July 18, 2010 § 2 Comments
Origanum vulgare is a perennial herb and a native of the Mediterranean region. Nowadays, oregano grows throughout most of Europe, South America and North America. Possessing medicinal properties dating back centuries, modern herbalists promote its potential health benefits and home-grown remedies.
Plants are easily started from seed, stem cuttings, or mature root division.
Different varieties of oregano will cross pollinate, meaning there’s a whole experimental field out there.
Oregano seeds require a bit of light to germinate, so cover only slightly with soil. Start seeds indoors and transplant. Does good in a slightly alkaline pH (between 6 and 8), and well-drained, dry, yet nutrient-rich soil.
Divide plants when the centers begin to die out or the stems become too woody. Or divide to make more plants.
Requires little maintenance. The flowers should be pinched to keep the plants bushy and prevent them from bolting. When behind a window, keep out of full sun because leaves can scorch. Outdoors it likes full sun. Keep weeds under control.
Few pests bother oregano. But keep an eye out for spider mites and aphids. Mulching with hay helps keep plants clean outdoors.
Oregano leaves taste best before flowering. Begin harvesting when plants have reached 8-10 cm. Cutting stems all the way back to the ground encourages more stems and a fuller plant.
Oregano contains volatile oils that make it an emmenagogue, anti-oxidant, anti-viral, anti-fungal, anti-parasitic, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, digestive and anti-allergenic. Its powerful antioxidant capacities aid in the general neutralization of disease-causing free radicals in the body.
Can be used in pizza, spaghetti and marinara sauces, and many other Italian dishes. Complements beef and lamb stews. Can be added to gravies, salads, soups, and vegetable juices.