The East London Garden Society

How to Harvest Oregano and Marjoram

Oregano, also called wild marjoram, is a well-known culinary herb which is best known for its use in pizza, spaghetti and a number of Italian dishes incorporating tomato bases.

Oregano, like basil and sage, is a member of the mint family and is a perennial. Marjoram is the main ingredient in store‐bought Italian seasoning, has a characteristically delicate, sweet flavour that is best when added late to a dish so that the flavour isn’t lost. Oregano and marjoram dry exceptionally well, with their flavours intensifying. The woody, floral perfume of freshly dried marjoram is heavenly and its flavour on chicken is truly wonderful.

Both types are fairly drought resistant but watering about every five days is essential. However be beware as it can be a prolific grower. Nonetheless, it is one of the more fragrant plants in the garden and will produce small white flowers for several months. Flower production in marjoram does not alter its taste.

Oregano is also highly valued because of its medicinal virtues and can be used as an extract for its antiseptic and antifungal qualities. Applied to a toothbrush with toothpaste will assist in fighting mouth infection, canker sores and alleviate tooth pain. It is also useful as an antiseptic/antifungal topical ointment, whether applied to a cut, ant bite, athlete’s foot or nail infection. Oreganol, the extract, truly works like thyme oil. The major constituent of oregano oil is thymol, so oregano oil/tincture can also be mixed into a powerful mouthwash.

To produce a greater number of branches and make a more productive plant, follow the main branch to a point right above a set of leaves and cut. Make sure you never trim to more than a third of the plant at any given time. Unlike marjoram, the oregano likes to ‘snake’ along the ground, spreading out tentacles of branches. These branches then form small roots on the underside which will eventually root into the new location. You can also force the plant to root in this way by covering sections of the branch with a small amount of dirt then digging out the section a few weeks later, severing it from the main plant.

Like thyme, bundle the oregano up with hemp cord and hang to dry. In only a few days it will be ready to store in a sealed jar. Crumble the leaves when needed for the strongest flavour.