Marjoram is a year round favourite herb in our garden always close to hand and regularly appearing in the kitchen. It has an almost lemony, flower-fragrant taste and smell – a touch more delicate than its cousin Oregano. We use it on pizzas and salads, with fish, chicken and pork as well as in tomato sauces, soups and stews.
Companions Aubergine, pumpkin, courgette.
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Sweet marjoram a popular variety with woody stems that grow to just under knee height and carry loads of smallish aromatic leaves. Strongly flavoured, the most common form of marjoram for the kitchen.
French marjoram used in ‘herbes de Provence’. Has a milder taste than Sweet marjoram but grows taller – to around knee height.
Plant or sow in early spring and summer.
Marjoram does best in a sunny spot but I have it growing in partial shade where its leaves retain a more rounded, delicate flavour through the hotter months of summer. In full sun and on poor soil its fragrance is intensified. It is a great herb for growing in pots along with other herbs and along the edges of flower or vegetable beds as decoration.
Marjoram likes a free-draining, fertile soil that has been enriched with a little rotted manure or compost. Marjoram grows up to about knee height.
In early spring, sow seeds a finger-tip deep directly into the garden or proposed container. Thin seedlings as they develop so that plants end up with about a full hand’s length between them.
Plant shop-bought seedlings with an average spacing of a good hand’s length between them.
Water young seedlings in dry periods. Once they are established and starting to grow you shouldn’t need to continue with watering unless weather is persistently dry and your soil dries out. Mulch to retain soil moisture.
Marjoram grows quickly once the full warmth of summer settles in. Keep picking to stimulate fresh. Cut stems before plants flower (flavour suffers on flowering). Use fresh or tie stems into a bundle and hang upside down to dry. When you need marjoram for a recipe all you need do is grab your bundle and rub or crush the stems until sufficient dried leaves have crumbled into your dish. Marjoram can also be frozen in plastic bags and crumbled or defrosted and chopped.
Allow one of your marjoram plants to flower and self-seed and you may be rewarded with a free crop next spring and summer. If you are in a cooler part of the country with winter frosts then plant marjoram in pots and move them to a greenhouse or take indoors during winter months.