Oregano is a beautiful perennial herb with dark green leaves in opposite pairs, and pretty flowers in pink, white or purple in colour. Its flavor is extremely similar to that of Majoran, but slightly stronger and more pungent.
The Oregano herb is thought to have come from Greece. Its title means “Joy of the Mountain” in Greek, and the herb is indeed found growing wild on the mountainside of Greece and the Mediterranean. Legend has it that the Greeks fed cows with Oregano to enhance the flavor of their meat, and Aristotle has recommended the herb as an antidote for poison after he noticed that tortoises would eat the herb after consuming a poisonous snake.
Oregano grows best in hot climate; for the US, it would mean climate zone 5-9. It may be helpful to know that the herb prefers partial shade as its leaves may be scorched by the complete sun. This makes Oregano an ideal choice in shady areas under the large tree, or corners in your garden. If you reside in a place with lower climate , you may still include Oregano on your herb gardening, with additional care: either transplant them to pots and bring indoors before winter, or protect the plants for protection against frost and harsh winds.
The Oregano herb is ready for harvest once it reaches 4-5 inches in height. This plant can normally tolerate aggressive harvesting; in actuality, frequent pruning can promote stronger and healthy growth. As a great practice in herb gardening, you are able to inspect your Oregano for signs of pests during pruning.
Having said this, this herb brings few pests, except possibly spider mites and aphids if the plant has been grown indoors during the winter. If aphids hit, just spray the plant with insecticidal soap.
It’s not difficult to disperse your Oregano and this may be accomplished by seeding, cuttings and root division. For seeds, it’ll be valuable to sow them in containers and cover the seeds with just a light layer of dirt. This may be done in spring or when the temperature is above 45F.
Similar to Mint, Oregano sends out runners when old. Roots grow from these shoots once they touch the dirt… While this implies that the herb is very easy to propagate, there’s a chance of Oregano overrunning your backyard. A solution is to include the herb’s expansion in a pot (either with or without the bottom removed) and put it deep in the soil, or just grow Oregano as a container plant.
While the Oregano herb is chiefly used in perfume making in the industrial world, it’s a significant place in Mediterranean cooking. After all, it’s affectionately called the “pizza” herb!
If you choose to use Oregano as a culinary herb, then I’d recommend Greek Oregano, which has the traditional Oregano flavor. Other varieties include the Mexican Oregano (mostly used as a component for chili powders due to its pungent taste ), and Golden Oregano, a variety with milder taste and chiefly used as decorative herbs.
Lastly, a few hints for your culinary pleasure: toss in the herbs only towards the end of the cooking, as the Oregano leaves tend to turn sour under powerful heat. Also, please be aware that unlike many herbs, dried Oregano tastes more powerful than its fresh form.