Growing Rosemary for Profit

byWikifarmer Editorial Team

Starting a Rosemary farm

Professional Cultivation of Rosemary – Starting a Rosemary Farm

Growing commercially rosemary plants for fresh/dry stems or essential oil has become a new trend in agribusiness during the last two decades. The reason is first that the rosemary essential oil is nowadays used in a variety of industries and there is an increasing demand (that in some cases hardly meets supply). Secondly, the plant is fairly easy to grow and manage, while it rarely suffers from diseases. Once established, healthy and mature plants can produce sustainably good yields for over a decade. However, as it happens in nearly all commercial crops, a certain level of research is required, especially concerning the variety. Our rosemary plants will produce fresh plant material and/or essential oil for the next 10-15 years, so we must be certain that we will choose the right variety for our market. In cases of professional growers that supply pharmaceutical manufacturers or wholesalers, the client often dictates the variety and other specifications.

The rosemary plant is resilient and can grow in almost any well drained soil; however, it can thrive in certain climate and soil requirements.  Although the average rosemary plant can survive without artificial water supply or fertilization in the average soil, growing commercially rosemary involves a series of activities. Planting, Irrigation, Fertilization, Weed Control and Harvesting are very important and affect greatly the final yield. These activities represent the majority of costs. Processing, storing and distillation methods are also extremely important for the final quantity and quality of essential oil.

Time for Thyme

Time for Thyme: how to plant, grow, and use organic thyme

Organic thyme.  Learn how to plant, grow and use thyme.
organic thyme

If I could only grow one perennial herb, it would be thyme.

Thank goodness nature never imposes a rule like that—beacuse I would miss mint, sage, rosemary, anise hyssop—but still, there’s nothing like sitting in a bed of thyme and running my hands through it, swirling the scent into the air and all around my body.  It’s instant calm.

As a student in Wisdom of the Herbs, I remember my teacher Annie sharing an old saying, “who weeds thyme cultivates patience.”  

I think it all comes from the scent.  There’s nothing quite like the smell of thyme on a sunny summer day to infuse into my lungs and remind me to relax.

Even beyond summer, I keep thyme close.  It’s easy to dry: just hang upside-down in bundles, and in a week or two, it’s ready for winter storage.  All through winter and spring, I add thyme to meals and drink it in tea.

If you haven’t yet grown this perennial herb, it’s thyme you do.

(I’m sorry, I just couldn’t help myself!)

Thyme takes it time, so start seeds early in the spring, 6 – 8 weeks before your last frost date.  

Sprinkle seeds in an open flat on the surface of the soil, and cover lightly with vermiculite or soil.  

Once sown, it can take 2 – 4 to emerge from the soil, helping you cultivate patience right away.

Growing organic thyme, a perennial herb, in flats
organic thyme seedlings growing in rows in an open flat

{For more on seeding thyme and other perennial herbs, read 4 Perennial Kitchen Herbs to Start Now}

Up-pot thyme into containers once the plants have at least 4 true leaves.  I typically up-pot them 3-4 plants per container.

After the last frost, you can plant thyme outside, transplanting them 6 – 8” apart in well-drained soil with full sun exposure.  Thyme can grow well in dry soil, though if you live in a very hot climate, it will benefit from partial shade.

How to Use Thyme

Thyme is an aromatic herb that can help with digestion and respiratory issues.  

I love it on roast chicken, paired with olive oil, salt, and pepper.  In a small bowl, add the salt, pepper, thyme, and olive oil together to make a thick paste, then rub on a whole chicken before roasting.  

As a digestive aid, it’s also delicious paired with sage and added to lamb and beef roasts.

Alternatively, sprinkle it in black beans to brighten up rice and beans.

For a simple soothing tea, mix thyme and honey together.  

Add 2-3 sprigs of thyme per 2 cups of water.  Bring to a boil, then turn off the heat, cover and let steep for 10 – 15 minutes.  Add a spoonful of honey to taste.

This is our family’s favorite cold-time tea, made even better by the fact that our 5-year-old son loves it, too.  

Kate Spring: writer and organic farmer at The Good Heart Life

Welcome, love.  I’m Kate: writer and organic farmer at Good Heart Farmstead.  I’m here to help you grow a thriving organic farm and cultivate a flourishing creative practice.  Because creativity is as essential as food.

Do you love thyme, too?  What’s your favorite way to use thyme?  Let me know in the comments below.