Marjoram and oregano

Posted on: 15 May 2019 by 50connect editorial

You don't need extensive knowledge or a garden to grow your own herbs. Here we look at how to grow two herbs synonymous with 1001 Mediterranean recipes; marjoram and oregano.

Oregano in a pot

What's in a name?

Have you ever wondered what the difference is between oregano and marjoram? Why is oregano also known as wild marjoram, and why is pot marjoram sometimes called Turkish oregano?

Origanum is the name of the plant genus, so all marjorams are oreganos, but not all oreganos are marjorams. All are members of the Lamiaceae or mint family, which includes basil, lavender and many other herbs too. To add to the confusion, in some countries the name oregano is used for seasonings that don't come from the same plant family at all.

What these plants have in common is a certain chemical that creates the oregano flavour, carvacrol. This is present in some oregano plants and some plants from other families, while other oregano plants don't contain it and are not even culinary herbs. So it's really the oregano taste, familiar on pizzas and in a multitude of Mediterranean dishes, that marks out the herbs we call oregano or marjoram and use in the kitchen.

How to grow

These Mediterranean herbs like lots of sun, and well-drained, light soil, such as chalky. Don't let them dry out during the first few months, but after that they won't need too much water. You don't really need to feed them as this can impair the flavour.

Remove the flower heads to prevent seeding and bitterness, and you will be able to harvest the leaves from June to November. For a year round supply, grow as a pot plant indoors, or in a protected place in the garden. This herb is good in containers.

Marjoram

Sow seeds outside in April.

Use the leaves fresh.

Pot Marjoram

Sow seeds indoors in March then plant out plants in April.

Oregano

Sow seeds outside in April.

Pick the leaves and dry them, they will keep in an airtight container for several months. Choose a dry day for harvesting and dry them in a warm, dark, dry place.

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