Growing and Harvesting Oregano. It’s late summer towards the end of August and you’re in southern Italy on holiday in a what they call an Agriturisimo. An old Italian Farm house, usually with land attached. They have done the place up so that it has all the modern nicesties and the city dweller is accustomerd to with the vintage charm of an old stone farm house in the middle of the Italian countryside. It’s complete with an expansive olive grove and around the house the walkways are taken over with colours scents and sounds of nature. This is the perfect setting for oregano to thrive naturally under the hot Italian summer sun.
This is one of many things which made me fall in love with Italy. In order to keep my love alive I tried growing and harvesting oregano back in Germany in my city apartment. Obviously as Germany is not as sunny and warm as southern Italy it was a challenge. However I put together a few tips below which I found to work rather well.
To start off you will need a large pot with a drainage hole, some potting soil, sand or perlite, garden lime and pebbles or marbles. The reason for this mix is that Oregano does best in sandy soil. You might even find it near the beach. However pure sand is not enough to sustain the plant. That is why it’s important to mix the soil for optimum results.Most of us tend to use dried oregano leaves in cooking, but nothing compares to the taste of fresh oregano leaves. It is quite easy to grow oregano indoors, provided you know what you have to do. There are a couple of simple steps that you need to follow to grow and harvesting oregano indoors and they are as follows.
You need to pick a bright and healthy oregano plant from the plant nursery. The best way to grow oregano is from a preexisting plant and no other method works. Don’t try collecting leaves twigs and seeds from plants when your on holiday (*hint* I actually did this). Some herbs you can grow perfectly well from seed however oregano is not one of them.
The oregano plant will need about 6 hours of good sunlight, but it must not be direct sunlight. Direct sunlight harms the plant and will burn the leaves. The ideal spot to place an oregano plant is near a window towards the south or west. If you notice that the plant is leaning towards the source of light, then move the plant to a brighter spot. If the leaves start to brown up around the edges, then move it to a shadier place.
You might be thinking that I just raved about the hot summer sun in Italy. Well…you would be right I did. What I meant to say is that wild oregano which grows there like a weed is not the same plant as what we get in the supermarket or grocery store. We want the cultivated type as the leaves are larger and the plant itself is not so woody and hard.
You will need a planting pot that is bigger than the one in which the oregano plant was present when you purchased it. There needs to be a drainage hole at the bottom of the pot & if there isn’t one, then drill a hole into it. The pot or container that you select to grow oregano in should be 6 inches in diameter.
You will need good quality soil if you want a healthy oregano plant. Add a little sand or perlite along with a pinch of garden lime to prepare the soil for the plant. Before you decide to place the soil in the pot, add a layer of pebbles or marbles at the bottom to improve the drainage. When you re-pot the plant, you need to firm the plant by firmly pressing it down into the soil. It is essential to do this to prevent any air bubbles in the soil. Air bubbles in the soil can cause damage to the roots of the plant.
Once you plant or replant the oregano, you need to water it at least once a week. If you notice that the soil seems to be pulling away from the sides of the pot, you need to water it. The soil shrinks away from the sides only when the plant needs more water. There are pots which take care of the watering fo you so if you want to automate this process go ahead and check out some of these pot styles.
Pluck the leaves carefully whenever you need some oregano. However, during winters be careful that you don’t use more than 50% of the leaves. Don’t pull the leaves from the plant & instead snip them with scissors if you don’t want to uproot the plant. The ideal temperature for growing oregano indoors is between 65-70 F during the day and around 55-60 F at night.