Oregano

t-bird(Chicago 5/6)May 2, 2010

Hi all,

Some questions about oregano.

planted a greek oregano last year. It didn't grow too well after the toms and cukes started shading it out and eventual crowding it.

After they were done, it was alone in a nice spot and grew a bit. This year - it really took off as I didn't plant anything too nearby.

Harvested some yesterday - but it didn't seem to be too "oregany". We are wanting it for Italian type cuisine, and I thought the greek was the best oregano - am I wrong?

Is there an optimal time to harvest? I'm thinking it isn't like basil where you just take the leaves any old time.

Also - when is the best time to transplant and/or divide?

Thanks for info. Any miscellaneous oregano comments or discussion welcome!

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nygardener(z6 New York)

Best time to transplant most things is when they're dormant, in early spring or late fall. But oregano is a tough little plant and can probably take being moved now, if you bring a good-sized ball of root and soil with it.

Go to a garden center and try gently rubbing the leaves of Greek and Italian oregano (with different fingers, as the garden center lady advised me the other day). If Greek smells like yours and Italian smells like what you want, buy some Italian. If yours is leggy and doesn't smell as pungent as the store's, chances are it has too much nitrogen-based fertilizer. I also find that most edibles taste better with the addition of some phosphorus, like bone meal, and a litle greensand to the soil.

I haven't found there's an optimal time, though many people like to harvest herbs in the morning, after the dew has dried but before the day warms up.

Also try sweet marjoram. It's not hardy, but it has an oregano-like taste that is milder and somewhat sweeter.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2010 at 9:56AM
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t-bird(Chicago 5/6)

Thanks ny!

Not leggy at, very full and bushy, maybe 6-7 inches at the tallest.

Will investigate other varieties. And harvest some in the morning....

Any idea if oregano is best dried first? does it matter if it is before/during/after flowering?

    Bookmark   May 2, 2010 at 11:58AM
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Daisyduckworth(Aust)

You're just emerging from winter, right? Well, the sun isn't as strong in winter as it is in summer, and it's the sun which encourages the plant to produce the essential oils which give it its flavour and aroma. Remember, oregano is one of the so-called Mediterranean plants, and in its natural habitat is exposed to long hours of HOT sun. In a cooler climate, and in a cool/cold season, your plant won't get that.

As already mentioned, too much fertiliser (as in a vege patch) will also affect the flavour. Oregano likes to work hard for its living.

For harvesting: Pick leaves whenever available to use fresh. Begin harvesting when plants are about 10-12cm high. They can be dried or frozen, or put in oil or vinegar. Flavour is best just after the flower buds form, usually mid-summer.

IMO, oregano is always best used fresh.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2010 at 7:30PM
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eibren(z6PA)

I checked out oregano at a local greenhouse today, and the only oregano that seemed to have any fragrance yet was the Greek variety, so I bought that one. Most of the thymes didn't have much fragrance, either.

Even later in the season, when you purchase your plants, check out the scent first. I always make certain to choose a plant or lot in which there is one. It might just be growing conditions, but I suspect some growers may let their stock become watered down by cross pollination.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2010 at 12:17AM
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cyrus_gardner(8)

I have couple of 1year old Greek oregano. I harvested some few days ago.
It has good aroma, but its strength cannot come close to my German thyme.
Sweet marjoram is a version of oregano but it has even much less aroma.
As Daisy mentioned, more sun can give oregano more aroma.
I also think that
a littlt more mature leave will have more flavor as opposed to very young and tender ones.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2010 at 4:24AM
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t-bird(Chicago 5/6)

Thanks Daisy Duck!

sounds like that is the info I need - wait for more sun and flowers!

    Bookmark   May 3, 2010 at 11:42AM
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ppod(6 SE NY)

My original Oregano (Greek?) plant is much more flavorful than the self-seeded ones that have sprung up here and there, supposedly from seed from the original plant. Mine do not have full-day sun, but some direct sun, plus dappled sun/shade.

Sometimes soil fertility makes a huge difference in taste and looks.

I made meat (beef) sauce the other day and added a pinch of cinnamon (early in the cooking) plus fresh thyme, oregano, and mint leaves (toward the finish). The mint and cin. produced a very interesting extra something, without either of the two being written all over the finished sauce.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2010 at 12:05PM
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maifleur01

I allow mine to flower then either use the flower heads in salad or dry for arrangements. Although allowing to flower supposedly reduces the flavor I find that various bees love the flowers so after the flowers are gone they cruse the other plants pollenating as they go for better crops of all kinds.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2010 at 12:45AM
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MGPinSavannah

I've got an oregano bed (Greek oregano) that's almost out of control. It's in FULL sun down here in Savannah, so maybe your plants aren't getting enough sun. My bed is about 3 feet by 1ý feet, and I'm trying to control it a raised bed but it keeps poking through the landscape timbers. I've discovered that most of the herbs I grow thrive in lots of sun -- rosemary, basil, thyme, and sage all love it, the dill can stand full sun if watered daily, but the parsley seems to want more shade. Make sure you're giving your oregano lots of sun (and heat, to judge by how mine grows), and you should get flavorful leaves.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2010 at 10:58PM
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cyrus_gardner(8)

Sure,mgpaquin,
As DaisyD, pointed out most of those herbs are of Mediterania and
Middle Eastern origin and love sun. But Parsley and dills are sort of cool crops,
especially parsley. No wonder parsley can overwinter here with green tops on, where winter
lows go down to mid teens F.

Back to oregano: I have limited space so I cannot let mine to have big tops. So I harvest them often.
Obviously, tender sprigs have more water and less flavor but still with plenty of flavor to me.
And that is why new shoots coming up does not have as much flavor as old ones.
The same is true about Sweet Marjoram.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2010 at 11:29PM
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farmingvillefarmer(East Coast zone 7)

Will Oregano survive a NY winter planted outdoors? Or do I need to keep it in a pot and bring it inside when the cold weather comes?

    Bookmark   May 9, 2010 at 10:12AM
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fatamorgana2121(Zone 5/6)

It survives quite nicely in the snowy cold of Western NY State where I live so I'm sure it will survive for you in a coastal NY location.

FataMorgana

    Bookmark   May 9, 2010 at 1:30PM
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bookworm21

Oregano loves hot or sunny places, however it is also known to be a survivor in somewhat cool places as well.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2010 at 6:43PM
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links272(7A)

I live on Long Island and we had a real tough winter last year here. However the oregano came back just as strong as ever. In fact it even seems to have gotten bigger if that is possible. Good luck.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2010 at 6:36AM
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wally_1936(8b)

I live South West of Houston and I planted my Greek Oregano, Rosemary and garlic-onion chives in the back under a tree area. It only gets afternoon sun mostly shade but is doing fine. I found when cooking or baking I just cut what I want and just add the whole shoot and remove after cooking-baking. If you use a lot you can tie them together with a piece of string and throw it away after cooking-baking.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2010 at 8:53AM
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scurbanfarmer(7b-8a)

I grew my own Italian oregano from seed this spring.
I planted it out in my raised bed about a month ago. It gets full, hot sun from noon til 8 right now...that will extend a little as the summer goes on.
If you rub mine...it smells like pizza. lol

I have noticed that some of the leaves on my plant are starting to get really big for the normal size oregano leaves that is...

    Bookmark   May 14, 2010 at 7:39PM
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