Oregano thriving in an herb garden.
image by tibbygirl/flickr.com (http://www.flickr.com/photos/tibbygirl/2287237668/)
Gardeners who enjoy Italian cuisine often have a healthy oregano plant thriving out in the herb garden. Oregano is an accommodating herb that adapts to average garden soil and growing conditions. After the plant establishes itself in the garden, it will grow easily without special care and will return every year to provide delicious fresh oregano for every savory Italian dish you prepare.
Prepare the garden area for planting in early spring. Use the spade to work the soil down to a depth of 3 to 4 inches. Add a 2-inch layer of compost to the top of the soil, and work this into the soil completely. Rake the soil surface smooth.
Plant the oregano seeds under 3/4-inch of soil, spacing them 6 inches apart. Water the seeds carefully and keep the soil evenly moist during germination.
Watch for the seedlings to sprout approximately 14 days later. When the seedlings are several inches high, thin them so that they are 12 inches apart.
Keep the seedlings consistently watered during the first two months of growth. After this time, the oregano plants will be strong enough to tolerate fluctuations in moisture.
Control weeds around the oregano plant by pulling them by hand, as they appear. Lay down a 1-inch layer of mulch to prevent weeds and conserve soil moisture.
Harvest oregano before the plant flowers in the middle of the summer by trimming the top third of the stems off. If you wait to harvest until after the plant has bloomed, the taste of the oregano will be bitter. Harvesting in this fashion will encourage continued production throughout the summer and into the autumn.
Cut back the foliage to just above the soil after the first frost. Dry the removed foliage for use over the winter. Place a 3-inch layer of mulch over the plant roots over the winter to protect them from harsh temperatures. Look for new plant growth next spring.