Saturday, October 4, 2014

Just the right amount of oregano

If you like growing herbs, as I most definitely do, I'm sure you will have encountered the minor problem of having too much of a good thing on your hands. That's especially true if all your herbs are growing in the ground, rather than in pots.

When I had my oregano, thyme, sage and rosemary plants growing in the ground, I had far too much oregano, thyme, sage and rosemary, up to 100 times more of each herb than I could ever sensibly use in the kitchen. The benefits, however, were that these herbs were lovely garden citizens. They flowered their heads off, they sent up delicious scents as you brushed past them, and they really didn't need much help from me at all. And they flavoured hundreds and hundreds of delicious meals as well.

But they did take up a lot of space, and in my tiny garden I decided a few years ago that I'd grow all these herbs in pots, and it has proved to be a good move. The same herbs are all still happily here and enjoying the spring sunshine. The oregano in particular looks a treat at the moment. It's just the right amount, one pot-full.

What a pleasing mound of green it is in this wide, shallow pot.
The only thing it's not doing this spring is flowering, and that's
because my oregano plant pays a visit to the barber's shop
four or five times a year, and that clumsy barber called Jamie
cuts off all the flower buds in late winter.
This is what its flowers look like, little pink clusters which pop
up on stalks in late winter and early spring. I took this photo
a few years ago when our oregano was growing in the ground,
spreading like mad and flowering its head off. Back then I
had far too much oregano but it was a delight to have around.
This is another "from the archives" shot of the oregano trying
 to take over the succulent patch, back in its in-ground days.
If you read my most recent posting on sage, I recommended it as a garden plant, and I can easily do the same for oregano. It makes a good, easy-care ground cover provided it's in the sunshine most of the day, and the soil doesn't suffer from sogginess. It'll eventually misbehave, like the stuff pictured above, and will take over neighbouring beds if allowed. However cutting it back isn't an especially tough chore, nor is it needed more than once or twice a year at worst.

In fact, one of my early successes as a "learner gardener" many years ago was the way I slowly "marched" a patch of in-ground oregano from one spot in the garden to another spot a metre or two further away. All I did was cut off the left-hand side of the oregano patch regularly, but I let the right-hand side keep on spreading. After about 12 months the whole patch had "moved" to its new spot. I felt like I was getting there as a gardener with that little selective pruning ploy!

So if you're looking for a ground cover, oregano might do the trick. It's easy to find seedlings in garden centres, but you can also buy seed. In fact my potted oregano patch is seed-grown. I think that's part of the reason it's so lush. There's probably half a dozen plants in that one little pot, and that's a lot of youthful, pent-up energy in there.


Jess said...

Hi Jamie, great post as always! I find it really difficult to keep oregano and sage happy in pots. They seem to do better in the ground for me.

Lanie at Edible Urban Garden said...

Your pot of oregano looks beautiful. Particularly so since mine is rampant under the citrus trees (which they aren't too keen on). I am in the process of re-working my whole front think the oregano, rosemary and thyme might be popped into a big 1/2 wine barrel. Thanks for the inspiration.

Jamie said...

You're right, Jess, about these herbs doing better in the ground. They are a fair bit more work in pots, but most plants in pots need a lot more watering and general care. In the ground, oregano and thyme don't need any help whatsoever!

huma said...

Thanks for sharing this information! The oregano problem seems to be everywhere!
I found some Australian native grasses Online they are of a great quality and grow very well with less care.