29 Mar2006

Fresh Thyme

by Marketman


I am a huge fan of fresh herbs and I always envy those photographs of kitchen gardens that are just bursting with various herbs at the ready for the cook’s scissors. I also have a kitchen garden which has some hardy herbs like tanglad (lemongrass), pandan (screwpine leaves), oregano (nothing can kill this), basil, makrut (kaffir lime), laurel (bay leaves), mint, galangal (yellowish ginger) but I seem to have a black thumb so many of the herbs I buy don’t last too long. Seems my problem is the soil and drainage and many of the herbs I like require better drained and different nutrient rich potting mixtures. Oh well… Despite this “herbs springs eternal” attitude, I keep trying… and two months ago I bought a healthy little thyme plant for a whopping sum of PHP250 and have taken great care not to overwater it, give it too much sun or trim too many leaves. It is still alive and I am thrilled! Here you see it in a white and gold cachepot. I love fresh thyme particularly in my lemon and thyme chicken and surprisingly, as a touch of the unusual in my paksiw na lechon recipe.

Emboldened by my success with the little thyme, I passed by the Toscana farm stand last weekend and bought a really healthy BUSH of thyme for just PHP180, a aathyme2relative bargain! It has now been transplanted to a large terra cotta pot and is just feet away from my computer, out on the terrace. I am hoping this bush will be comfortable in its new home and will yield enough thyme for the year ahead… I also find I have trouble keeping rosemary alive. What should be an incredibly hardy plant often last just a few months with me before it keels over. My beloved rosemary bush out in Batangas that lasted over a year and was quite large died last month of unknown causes and it was too expensive to do an autopsy…boohoo. Anyone who cooks with herbs regularly will understand the desire to have them fresh and aplenty…there is no substitute for good fresh herbs to help enhance whatever dish you are cooking!



  1. Rampau says:

    Wow, first comment! I love fresh herbs but like you I kill everything. Or if I have fresh herbs, there’s never an occasion to use them. So it’s such a waste. Those are nice looking plants you got there though. I only have fresh basil most of the time since I cook with those a lot.

    Mar 29, 2006 | 6:06 am


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  3. linda says:

    If I had to choose my most favourite herb I would choose “thyme”. It’s extremely versatile,flexible and forgiving in the amounts used. It is a hardy plant,drought resistant and immune to the attention of our beloved cat. Love this herb with mushrooms sauteed in lots of garlic and a bit of fresh chilli.I love also marinating chicken with lots of garlic,lemon juice,sprigs of fresh thyme,S&P then bbqd. and served with salad,etc.

    Good day to you,MM!

    Mar 29, 2006 | 8:33 am

  4. Zita says:

    I too seem to have problems in keeping fresh herbs in pots alive. Maybe when we move to a bigger place, I can start buying and planting. Hopefuly with more success. Fingers crossed. I have a lemongrass marinade recipe on my website if your interested to have a look. Easy to make. Cheers!

    Mar 29, 2006 | 10:00 am

  5. Em says:

    I agree, Rockwell Rustan’s carries a good batch of fresh herbs, I wish they’d carry coriander leaves though. I rarely see them.

    Mar 29, 2006 | 10:34 am

  6. Baki says:

    MM, good luck with the thyme! Some of these normally very durable herbs need dry heat, like rosemary, thyme and especially sage…they are coming from the mediterraenean. But I wonder, why even wansoy is not doing good in my garden. I put compost, I water, I talk- but still very disappointing!! BTW where did you get the kaffir lime, I am looking for it since ages.

    Mar 29, 2006 | 11:24 am

  7. Anne says:

    MM, I have the same problem with herbs. I use to have tarragon, basil, oregano, thyme, coriander, and mint but sadly most of them died by my hands (except for the mint, those passed away because my dogs kept chewing on them). Now, I only have basil (that I took from an empty lot near my place-it was growing wild over there) and oregano that are really thriving in my garden. And the only reason they’re thriving is because I’ve stayed away from them.

