Monday, March 22, 2010

Weeding the Herb Patch

I cleaned up the herb patch over the weekend and mulched it with pine straw in effort to try to discourage more weeds from growing:

The soil in the herb patch is not very good quality and tends to grow weeds quite well. Each year the herbs fight it out with the crabgrass. Most of the perennial herbs in this spot came with the house and have been well established for many years. These include chives, garlic chives, and Greek oregano.

It was time to accept the fact that the Greek oregano isn’t going to grow this year. It was about a 1-foot wide planting when I purchased the house and has since expanded to a 2-foot oblong in this herb patch. I use Greek oregano in many dishes, soups, salads, sauces, and of course pizza topping. Here is a picture from last year:

Each growing season, I usually give oregano a trim once it flowers. Almost immediately, new shoots begin growing from the cut stems allowing me to harvest more before frost. Last summer there was no re-growth after trimming. At first I attributed it to the awfully rainy summer we had and hoped that it would recover in the spring.

When other perennial herbs were rousing from their winter slumber, the oregano continued to show no signs of life. This weekend, I inspected the original plant area carefully hoping to find some green growth, but found none. So I inserted a trowel to dig out a section and inspect the roots. I found it was indeed dead and began digging it out of the herb patch. So sad.

This will however, give me opportunity to amend the soil here with some good quality compost.

Luckily, I have transplanted a bunch to a different part of the yard and this second planting is still alive and growing well. But it is quite small right now and will take a few years to achieve the harvest that I am accustomed to:

I have planted seeds to replace the Greek Oregano in the same spot. Hopefully they will grow a strong cluster that will survive for years to come. They look like such delicate seedlings:

It's difficult to believe that these tiny seedlings will grow into a hearty perennial herb that expands year after year. Greek oregano is a perennial herb that is related to the Mint family. It can be invasive, so it is best to keep it confined area.


  1. This house came with it too ! At least I'm guessing by your photo and description of it, that the oregano growing at the side of the house, which I've enjoyed incognito for so long, is probably Greek oregano. It's been faithfully coming back every year since I've been here (18 yrs). I recently moved it to a wilder part of the garden where it can roam freely, if it so desires.

    I'm glad you're planting some more. Up with perennials !

  2. I don' cook much with oregano but love it's distinctive flavor. I have several oregano plants started at the moment. I might invest in a food dehydrator to preserve most of my herbs this summer.

  3. That was fortunate that you had moved a bit of the plant to another area! Good job on the bed tidy up.

  4. Oh no! And what good foresight on your part to have duplicated it. I don't know what I'd do without my large, weed-infested patch out back. The stuff out front isn't True Greek, and the taste is much less interesting.

    I am always interested in how other folks use herbs. I feel like a herb slacker.

  5. I have friends that have oregano and they claim that it is terribly invasive in their yard. I wish mine would grow bigger, but it always gets some spot disease by the end of the summer. So I get one cutting early on and it doesn't spread much at all.

  6. Good thing you propagated the oregano. A permanent herb patch sounds lovely. I'll be trying a few in a raised bed that stays pretty shady--too shady for veggies, really...

  7. Miss M: So glad I could help you identify the green growing at the side of your house. I agree, “Up with perennials!” I like low maintenance.

    Thomas: Hmmm…I wonder if Granny’s microwave method would work with oregano?

    KitsapFG: I never thought I would lose the main plant, but I thought it would be nice to add a clump near the door so it would be easier to harvest in a flash.

    Stefaneener: I know! Can you imagine being without oregano when you come from an Italian or Sicilian heritage?

    Daphne: I didn’t have problems with it spreading too much. Just a bit larger than the original plant. But everything I’ve research says it is can be invasive. I hope to have enough this year.

    Momms_S: I am so glad I transferred a section of oregano elsewhere too. I can’t imagine being without. I even potted up some to overwinter inside, but that one didn’t survive either (spider mites).