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Charlotte Amalie
Friday, December 2, 2022
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WHAT IS THAT STUFF?

Caribbean herbs are unique in more than one way. Take for example local oregano. It doesn't look anything like the typical oregano plant and some of the North side Frenchies on St.Thomas refer to it as wild thyme. But it looks nothing like the thyme plant you are used to seeing.
The first time I saw it, I had to have it. "What is that stuff?" I had never seen anything like it before. When I heard that it was local oregano, it made me want to own it even more!
Local oregano is a prolific grower and requires almost no care. Once it is in the soil, whether you be a container planter or farmer, it pushes out beautiful, fleshy green leaves as fast as it can.
When it begins to get too tall, simply pinch it off and stick the cutting into damp soil. Voila! You will have another plant before you can finish trimming the ones you started with.
CULINARY USE:
Local oregano can be used fresh from the plant right into your soup,
stew, sauce or salad. Substitute it everywhere you use regular oregano. Mind you, it is a strong flavor so a little experimentation should be done to find the right amount.
You can also pick and dry the leaves of the plant. Place them in a mesh or wicker-type basket and put them in the sunshine. When they have totally dried to the touch, store them in an airtight container in a dry location.
This herb, like many others, may be used to create an herb butter. A
simple method is to layer the butter with leaves of the oregano in between. Store in the refrigerator and next time you plan that Italian pasta meal, bring it to the table to slather onto your favorite bread. Don't remove the leaves, they add to the intrigue of the meal. Return remaining unused butter to the refrigerator.
For sauces and stews, simply pick fresh leaves, rinse, and add whole or chopped to your recipe. For fresh salads, I recommend tearing them as you would lettuce, leaving a few whole for garnish on the top.
If you are a bread maker, add it to your next batch of dough for a wonderful local flavor. Play around with its use and soon you won't be able to cook without it.
IN THE GARDEN:
This plant makes a beautiful ornamental plant for your gardens, window boxes or just a difficult area of your yard. It will grow well in full sun as well as partial sun and shade.
Left untrimmed it will fill out any spot you need coverage in.
Local oregano and nasturtiums compliment each other and present a spectacular aromatic and flowering show. I have local oregano growing in pots and other containers right along side Impatiens, Coleus and Morning Glory plants!
Water as you would any other plant and know that it is very tolerant. If
you see its leaves beginning to turn a bit yellow and the plant growth has slowed, water it more often and feed it with a good fertilizer. I recommend Peter's 10-10-10. Don't over fertilize.
Herbs notoriously prefer not to have this assistance, but I have found that the soil on St.Thomas lacks many things and sometimes has to have a booster.
MEDICINAL:
Just like regular oregano, the local stuff is reputed to be a home remedy for headaches, toothaches, upset stomach and many other ailments. Steep a few leaves in boiling water (to taste) for five minutes for a relaxing as well as healing tea.
Editors' Note: Pam Jackson has lived on St. Thomas for nearly 11 years. Her first job here was at Austin Advertising. She published the St. Thomas Courier, a weekly Sunday newspaper, for nearly a year until Hugo wiped out the St. Croix Avis where it was printed. Pam then did freelance work in promotions, advertising and marketing (P.A.M.) and had an office at Supreme Printing. She has also managed Ackley Communications and was the person responsible for the creation of volunteer DJs at WIVI Some of the original DJs she brought onboard are still working at the station. She is currently writing a children's book called "Where'd My Mommy Go?"; a novel; and a book on
Caribbean herbs.

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