Oregano (Origanum Vulgare)
A must have for the kitchen! This classic flavor is most commonly found in Italian and Greek cooking. Has many therapeutic uses. Great for containers and gardens! Oregano may be grown from seed sown early indoors and transplanted outside after frost, directly sown, or planted as a potted plant.
Sowing Seed Indoors:
- Sow oregano seeds indoors 6-10 weeks before the last frost in spring using a seed starting kit.
- Barely cover seeds in seed-starting formula.
- Keep the soil moist at 70 degrees F
- Seedlings emerge in 10-21 days.
- As soon as seedlings emerge, provide plenty of light on a sunny windowsill or grow seedlings 3-4 inches beneath fluorescent plant lights turned on 16 hours per day, off for 8 hours at night. Raise the lights as the plants grow taller. Incandescent bulbs will not work for this process because they will get too hot. Most plants require a dark period to grow, do not leave lights on for 24 hours.
- Seedlings do not need much fertilizer, feed when they are 3-4 weeks old using a starter solution (half strength of a complete indoor houseplant food) according to manufacturer’s directions.
- If you are growing in small cells, you may need to transplant the seedlings to 3 or 4 inch pots when seedlings have at least 3 pairs of leaves before transplanting to the garden so they have enough room to develop strong roots.
- Before planting in the garden, seedling plants need to be “hardened off”. Accustom young plants to outdoor conditions by moving them to a sheltered place outside for a week. Be sure to protect them from wind and hot sun at first. If frost threatens at night, cover or bring containers indoors, then take them out again in the morning. This hardening off process toughens the plant’s cell structure and reduces transplant shock and scalding.
Sowing Directly in the Garden:
- Direct sow in average soil in full sun after all danger of frost when temperatures remain above 45 degrees F.
- Remove weeds and work organic matter into the top 6-8 inches of soil; then level and smooth.
- Sow seeds evenly and barely cover with fine soil.
- Firm the soil lightly and keep evenly moist.
- Seedlings will emerge in 10-21 days.
- Thin to 12 inches apart when seedlings have three sets of leaves.
Planting in the Garden:
- Select a location (out of the way or in a container due to rapid spread) in full sun or part shade with good rich, evenly moist soil.
- Prepare the bed by turning the soil under to a depth of 8 inches. Level with a rake to remove clumps of grass and stones.
- Dig a hole for each plant large enough to amply accommodate the root ball.
- Carefully remove the plant from its pot and gently loosen the root ball with your hands to encourage good root development.
- Set the plants 12 inches apart.
- Place the top of the root ball even with the level of the surrounding soil. Fill with soil to the top of the root ball. Press soil down firmly with your hand.
- Use the plant tag as a location marker.
- Thoroughly water and apply a light mulch layer on top of the soil (1-2 inches) to conserve water and reduce weeds.
- Harvest as needed and to keep plants most productive and bushy.
- Harvest in the morning when plants are dry. Harvest before flower buds form.
- Cut leaves on a sunny morning. Tie stems together and hang in a dry place away from the sun. OR spread on a cheesecloth or a window screen in a dry, shady location. Or dry herbs in the oven for 2-3 hours on a cookie sheet at the lowest heat, leaving the oven door open. OR use a dehydrator following the manufacturer’s instructions.
- When thoroughly dry, pulverize and store in a tightly sealed glass jar in a dry, dark location, such as a cupboard.
- Oregano may also be frozen either in zip lock bags or finely chopped in water or olive oil in ice cube trays.