After a few years of growth in the corner of my small kitchen garden, an oregano seedling had expanded into a six-foot diameter circle that I had to cut back each season in favor of planting annual vegetables.
More and more of us want to grow food, but for many, the idea is a bit intimidating. Just to get started you may need to prepare space in your yard or acquire containers for your deck or patio. Then there’s the question of what to grow? Starting with a finicky, hard-to-grow plant might lead to discouragement.
How about oregano? Sure, you’re not likely to make a meal out of this pungent herb, but you could use it to flavor all kinds of foods. And, for someone just starting out, there are few plants as certain to succeed as this one.
Without cover, oregano will survive winter down to hardiness zone 5. While you can start it from seeds, you’ll almost guarantee success if you buy oregano seedlings from a nursery or garden center.
Biblical rains in 2011 drowned many of my annual vegetables along with the rhubarb and the oregano. It was saddening to see the entire herb patch wither into soggy twigs.
You might discover that oregano grows quickly and spreads aggressively. To give you some idea, take a look at the first photo in this post. It features a large green blob that covers a six-foot diameter space in the corner of my kitchen garden. That blob started as an oregano seedling I bought through a school fundraising event. Four or five years passed from when I planted the seedling to when I created the photo, and I cut the oregano back several times in that time span.
Last year it rained in central Pennsylvania. I’m talking about rain of near biblical proportions. There was standing water in my garden for weeks, and it was a struggle to get annuals such as tomatoes, squash, corn, and beans to produce. All my rhubarb plants drown, and by winter all that remained of that big blob of oregano was a tangle of brown, soggy twigs.
From the rotting twigs of my dead oregano monster, this lone branch sprouted leaves in the spring of 2012. I transplanted it into the new herb bed I’d created at the end of 2011.
Still, this spring, leaves emerged from one of the dead-looking oregano branches. Wanting to add soil so flooding would be less likely in future wet seasons, I dug up that leafy sprig of oregano, held it for a few months in a nursery pot, and then planted it in a newly-prepared herb garden. To help the oregano behave, I set it inside of a root barrier (I’ve come to respect its enthusiasm to conquer).
As the photos show, in just three months the herb has nearly filled its confinement ring. I’ve harvested repeated through those months to flavor tomato sauces and meat marinades.
Do I think oregano is a great choice for someone starting their first kitchen garden? Yeah. You can grow that!
After three months, my oregano survivor spread throughout the root-containment ring in which I planted it.
Here’s why oregano is so capable of subjugating whole patches of a garden. The sprig in the photo was headed toward a sauce pan when I noticed roots emerging from the main stem. The sprig had not been in contact with soil but obviously it wanted to be. You can grow that!
Find more posts celebrating what you can grow at You Can Grow That!