I was surprised to find that oregano was not listed in my herb books, but then I remembered that it might be under Marjoram and I found the right sections. I have never quite understood the oregano/majoram connection, fortunately it is explained in this blog post, and now I know that I do have oregano (Origanum vulgare) in my herb garden, which is a variety of majoram. My middle name is Marjorie, so I should know this stuff! I understand now that marjoram varieties are all a bit different, so this post is only about growing and using oregano.
How to grow Oregano
I can't even remember where my oregano plant first came from. It seems to be very robust and may have survived a few garden moves and periods of neglect. I keep it in a pot as it does tend to spread. I trim it back regularly as the stalks can get woody if the stems get too long. Its easily propagated by root division. It dies back after a heavy frost, but it always grows back. It does grow better in damp but well-drained soil (don't let it dry out or get too wet), however it will grow back when conditions are favourable. This is the first time I've ever seen it flower, and I didn't actually notice until I had trimmed it back, flowers and all! As its a perennial, it doesn't matter that it flowers occasionally, in fact its good for the bees. Basically this oregano plant I have is the ideal low-maintenance robust herb for my style of gardening!
How to use Oregano
I find that oregano is best dried as its much easier to crumble dried leaves than to chop fresh leaves. I like it on mushrooms (with butter), roast potatoes, in meatballs, added to casseroles and gravies. I put it in my herbal teas as well.
Medicinally, oregano (and marjoram) is known to aid digestion, antiseptic properties (particularly for inflammations of the mouth and respiratory conditions), relief from headaches. It can be used as an infusion, mouthwash or tincture.
The essential oil is warming and I include it in my muscle salve (which is based on this recipe, in which I substituted oregano for vetiver, as I couldn't get vetiver). Oregano essential oil is also useful as an antiseptic due to its high phenol content (thymol). (Note that marjoram essential oil has a different chemical composition).
Do you grow oregano (or any marjoram varieties)? How do you use oregano?