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Flavour your finances with marjoram farming

Crop
 Marjoram thrives in a warm, sunny environment. 

Marjoram, known scientifically as Origanum majorana, is a perennial herb in the mint family and is closely related to oregano. It is valued for its aromatic leaves, which are used for seasoning soups, sauces, salads, and meat dishes. In gardening, marjoram is appreciated not only for its culinary and medicinal uses but also for its ornamental value, adding beauty to herb gardens and attracting pollinators with its flowers, says Bernard Kago, a farmer from Kiambu.Mr Kago farms herbs and vegetables on his one-acre farm. He gives a guide on how to go about farming marjoram. 

Choosing a planting site

Marjoram thrives in a warm, sunny environment. It prefers temperatures between 18°C and 25°C but can tolerate a bit higher temperatures. Select well-drained, loamy soil with a pH between 6.0 and 7.5. Good drainage is crucial to prevent root rot. Choose a site that receives full sun for at least six to eight hours a day. 

Soil preparation

It is a good idea to have your soil tested to determine its nutrient content and pH level. Amend the soil based on the test results to achieve the ideal conditions. Generally, adding organic compost can improve soil structure and fertility. Prepare the planting beds by tilling the soil to a depth of about 12 inches (30 cm) to ensure it is loose and aerated. 

Planting

Marjoram can be started from seeds, cuttings or transplants. If starting from seeds, you can do so indoors. Transplant the seedlings outdoors when the temperatures are consistently warm. Space plants at about eight to 12 inches apart in rows that are 18 to 24 inches apart. This spacing allows ample air circulation and reduces the risk of fungal diseases. 

Watering and Fertilisation

Water the plants evenly and regularly, aiming to keep the soil moist but not waterlogged. Marjoram does not tolerate drought well, so consistent moisture is important, especially in hotter, drier climates. It does not generally require a lot of fertiliser. 

Care and maintenance

Weeding: Keep the area around the marjoram free from weeds. Mulching can help suppress weeds and maintain soil moisture.

Pruning

Regular pruning or harvesting helps to promote bushier growth and prevent the plant from becoming leggy.  

Pest and disease management

Watch out for common pests such as aphids and spider mites. These can often be controlled with insecticidal soap or neem oil. Marjoram is also susceptible to root rots and mildew if conditions are too wet. Ensure good drainage and avoid overhead watering to minimize these risks. 

Harvesting

Harvest the leaves as needed, preferably in the morning when the aromatic oils are strongest. For the best flavour, harvest just before the plant flowers. Cut the stems using clean shears, leaving about a third of the plant intact to encourage further growth.

Market

Mr Kago sells fresh marjoram in local markets from Sh30 a bunch. He also sells it in dried form. 

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