Many of us who spend time in the kitchen or enjoy dabbling in herbal remedies or aromatherapy dream of growing their own herbs. Growing fresh herbs in your home or garden is an extremely enjoyable, relaxing, and rewarding pastime, but what should you grow?
Some herbs are simply easier to grow, and have a larger variety of uses than others, making them prime candidates. Through my research and experience I have come to the conclusion that marjoram is one of these. I would like to share with you the benefits of this delectable and healing herb, abounding in versatility.
Marjoram is an upright branching perennial herb native to the Mediterranean and North Africa. It was used to make garlands and laurels by the Greeks, who believed the herb to symbolize joy, harmony, and peace.
The leaves of this flower are soft and have a layer of fuzz, they are a grayish-green color and grow opposite each other on stems with a hint of red. Marjoram flowers grow in clusters which result in the herbs’ common name “knotted marjoram”; these flowers bloom in white, lavender, or pink.
There are two varieties of marjoram which are very similar; wild marjoram, and the more commonly used sweet marjoram. While usually trimmed and kept under the hight of one foot, a marjoram plant left to grow may reach two or even three feet of height.
Because of its mild and pleasant taste, marjoram is difficult to misuse in the kitchen. Used in many Italian and other European dishes, marjoram can be considered a substitute for oregano or even thyme. It adds a wonderful mild, sweet, fresh fragrance and taste to dressings, sauces and marinades. It can also be used in almost any dish, including vegetable dishes, soups, and egg or meat dishes, or in teas.
When used fresh, the leaves should be picked without the stem attached. Only use leaves void of yellow discoloration. Rinse the leaves in water and add to a dish near the end of preparation in order to avoid the flavor and nutrients being dulled by over cooking.
You can dry the marjoram you grow yourself by hanging the branches in a dark dry place. The length of the drying period will depend on the moisture and airflow where the herbs are hung. Once dried, it is best to store the leaves in an airtight glass jar in a dry and cool place.
Marjoram tea is delicious, easy to make, and very calming. Add fresh leaves or flowers to cold water and boil the tea with the leaves in it. Once the tea reaches a boil turn down the heat and let it steep for at least ten minutes. Add more leaves or flowers for a stronger taste, the general suggestion is about one teaspoon of the herb for each eight ounces of water.
This plant will add ascetic and fragrant qualities to wherever you choose to cultivate it. Marjoram can be grown in your garden or indoors as a potted plant and works well as a hanging plant as well. Marjoram has a rather wide pH range, but prefers a level from 6.5 to 7.5. Marjoram enjoys a lot of sun, so be sure you keep your indoor plant near a window, or supply it with sufficient fluorescent lights.
Marjoram seeds should be planted a quarter of an inch under loose and well drained soil and should take about 1-2 weeks to germinate, it is also easy to start a new plant by root division of an existing one. Water your marjoram regularly, making sure not to over water. Carefully allow the dirt to become dry between waterings. Marjoram grows well with most other plants and should be ready to be harvested about 3 months after being planted.
Once the plants are at least 4 inches tall, pick fresh leaves as needed. The best time to do this is just before the plant flowers, when the flavors of the leaf are at their peak.
Though risiliant to most diseases, marjoram occasionally falls prey to aphids or spiders, and may develop root rot when kept too moist. Bees, birds, and butterflies are known to be attracted to marjoram, making it a good herb to have around.
Marjoram is an important herb for women’s health. Due to its ability to quell muscle spasms, marjoram can help ease menstrual cramps, encourage menstruation, and even reduce the pains of child birth.
The muscle calming qualities of this herb also make it affective in treating coughs, headaches, colic, nausea, asthma, and indigestion or intestinal distress. Anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, and anti-bacterial healing properties are also attributed to marjoram, which can also be used to heal snake bites, bruises, joint pain, acne, arthritis, and pink eye. Eating, drinking, or smelling marjoram can also help relieve pain, fight infection, calm the nerves, soothe toothaches, fight insomnia, and slightly lower high blood pressure.
Marjoram can also help treat symptoms of the cold, flu, cough, and sore throat. Try drinking marjoram tea when suffering from these ailments, or using a marjoram chest balm. You can also take a marjoram bath or pour a few drops of marjoram essential oil into hot water and breathe in the steam.
Marjoram is an antioxidant-rich herb, high in many essential vitamins and minerals. The fresh herb contains a high amount of vitamin A and vitamin C, as well as many carotenes. One of the plants with the highest natural vitamin K content, sweet marjoram offers over 500% of the amount of this vitamin needed daily. Calcium, potassium, copper, magnesium, manganese, zinc, and iron are also present in high quantities.
There are many creative ways to use marjoram outside the kitchen. Try using this medicinal herb in your homemade salves, tinctures, and balms to help fight infection, sooth burns and bruises, relax muscle tension, ease joint inflammation, treat blemishes, and calm your mind.
You can also add fresh leaves or essential oils of marjoram to your bath water to receive its benefits and relax your mind and body. Marjoram baths are an easy and enjoyable way to relieve pain and treat insomnia or stress, and it is good for your skin too. Marjoram essential oil is known to be one of the most calming fragrances, proven to relax the brain waves. Due to its ability to relax and wash away stress, marjoram is commonly used as massage oil.
You might also want to try placing some fresh or dried marjoram in your closets, dressers, or drawers to keep them smelling delicately sweet and fresh. Try adding it to your potpourri to enliven an entire room, or place some dried branches in a vase as a centerpiece.
Try adding the use of marjoram to your life. Play with its many properties and uses and see if it can improve your mood, health, sleep, cooking and more.