    Mar 29, 2006 | 11:34 am

  8. fried-neurons says:

    Hahaha, Marketman. How exactly do you kill rosemary? I have one that I neglect on purpose because it grows too quickly, yet it refuses to die. Have never tried growing thyme, though. At one point I had rosemary, oregano, basil, and Italian parsley growing out on my deck. Ngayon rosemary nalang ang natitira.

    Mar 29, 2006 | 11:36 am

  9. Mila says:

    I’m a fellow herb-killer. I’ve tried to grow basil so many times to no avail. I always thought rosemary was easy to grow too, but I guess from your post, I shouldn’t even try. I wonder if it’s because we buy the herbs already grown, and not by seed?

    Mar 29, 2006 | 12:05 pm

  10. mojitodrinker says:

    hi MM, i too am a rosemary-killer. the one i have now survived for a year but it is inexplicably dying as we speak. the first one i bought lasted less than a month so i thought i was doing well. darn.

    Mar 29, 2006 | 1:07 pm

  11. marga says:

    HI MM! I too belong to the many who have confessed to be a rosemary killer. Everytime I see fresh Herbs I have this dream seeing my garden a bloom with them and there I am cutting them whenever I needed them or better still hoping to “smell” a whiff of these different Herbs. But sad to say it has never come about and my dreams are getting blurred. I think the Tagaytay weather helps although Fried neurons emaila says his/hers?? is growing healthily. How I really envy those who are able to grow them. Maybe I should not give up and try again. The only plants I have are pandan, tanglad and oregano. My basil has become woodsy. They’re too old perhaps and I confess I did not care too much.

    Mar 29, 2006 | 3:54 pm

  12. mae says:

    Thyme and Lemon Thyme are a favourite of mine. They’re great on roast pork. I have one growing in a pot in the garden. Your thyme looks healthy and bushy. You’re right, nothing beats fresh herbs. When i started using them, i never looked back. I bought two boxes of grow your own herbs and salad recently. The salad being pak choi and mizuna. The herbs are coriander, chives and basil. I’m not much of a gardener but this diy kit got me planting. Lets hope they grow…

    Mar 29, 2006 | 4:26 pm

  13. edee says:

    fresh herbs…..it’s spring now so time to buy those potted herbs again and try my luck to have them till next spring, usually they “die” on me in winter……MM,don’t overwater your herbs, water them when the soil is really dry and they feel light when you pick the pot….and when you do water them, water them thoroughly until the water drips out of the drainage hole…….it works for me, just have to find a way to keep them thru winter :)

    Mar 29, 2006 | 5:53 pm

  14. patanj says:

    I’ve had my pot of rosemary for 3-4 years now and from this single pot I have managed to grow several plants from cuttings. The secret? None really, except that it does hate the rain so I just diligently bring it inside at the first sign of a downpour. A bit of hardwork esp in a rainy country like ours but its worth it. For hard to remove fish odor on your hands, just tenderly rub your rosemary plant and the odor disappears “like magic”.

    Mar 29, 2006 | 6:45 pm

  15. Bay_leaf says:

    are you going to scarborough fair
    parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme…

    ahh, the smell of fresh herbs — absolutely divine and soothing.

    MM, try to mix your soil with sand for your thyme. and keep it in a dry, warm place. long may your thymian live…

    Mar 29, 2006 | 9:32 pm

  16. Chris says:

    Marketman, that thyme looks very healthy. I once bought one in quezon city. All I could get was a sorry looking plant with about 6 delicate branches. I cut 3 to use with my roast chicken and sadly, it couldn’t handle the mutilation and died! Plus I found out, it can’t handle too much moisture specially in the afternoons. You have to give its leaves time to dry before sunset, otherwise it grows moldy and dies. ’twas too late when I learned that. Oh well, maybe next thyme. heheh

    Mar 29, 2006 | 9:40 pm

  17. dodi says:

    Since we are going into that very hot, dry season now, you better watch your herbs carefully!! They’re quiet sensitive to sudden changes in the weather. Don’t be surprised if any of the spectacular plants or herbs you bought in Tagaytay or Baguio suddenly die. For herbs, I know we like some fresh but when they do keel over and die, don’t just throw anything away; gather the leaves and air dry them, in fact, dried herbs are more concentrated than fresh ones!

