I think the Greeks got it right when they described oregano as “joy of the mountain.” This aromatic, ancient culinary herb, also referred to as “wild marjoram,” originates from the hilly, Greek countryside, and is now grown all over the world.
Oregano is a must-have in a culinary garden. Its pungent, spicy, slightly bitter flavor pairs well with almost any vegetable preparation. And just as easy to grow as chives, oregano is another go-to for the first-time gardener
Perennial or annual? Although oregano thrives in a warm climate, it is a hardy perennial that returns year after year, without much work. A couple of my oregano plants are almost 10 years old, and they have withstood many a snowstorm and still continue to produce healthy, vibrantly colored leaves. Older plants still yield delicious leaves, but their potency decreases once they reach three or four years in age
How to Plant Oregano
- Where: Oregano is one of those plants that looks beautiful planted within the landscaping or along a path. It is a “garden anchor” that comes back every spring, providing height and dimension within the garden. Oregano also grows well in containers, so if you live in a high-rise apartment or have a limited growing space, it is a great option. Oregano also performs well indoors, when given enough light and warmth.
How to Cultivate Oregano
- Soil:Plant oregano in light, well-drained soil. Oregano actually grows better in moderately fertile soil, so no fertilization or addition of compost is necessary. I let my oregano do what it does on its own. My only complaint might be that I can’t keep up with the harvest!
- Sun: Oregano performs well in part to full sun, but the flavors intensify when it receives a full day of sunshine. Oregano will grow well indoors, but it is important that the plant receives adequate heat and sunshine in order to grow.
- Water: Don’t overwater oregano. Water thoroughly, only when the soil is dry to the touch.
- Spacing: Plant oregano eight to 10 inches apart in your garden. Oregano grows up to two feet tall and spans about 18 inches across. If you are planting oregano in a container, be sure the pot is about 12 inches in diameter; oregano is a prolific grower.
- Companion planting: Oregano is a great companion plant to almost anything, so don’t worry about planting it next to something it won’t get along with. I plant oregano alongside my tomatoes and peppers. Oregano keeps away a tomato’s archenemy, aphids, by means of predation. Aphids actually love oregano, but oregano also attracts syrphidae(flower flies), which then dine upon the small bugs. Oregano’s thick foliage also provides humidity, which supports peppers’ growth.
How to Harvest Oregano
Harvesting oregano couldn’t be simpler. You may harvest oregano once the stems are at least four inches tall. I tend to let mine grow to about eight inches tall, and then I cut back up to 2/3 of the plant. And don’t worry if you think you’ve cut back your oregano too much — regular trimming encourages new growth and prevents “legginess.”
Mmmm … the herbs give these popovers wonderful flavor! Serve warm with whipped butter.
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
3 large eggs
2 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano or 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
Position a rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Grease 12 popover or custard cups. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour and salt. Stir with a whisk or fork to blend thoroughly. Whisk the milk, eggs, and butter in a small bowl. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Slowly pour the milk mixture into the well while beating the batter. Continue beating for 2-½ to 3 minutes, or until the mixture is smooth and free of lumps. Fold in the herbs. Pour into the prepared cups, filling only halfway. Place the cups in the oven on the center rack and immediately lower the heat to 375ºF. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until puffed and browned.