Grow marjoram, among the aromatic herbs, marjoram is a very interesting cultivation: it can be grown simply both in the ground and in pots. It is a plant of Asian origin, now fully widespread as a Mediterranean aroma, used in all European cuisine, in particular in French and Italian cuisine. It also has medicinal properties, so it is used in decoctions and infusions.
Like many other aromatic plants of marjoram, the leaves are used directly, which can be dried but it is always better to pick fresh from the plant. For this reason, it is a plant that is useful to have in the home garden or on the terrace, so that it is always available for use in the kitchen.
Let’s see below a marjoram cultivation guide (grow marjoram), to learn what it takes to grow it organically and keep it in the ground or pot.
The marjoram plant
Marjoram is of the same species as the most widespread and well-known oregano, not for nothing its scientific name is origanum Majorana, it is part of the Lamiaceae family, as well as the other main aromatic and medicinal herbs, including rosemary, thyme, and basil.
The marjoram plant shares most of the characteristics of oregano: it is a bushy shrub with perennial cultivation. The leaves are small and characterized by a slight down on the upper page, during flowering it produces small pink flowers.
With winter it loses its leaves but does not die, the plant will return to vegetate richly at the end of the cold.
The taste and aroma of the spice are also reminiscent of oregano, although it is more delicate. Marjoram is less known than the main aromatic herbs, but in reality, it is used very often in the kitchen even without knowing it. It is in fact found as a fundamental ingredient of many mixes of aromas, in particular, it is always present in those based on Provencal herbs.
Suitable soil and climate
Clima. Being a Mediterranean aromatic plant, marjoram loves a climate that is not too harsh, fears winter frosts, and happily lives in sunny positions. In northern Italy and in general, in areas where winter is very cold, this spice can still be grown, taking care to protect it from the cold. If we keep it in pots, the plant can be moved to sheltered areas, otherwise, we can repair it with mulch or coverings that can limit the frosts, in these cases a decisive pruning before the cold (therefore in autumn) is also recommended.
Where very cold winter temperatures do not allow cultivation it is always possible to keep marjoram as an annual plant and re-sow it every year, as we do with basil.
Terrain. Marjoram is not at all demanding in terms of soil, the only condition is the absence of water stagnation. Light organic fertilization while not strictly necessary can help, compost or manure are fine.
Sowing. Marjoram must be sown in early spring. If you have a repaired seedbed you can do it already in February, otherwise, we wait for March and April. The seedlings will be transplanted in the open field or a larger pot when they exceed 6-8 centimeters in height.
Transplant. You can also decide to buy larger seedlings already formed in the nursery, in this case, we can transplant in any period of the year, excluding very cold periods.
Recommended organic seeds: Marjoram seeds (reproducible, non-hybrid, non-GMO varieties, suitable for organic gardens).
The cultivation of marjoram
Mulch. Marjoram mulch can be very useful for repairing the plant in the winter months by preventing the ground around the roots from freezing.
Irrigation. This plant should not be watered often because, like many medicinal products found in the Mediterranean areas, it can take what it needs to grow and survive the seasonal rains. If the plant is developed, irrigations are therefore limited to periods of exceptional drought, while when the marjoram is young it is better to water periodically, always in moderation. Excess water causes disease and rot.
Pruning. It is advisable to cut the branches of the marjoram every year by shortening them, it can be done in January or February. It is a non-essential job but allows you to keep the size of the shrub regulated and to have branches that are always young, more comfortable to use, full of tender and fragrant leaves. In cold areas, the branches of the marjoram can be pruned in autumn, in order not to leave parts of the plant exposed to possible frosts.
Parasites. This plant, like many herbs, has a repellent action on various insects unwelcome in the garden and does not suffer much from insect problems. This is why it is an excellent crop to be included in the organic garden.
Grow marjoram in pot
Marjoram can also be successfully grown on the balcony or windowsill, just choose a suitable size pot. As topsoil, it is recommended to make a mixture of sand and peat or rich loam. Potted sand is particularly useful for keeping the soil loose and light. If you grow it on the balcony, the plant will go wet but not too frequently and never abundantly. In general, the various precautions explained in the article on pot cultivation apply.
When and how to collect leaves
The leaves of the marjoram are used, preferably small and tender, so it is better to take the twigs from the top. I recommend choosing them from the most recent and least woody ones. The best thing is to keep the plant in a pot or the garden adjacent to the house and pick the twigs as needed, just before using the spice.
If you want to dry, we can choose to pick whole branches, so you can hang them for drying.
Use in the kitchen and medicinal properties
Use and storage of the spice. Marjoram is excellent when used fresh, just rub a few leaves between your fingers to feel the aroma that is released. Alternatively, it can be frozen or dried, losing part of the perfume. In the kitchen, marjoram is excellent for flavoring meat or tomato sauces, it is often found in Mediterranean-type spice mixes, in particular in those of Provencal-style herbs, of which it is the main ingredient.
Properties of Marjoram
Marjoram is a medicinal plant rich in vitamins and positive substances for the body, such as antioxidants (beta-carotene). The properties attributed to this herb are above all antispasmodic (therefore beneficial against cough), calming, and digestive (like oregano, therefore it would have a positive effect on the gastrointestinal system). To benefit from the properties of marjoram, decoctions, infusions or herbal teas can be made with the dried leaves of the plant.
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