Oregano is one of the easiest herbs to learn how to grow and harvest. This herb is very distinct and used in many southern dishes; and by southern, I mean near the equator. Mexican food, Italian food, greek food and many others, all use oregano in many of their recipes. As such, these plants enjoy warm locations with well-drained and dry soil.
I personally love oregano. However, I also really love all of the above mentioned foods. Oregano is pretty easy to grow which makes it a staple in my garden. If you’re a beginner gardener and love oregano, you’re in luck! This plant is sure to be a fun herb to grow.
Beginner Gardening Tips for Growing and Harvesting Oregano
Oregano grows well outdoors, in warm climates. It needs well-drained soil and actually prefers slight drought conditions. Water oregano once the soil has completely dried out. Overwatering can hurt this herb.
When and How to Plant Oregano
To plant seedlings outdoors, be sure they are planted 1/2 inch deep and about a 12 inches a part from one another as they can grow up to two feet tall. Oregano adapts to most conditions but prefers drier soil. Only water oregano when the soil is completely dry.
Seeds and seedlings need an average soil temperature of 70-75 degrees Fahrenheit in order to germinate and thrive outdoors. Oregano needs a bit of light in order to germinate, so make sure not to plant them too deep in the ground. This herb also enjoys being planted near cucumbers, squash, pumpkins and melon.
Oregano is extremely low maintenance, many times it doesn’t need much to grow well. Landscapers use this herb in many xeroscaped yards because it thrives with little water and looks pretty too.
Starting Seeds Indoors
If you live in a cold climate (like I do), you’ll need to start your seeds indoors. Oregano seeds need to be started 4 weeks before the last frost.
Planting and Germination
Plant Oregano seeds in an organic seed starting medium, in a seed tray. It’s important to plant multiple seedlings per cell to ensure that one seedling will survive. Do not plant them too deep, oregano seeds need light to germinate.
Make sure to water from the bottom of the tray. This will prevent the seeds from being displaced. It takes about 8-14 days for Oregano seeds to sprout. Oregano seeds need to be very warm in order to germinate (about 70 degrees Fahrenheit). To be sure that it’s warm enough, use a seedling heat mat underneath your seeds.
Once the seeds have germinated, be sure to add a grow light a few inches above your seedlings. This will prevent them from becoming leggy and help them grow faster. Oregano loves full light, so make sure the light is on them for most of the day.
It’s ok to allow seedlings to dry out a little between watering, in fact, oregano enjoys being a little on the dry side. Seedlings need to be transplanted into larger pots to get big enough for outdoor transplanting.
At this step you can transplant into a larger pot and keep indoors always, or you can plant in a seedling pot and prepare them for transplanting outdoors once the weather allows.
Seedlings can be planted outdoors once the temperature of the soil consistently reaches 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Oregano should be at least 6 inches high before being transplanted outdoors.
Seedlings must be hardened off before transplanting. If your seedlings are not hardened, many will likely die from transplant shock.
As stated above be sure to plant them 12 inches (one foot) apart from one another. This will allow enough room for air circulation and growth.
Basic Maintenance of Oregano
Oregano plants, will give you plenty of oregano year after year. To maintain your plants during the season, be sure to allow enough room for their growth and don’t overwater. Oregano is pretty self-sufficient and prefers soil to be completely dry before watering.
If you live in a cold climate, it’s important to prune the bush back during the fall and cover the plant in mulch before the cold hits. Otherwise, your oregano may not make it to the following spring.
In order to get the best flavor from your oregano, pinch off flowers before they bloom. This also encourages the herb to grow bushy instead of just growing tall. Fertilizer will also take away from the taste of this herb. Don’t add fertilizer to the soil.
When To Harvest Oregano
Oregano can be used both fresh and dried (as well as frozen). This herb is used in many different cuisines. One of my personal favorites is Greek salad with Oregano Dressing.
Remove leaves from the top of the plant throughout the season. Fresh oregano can be used in many Mediterranean dishes. Pruning will also help the plant grow larger and fuller.
Rinse your oregano leaves will cool water and use as you wish. Store fresh oregano in the refrigerator. I usually wrap them in a paper towel or tea towel and place them in a closed jar in the fridge. This will help them stay fresher for longer. Although you’ll need to use them within a week.
Drying oregano is a great option for preserving them. Simply lay the leaves out in a dark, dry area and leave them be for a couple weeks. Once dried, crush the leaves and place them in a jar. Use as you would store-bought oregano.
Adding oregano to your garden will not be a regret. Learning how to grow and harvest oregano will be a skill you use for years to come.
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