Green Thumb- Joys of Oregano
There are so many reasons to grow your own herbs. Even the simplest of dishes differs in taste when fresh herbs are used instead of dried, packaged supermarket varieties. Named the 2005 Herb of the Year, oregano blooms with purple blossoms from July through October. A member of the mint family, this species is a hardy perennial in warmer climates, is easily grown from either seeds or cuttings, and may be divided. (If you are growing from seeds, sow them in rows 18" apart, early in the season; cover lightly with soil, and thin the young plants to 12" apart.)
Oregano is not only a useful and usual addition to any herb garden, it also makes a wonderfully easy-to-grow houseplant! While it is still small, place it in a sunny window in well-drained soil and watch it grow! After a winter's enjoyment of the plant, when Jack Frost is no longer a danger, transplant it outdoors. Not a fussy plant, oregano does fine in average soil, and will tolerate dry soil conditions. In fact, it is a native of the Mediterranean region and is perfectly capable of withstanding droughts.
Withholding fertilizer actually causes oregano to produce a stronger flavor. Harvest after the plants have produced several dozen leaves; the young tender leaves produce the best flavor when picked early in the morning when the oils are strongest. To ensure that the leaves do not turn bitter, pick the flower buds upon first appearance; blooming leads to bitter leaves.
The name oregano comes from the Greek oros, meaning "mountain" and ganos meaning "joy." The plant grows joyously wild in the mountains of Greece.
During the Roman-Greco era, marrying couples were crowned with it, as it is a symbol of honor, good luck, and good health. If you weren't already affianced, you could anoint yourself with oregano prior to sleep, and you would dream of your future spouse.
Mix the dried leaves with honey, and you have a balm that is said to aid in fading bruises. Brew oregano tea by steeping 3 tablespoons of fresh crushed oregano leaves in 8 ounces of boiling water for 10 minutes; drinking this mixture is said to ease coughs and indigestion, and to aid in achieving a restful sleep. And we all know it's an excellent spice!
We hope you'll enjoy this aromatic, medicinal and culinary gem: oregano.
Information provided by Green Thumb International Santa Clarita
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