    Mar 30, 2006 | 11:51 am

  18. wabbitga says:

    MM, ever since I started my food service biz, I began to grow fresh herbs in the back garden. I have oregano, thyme, sage (no kidding), rosemary, rau ram, basil, tarragon, lemon grass, curry leaves, pandan, and a mint thing. One of my young kaffir limes is throwing a tantrum so I’m ignoring it until it decides to be a happy plant again.

    Now growing mustasa, Tagalog pechay for the kitchen. And attempting choi sum…

    Email me if you want some. Or tell the Missus. :)


    Mar 31, 2006 | 10:25 am

  19. philip says:

    Hi Marketman

    Most herbs require very well drained soil, many of them rot when you over water them, particularly Basil and Rosemary. They like a bit of sad in the soil. If you can find it, there is a particular potting mix for these kind of herbs, something like a desert mix. You can buy this sa quezon city called Green Hearts. If not, just mix some sand or perlite into the potting mix, basta very well drained. In case of heavy downpour, bring it indoors or under a roof. Herbs require full sunshine or they rot as well. I hope this helps


    Mar 31, 2006 | 4:31 pm

  20. Candice says:

    hey, i’ve been looking for kaffir lime. where did you buy it? i’ve given up on rosemarie, i already killed 5 rosemarie plants so i plan to try my luck with kaffir.


    May 5, 2006 | 9:36 am

  21. ric valdez says:

    You have been talking and talking about parsely, sage rosemary,and thyme. What do yuo call these spices in filipino?

    Jun 13, 2006 | 10:42 am

  22. Marketman says:

    Actually, I don’t think there are Filipino translations for many of these herbs that don’t typically grow here nor are often found in Filipino cooking… kind of like, spaghetti not having a filipino translation either…

    Jun 13, 2006 | 11:45 am

  23. jeng says:

    Hi! I’m a newbie about herb planting. I actually haven’t started that’s why I’m researching about it first. Any tips or advise on how to start planting herbs? Is it better to get a grown plant herb rather than start with a seed?

    Apr 29, 2007 | 3:28 pm

  24. Marketman says:

    jeng, it depends which herbs, potted herbs such as basil, tarragon, mint, etc. are alredy a few inches tall at the markets for say 3 pots for a PHP100 only. If you want to go cheaper, or have a green thumb, start from seeds which will take a little longer. Not all herbs thrive in Philippine weather so a little experimentation will be useful on your part…

    Apr 29, 2007 | 3:38 pm

  25. Joanne Basa says:

    i was desperately searching the web for a place here in metro manila where i can buy sphagnum peat moss for my carnivorous plants when i came across your forum. can someone please tell me where i can purchase pure sphagnum peat moss?? please??? thanks! :)

    May 11, 2007 | 11:21 pm

  26. Marketman says:

    Joanne, sorry, I am not even sure what sphagnum peat moss is… the do have a natural moss that is dried and used to keep potted plants moist or to cover the oasis floral foam on floral arrangements. This dried moss is available at garden shops and some florists…

    May 13, 2007 | 5:48 am

  27. jas says:

    guys, do you know what is the tagalog term for curry leaves and sage leaves? Do we have this in the Philippines?

    Jul 21, 2007 | 7:41 pm

  28. Marketman says:

    jas, I am not aware of any Filipino terms for curry leaves or sage leaves.

    Jul 22, 2007 | 6:16 am

  29. yan says:

    ey fried-neurons how do u keep your rosemary healthy?

    Oct 4, 2007 | 6:12 pm

  30. Don says:

    Ma’am, where can I buy seeds of these herbs? I also plan to grow them in our kitchen. If you could tell me where to buy them fresh (basil, rosemary, thyme, etc.) It will be highly appreciated. While on the subject, could you tell me where I can also buy other ingredients especially those for French, Italian, and Japanese recipes. Is there a specialty store that sells these items?

    Thanks in advance,


    Jan 12, 2008 | 1:50 pm

  31. Gene says:

    Where can i buy herb seeds in Dasma ?

