Gardening: Make the most of hardy oregano

By Tod Palenski

Oregano is super easy to plant. Got a corner in your vege garden that looks a bit empty? Simply dig a little hole and plant your oregano seedling.

You don't even have to wait for oregano to grow to harvest from it - although it's best to wait a little while. If you let it get established before you start picking its leaves, it won't just be a one-hit wonder of a herb.

Given oregano is so easy to plant, try putting it in a hanging basket. You can't go wrong with a good hanging basket - and you can't go wrong with giving a good hanging basket this Christmas. If you've got kids, you can get them involved in the planting.

You'll need a basket and a plastic saucer to fit in the base. If you want to have plants growing out the side of the basket, purchase some sphagnum moss and a basket with small spaces in between the wires (so the moss won't fall out the sides). If you'd rather just plant the top of the basket like you would a pot, grab a basket with a coconut fibre lining.

Make sure your basket has a diameter of at least 350mm - the bigger the basket, the better, in my opinion.

A large one will retain more water, which means it's less likely to dry out.

You could add some parsley, thyme, basil or cherry tomatoes to your oregano, and even add strawberries to the sides. They take up very little room and the basket allows them to stay clear of the ground - which makes it harder for pests to get them.

Once you've got your tools and seedlings it's time to get started. Place your basket on top of a bucket so the curved base doesn't rock around.

It's a good idea to soak the sphagnum moss in a bucket of water first. It's a natural sponge, which means it will soak up water and provide the plants with ongoing moisture, plus it stops the soil falling out.

Once your moss is damp, place it along the bottom of the basket and approximately 50mm up the sides.

Next, sit the plastic saucer on top of the moss and pour in potting mix until it reaches the same height as the moss.

I like to use a slow-release fertiliser because it will feed the plants for up to four months - until I redo the baskets for winter.

If you're growing plants down the side of your basket, now is the time to lie their roots across the potting mix and poke the top of the seedlings through the sides of the basket. Then add another layer of moss over the top. This time, place the moss 100mm up the inside of the basket.

Add another layer of potting mix and seedlings, put another layer of sphagnum moss down and take it all the way up the inside of the basket.

Fill the container to the top with potting mix. (If you're using a basket with a coconut fibre, this is where you join in.) Now, simply plant your other seedlings.

Once you've finished your basket, tie a big ribbon around it and you've got the perfect gift.

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- Hamilton News

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