Organic Oregano and Clover
Answered by: Richard Alan Miller
Question from: Gan and Dan Cappelletti
Posted on: May 16, 2007

My husband and I have decided to take up organic farming. We do not have any experience so hence the enquiry. I have 20 acres that are in transition (2nd year) to be certified as organic. I would like to plant oregano or clover on it. Would you be able to tell me what would be the quantiy of seeds I need to plant to cover the land. Would I be able to plant rows of oregano in between of rows of clover? I look forward to hear from you, also any suggestions are welcome.

You probably need to read some of my books, especially "The Potential of Herbs as a Cash Crop" and "Getting Started" (available at www.herbfarminfo.com). Oregano is grown from seedling (10,000 plants per acre), while red clover is drilled (usually at 3 per drill-point). Richters can help you with how much seed for the clover, while you won’t need much oregano, having a good germ ratio.

[There are 3800-4500 seeds per gram of oregano seeds. If you plant directly in the ground (not recommended) you need 2.5-3kg of seeds per hectare or about 1 kilogram per acre. It is better to first sow in flats or plug trays and then transplant to the field when the plants are strong enough to withstand transplanting at 4 weeks; and you will need about 200-500 grams per hectare, or 80-200 grams per acre. -- Ed.]

Also, I would grow crimson clover, because it is MUCH easier to harvest the flower. You can use a side-bar cutter to take the uniform growing height of the flowerhead, while red clover is almost impossible to harvest by any means (including by hand). You will need a Draper, described and shown in the "Getting Started," including how to propagate the Oregano.

Crimson clover is identical to red clover for chemistry and marketability. It is a bit more red than the red clover, showing the iron in the plant. It was used as a cover crop for the Olympic Peninsula years ago, and I personally think is far better for soil amendments, hay crops, and the herb trade. It also holds better, and yields more flower-heads.

Now, the selection of oregano is not simple, as it tends to cross-talk with other plants. This is how marjoram was created. The specific one I like best for markets is Oreganum hirtum L., also known as Greek oregano. Origanum heracleoticum L. is even a better one to grow, if you can find it. It is a mint, and grown exactly like lemon balm, shown in the "Getting Started" book.

To finish your questions, the oreganos should always be grown as row crops, while the clovers are always drilled as solid fields. They will companion plant nicely, and have done this myself in years past.

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