    Jan 13, 2008 | 10:41 am

  32. arvin says:

    Sorry, out of topic, but anyone who knows Joanne Basa’s email, please inform her that she should visit http://pitcherplants.proboards34.com/index.cgi?board=phil this is a forum for Carnivorous plant enthusiasts in the Philippines. We might be able to help her.

    On topic, but might be inappropriate… herb seeds are available in Ace hardware. Manila seedling has a lot of herb seeds and seedlings as well, I just visited and they have a sale!


    Jan 17, 2008 | 12:38 am

  33. monica says:

    ei. can you please tell me where can i by a rosemary plant? i really really need it. thank you.

    May 16, 2008 | 7:24 pm

  34. iansky says:

    u can buy one at manila seedling bank in qc or in qc circle they have plenty of rosemary there.

    May 30, 2008 | 3:29 pm

  35. faith says:

    In my experience, basil is one of the easiest herb to grow. My only problem is, I really don’t know how to cook :(

    I’ve read somewhere that herb plants are also available in farmers market.

    Jul 16, 2008 | 6:06 pm

  36. Analyn Kue says:

    Hi! Where can I buy kaffir lime seedlings, galanggal plants in the Philippines? Can these herbs grow in the backyard? If so, how do I plant it? How do I maintain?

    Sep 29, 2008 | 8:08 pm

  37. Bal Esguerra says:

    Dear Sir/Mam,

    Where can i wanton seed her in the Philippines.
    Kindly give the complete address and telephome number of the store. Please email it to me at Bal_esguerra@yahoo.com

    More thank and God bless us.

    Mr. Bal

    Oct 16, 2008 | 3:04 am

  38. Marketman says:

    Bal, sorry, I have never heard of a wanton plant… perhaps it has a different name?

    Oct 16, 2008 | 6:13 am

  39. DBRoxas says:

    Please help us find a store where we can buy dried thyme for our feeding experiment. We are from UP los Banos, College, Laguna. Kindly include the cost per kilo. Thanks a lot for your help.

    D.B. Roxas

    Dec 5, 2008 | 4:10 pm

  40. Marketman says:

    DB Roxas, they have dried thyme at S&R stores in bulk (say 250 gram bottles. Also at Favors n Spices in Market!Market! I don’t know the per kilo price. It isn’t cheap.

    Dec 5, 2008 | 7:43 pm

  41. IC says:

    The Manila Seedling Bank sells plenty of herbs, especially the Green 2000 store. The herbs are already a few inches tall, and they sell it for P100 for 3 pots. They will even give you tips on how to take care of the herbs. They also sell seeds if you prefer to grow them yourselves. There is this one other stall that sells herbs, which are more mature, but for a higher price. But you can always haggle, especially if you buy more than one. I bought rosemary, thyme, marjoram, peppermint, basil, and tarragon all for P200. I also saw kaffir lime, aloe vera, many varieties of basil (sweet, italian, thai, etc), coriander, and lots lots more.

    Hope this helps! :)

    btw, i agree. Nothing beats fresh herbs. They’re much more fragrant and gives better flavor. :)

    Feb 11, 2009 | 9:57 am

  42. mike says:

    hi everyone! i also really really like herbs specially mints! I have here peppermint in which i planted from seed.. i tooks blood and sweat for me to grow this from seed, but i think, ive grown a fake peppermint that lacks flavour and aroma.. can i ask if the one that are being sell in manila seedling bank are true peppermint? i also saw true peppermint at camp john hay, baguio. it was planted outside the commercial center.. i really really want to pick a stem for planting, but i just did not do it for good sake. also, have you guys ever heard of spearmint and applemint here in philippines.. pls email me if you know one… thanks..
    best regards.. MJ

    Mar 7, 2009 | 10:59 pm

  43. Sheryl says:

    can someone tell me where to buy curry leaves in pasig or mandaluyong city?
    thanks a lot!

    Apr 3, 2009 | 8:46 pm

  44. Elaine - The Gourmet Girl says:

    I am trying to find a local source to purchase pandan, either in plant form or dried herb.
    Any suggestions?

    Jul 27, 2009 | 6:02 am


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