all edible: garden, purple, tri-color, golden and common sage. Another giveaway for edible sage is the botanical name "salvia officinalis." Sage prefers full-sun and is drought-tolerant once established. It prefers well drained soil and does not like to have wet roots.
Harvesting and Storage
As far as harvesting goes, you can cut sprigs of rosemary, thyme and sage as needed to use fresh, or you can cut and hang sprigs to dry. Once dry I do recommend removing the needles or leaves from the stem and putting them in a jar or bag of some sort, as no one likes dusty herbs!