I'm Marcy Lautanen-Raleigh growing herbs is a passion I've had for more than 20 years now. The Backyard Patch is my own herb business started in 1995. I specialize in fresh, amazing, organic blended herbs. Those for cooking, tea and bath -- and they are all home-grown and hand-blended. In the last 20 years I have gained a knowledge of herbs and their flavors that I share here.
This year the Men's Garden Club of Villa Park is having a plant sale we have dubbed "Heirlooms and Herbs." Catering to the home gardener who wants to grow more of their own food, the plant sale will have several varieties of heirloom vegetables and a nice selection of herbs, in addition to perennial flowers as we have had in the past.
I am on the plant sale committee so I got to pick many of the herbs we will be having. For our first year with this new theme we are sticking to culinary herbs, but if there is a demand for more medicinal herbs, we may be able to work that in next year.
The sale will be May 9 and 10, 2015 -- For pre-order or location details check out the Garden Club website.
I decided to highlight one of the herbs you will find at the sale as
Herb of the Week - Marjoram Origanum Majorana
Sweet Marjoram, also known as knotted marjoram has a variegated variety that is also just as tasty.
(Origania vulgare ‘ Aureum’) variegated golden marjoram.
In some cases this plant is considered to be interchangeable
or the same as oregano, but although the flavor is similar they are two separate
species. In ancient times marjoram was associated with marital bliss. The Greek called it “joy of the Mountains”
and used to in garland and wreaths at weddings and funerals. It is said to precious to Aphrodite, the
goddess of love. It was a traditional
plant to plant on a grave the sweet gentle scent to give comfort to the
mourners. If you anointed yourself with
marjoram before sleeping, you would dream of your future spouse.
Generally speaking Wild Marjoram (Origanum vulgare)is known as oregano and although similar to Marjoram is in another family but with a similar taste.
Grown as a annual in cool climates, this plant can get 12
inches tall in one season. It has tiny
white flowers in a knot and round pale green leaves, both of which are highly
aromatic. Because marjoram seeds are
small and slow to germinate, they are usually started indoors in mid-spring for
setting out when all danger of frost has passed. They desire a sunny location with rich,
well-drained soil and space the seedlings in clumps of three, every 6 to 8
inches. Five clumps are all you need to
and average hungry family. Be sure to
weed them carefully as the seedlings are very tiny.
Pinching the plant regularly will give it a bushy
shape. It is hardy only in zone 9 and 10
and even then it is I tender perennial, if you want to propagate for next
season, you need to allow the roots to develop so you can dig the plant up in
fall and divide it. You will then bring
the plant indoors for winter use and for replanting in the spring.
Because it is a slow grower you generally only get one
cutting a year the farther north you live.
A second cutting may weaken the plants ability to winter over. But is you are treating it as an annual, you
do not need to worry about this and can cut as often as you want. The aroma from the plant is an active pest
deterrent so much concern over pests is not needed.
Unlike many herbs marjoram retains much of its flavor when
dried. Be sure to dry it away from light
to preserve the color and flavor.
As a folk remedy, Marjoram has been used against asthma,
indigestion, rheumatism, toothache, conjunctivitis and even cancer, but it is
doubtful that it has much medical value beyond minor antioxidant and anti-fungal
When used in culinary situations is it like a mild oregano
with a hint of balsam. Leaves and
flowers are used fresh or dried. Use
fresh sprigs in salads. Italian dishes,
French sauces and Portuguese cooking all enjoy marjoram as a regular
ingredient. A tasty compliment to beef,
veal, lamb, roast poultry and fish dishes it is also a wonder flavor with
vegetables like carrots, cauliflower, eggplant, potatoes and parsnips as well
as tomatoes. If is also a great companion
herb when bay leaf, garlic, onion, thyme and basil are used. You cannot make a German sausage without it.
Wild Marjoram, more kin to oregano, was once used as a strewing herb to freshen
and protect homes from disease. Marjoram
is also a popular ingredient in bath salts and tub teas. The scent is soothing and relieves aches and
pains and chest congestion.
Dried flower heads make wonderful winter bouquets and can be
added to wreaths, especially culinary wreaths.
The tops of the plant can be used to make herbal dyes from a green to an
Be aware that Marjoram may irritate the uterus if used
during menstruation or pregnancy, otherwise there are no restrictions or
problems with its use.
Marjoram compliments so many other herbs it is common in seasoning blends and with a variety of dishes. I have many different recipes which utilize marjoram and I only chosen a few to include here!
Place roast in a plastic bag set in a deep bowl. For
marinade, in a mixing bowl combine wine, lemon juice, olive
oil or cooking oil, pepper, rosemary, marjoram, Worcestershire sauce,
mustard, and garlic salt. Pour marinade over roast. Seal bag. Marinate in the
refrigerator for 6 to 24 hours, turning bag occasionally.
Remove roast from bag, reserving marinade. Place roast, fat
side up, on a rack in a shallow roasting pan. Insert
a meat thermometer. Roast in a 350 degree F oven for 1-1/4 to 2-1/4
hours for medium (160 degrees F) or 1-1/2 to 2-1/2 hours for well-done (170
degrees F), brushing with marinade occasionally. (Do not brush with marinade
during the last 5 minutes of roasting.) Cover with foil and let stand 15
minutes before carving. Makes 8 to 10 servings.
Herb Dressing Blend
1 cup dried parsley
½ cup dried basil
½ cup thyme
½ cup savory
½ cup marjoram
Mix together dry ingredients and store in an air-tight
container. Each time you need a dressing, shake together 1 Tbls.of the herbs
mixed with ¾ cup olive oil and ¼ cup vinegar.
Olive Herb and Goat
1 sheet puff pastry
1 6 oz can of Large Black Olives
4 oz goat cheese
8 oz cream cheese, softened (Neufchatel is less calories)
1 Tbls fresh marjoram or oregano (1 tsp. dry)
1 tsp. fresh thyme (lemon thyme if you have it) or ½ tsp
½ cup chopped tomato
1 Tbls. chopped fresh basil (for garnish)
Preheat oven to 350 degreesF. On a lightly floured surface, roll the puff pastry with the
rolling pin three to four times in each direction, making the pastry thinner,
longer and wider. Cut the puff pastry into 3 inch squares. Place the pastry squares
on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper.
In a food processor, add the olives, goat cheese and cream
cheese. Pulse until well combined. Then
fold in chopped marjoram and thyme. Top the pastry with 1-2 Tbls of the olive and herb mixture.
Bake until the edges of the puff pastry turn a light golden
brown, about 15-18 minutes. Transfer to a serving dish and top with tomato and
I could go on giving recipes with marjoram, but I suggest
instead that you use the “search” in the blog (off to the right) and type in
marjoram and see what pops up, as this versatile herbs is a go-to for me often!