Oregano is a perennial and aggressive plant that likes to spread, and a bush of oregano can grow quite large if you allow it.
But would you want to allow it?
The best way to cultivate perennial shrubs is to constantly harvest them or trim them before flowering. This will help them grow better and healthy. But you also want to harvest them at the right time, which is why we’ll be showing you how to harvest oregano without killing the plant, as well as when to harvest oregano plant.
After all the tedious processes undergone in nurturing your oregano plant from seeding to maturity, you do not want to wrongly harvest them and miss more opportunities to harvest more in the subsequent harvest season.
To achieve this, you need to follow the due procedure to ensure that you keep reaping from your initial hard work.
Should I Let My Oregano Flower?
While oregano will bloom with beautiful flowers to beautify your yard, you’d want to choose between flowers or a bountiful harvest of valuable leaves.
As it is with many herbs, they tend to have better taste and effective just before they flower.
The majority of growers cultivate herb plants to harvest the leaves. So you don’t want to trade it for anything.
If this is the case, then it will be right to always harvest them or prune them just before they bloom.
It is even a recommended practice especially for oregano to cut the stems back to the ground. This will encourage more stems from the base and a fuller plant.
When Should You Harvest Oregano?
The height of the plant is an important factor in determining the right time to pick your oregano leaves.
Oregano plants can be harvested when the stems are at least four inches tall, but it is better at six inches.
Also, timing is very important to get the best flavor from the plant. Oregano is known for its strong, aromatic flavor. However, if you want a better flavor, it is best to harvest it just before the buds open. Waiting after the plant flowers before picking the leaves produces a bitter flavor instead.
You’d want to also harvest when the essential oils are more concentrated. The best time to achieve this is in the morning when the dew has just dried out.
How To Harvest Oregano Without Killing The Plant
Use a kitchen scissor or a hand pruner for harvesting the oregano. You want to select only the parts that are fresh, healthy with a cluster of leaves.
Cut off a portion of each stem. Depending on the initial height of the oregano plant, you should not cut more than 20% so the plant can grow back and give you the opportunity for more harvest before it gets dormant.
Harvesting Oregano Just Before Winter
As long as oregano is still within its season, you can harvest multiple times as you will. But when it starts to draw close to winter, you will have to take some precautions to ensure that the plants grow the next season.
Oregano does not thrive well during the cold season, your harvesting frequency before this time will depend on the health next season.
To avoid the risk of totally dying if you stop pruning or harvesting about two weeks before the forecasted winter comes.
How to Store Oregano Herb
If you have had a bountiful harvest, it should be preserved and stored to ensure that it lasts a while and if possible, throughout the winter season and beyond till the next harvest season.
There are different methods that you can apply to preserve your oregano.
Dry Using A Food Dehydrator
Food dehydrator is a good way to dry the oregano especially for places where there is not sufficient sun.
Pluck out the leaves from the stalk and wash the leaves and allow it to drain off the water.
Power on the dehydrator and set the temperature to about 100 F.
Spread the leaves on the trays and insert them into the food dehydrator and allow it to do the job. The time required to dry is between 1-4 hours. However, you must check on it at intervals to avoid burning your oregano leaves.
After the leaves are dried, put them in an airtight container and you will be able to enjoy the leaves as long as it lasts.
This is the best way to dry your oregano for storage because it is natural. However, the downside is that it takes time to be completely dried.
Use a thread to tie up some few stalks of the harvested oregano and look for a suitable place to hang them if you have got no drying rack.
Hang them in a place that allows good passage of air. Drying oregano using this method should take about 2 to 6 weeks.
What Parts Of Oregano Are Edible?
If you are just getting familiar with this plant and have never harvested them before, it is necessary to know what parts of this plant are edible for use.
Typically for most herbs, all parts are important and can be used for different purposes.
The oregano plant bears tiny leaves, which have a pungent scent and strong flavor. The leaves can be consumed fresh or dried, but the flavor is more pungent when the leaves are dried.
The flowers are not also left out. Some few gardeners allow the plant to bloom and the flowers are used as decorative in salads and to garnish.
Oregano plants usually have tough, woody stems and may not be consumable. However, if the stems are so tender that they snap, they're usually tender enough to eat or used as herb.
All parts of oregano are edible and useful depending on the intent.
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The key to harvesting oregano plant to ensure you don’t kill it lies in the timing, frequency of harvest and preparation for the winter.
After having a bountiful harvest of the leaves, it is necessary to preserve the plant for winter.