Common Name: Oregano
Scientific Name: Origanum vulgare
Planting Instructions: Plant in full sun. Oregano doesn't like too much water as the moisture causes root rot. Overwatering, high humidity, too much rain, and poor drainage can lead to root rot and kill your oregano. Oregano can be transplanted after 6-8 weeks, but directly sowing is easier.
Harvesting: Oregano is a fast grower. Even if you don't need it, cut oregano back to 4-6 inches as soon as the flowers emerge, which will ensure healthy, fresh growth all season. Try to harvest on overcast days when the foliage is dry. Oregano can be used fresh or dried. To dry, hang upside down out of direct light.
Seed Saving Level: Advanced. Oregano will cross with other varieties of oregano. If you want to save seeds, only grow one variety per season. Harvest clusters when dry. Spread them on screens to dry further, then thresh or rub to separate the nutlets.
Sources: Power Plants: Simple Home Recipes You Can Grow (2014) by Frankie Flowers and Bryce Wild, Complete Guide to Saving Seeds (2011) by Robert Gough and Cheryl Moore-Gough.
Recipe: Baked Eggplant with Basil and Oregano (Serves 4)
- 2 eggplants
- 4 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 onion, minced
- 13 ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 2 tsp sugar
- 6 fresh basil leaves, roughly torn
- 1 Tbsp minced fresh oregano, or 2 tsp dried oregano
- 5 oz mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
- 3 Tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Salt, freshly ground black pepper
- Small basil leaves, to garnish
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut each eggplant in half lengthwise and scoop out the flesh from each one, leaving at least a 1/2-inch edge of flesh around the edge, to prevent the eggplant from falling apart during cooking. Roughly chop half the scooped-out flesh and discard the other half.
Heat 1 Tbsp of oil in a small saucepan and gently saute the garlic and onion for 3-4 minutes, until onions are soft. Add tomatoes and eggplant flesh and bring to a boil. Stir in the sugar and seasoning and boil hard for about 5 minutes, to reduce the sauce; stir frequently to prevent the sauce burning. Remove from heat and stir in basil and oregano.
Spoon some of the mixture into each eggplant shell; top with slices of mozzarella cheese and sprinkle with Parmesan. Drizzle the remaining oil over. Put on baking sheet and bake for 50-60 minutes, until the cheese has formed a delicious golden crust.
Source: A Pinch of Herbs: Herbs for Health, Beauty and Cooking (1997) by Katy Holder & Gail Duff
Growing your own herbs can be a great way to spice up your cooking. It can be much less expensive than buying herbs and the fresh flavor can't be beat. Here are a few books that may inspire you to get started.