Savory cultivation (Satureja hortensis) in the vegetable garden

An aromatic plant not as famous as others, although widely used in central and eastern European countries. In Spain we have ideal conditions for the cultivation of this herb that can season many stews and, as we say in the title, various pickles, which is where we believe it is most used in Spain. Go ahead and plant savory in the garden .



Savory is a plant that due to its scientific name ( Satureja hortensis ), it is almost a sin not to find a small place in the garden to cultivate it. Its specific name is already an indication that it is an aromatic herb typical of the garden. Not so much for its cultivation but for its spontaneous existence in many of the Mediterranean gardens.

It is native to the eastern part of the Mediterranean basin, although its current distribution goes much further and is concentrated in any place whose edaphoclimatic conditions are typical Mediterranean : on stony, limestone and dry soils with a warm or temperate climate. In Spain its cultivation and use in the Levant is very common.

There are a few dozen species of the genus Satureja . Another well-known is the mountain savory that is not the same as the one we cultivate. The wild savory is a lively species that has been displaced in the dressings by the hortensis because the wild savory has a much coarser and more intense aroma, less fine than the «hortensis».

In the Levant it is very common to use it as a dressing for olives and other pickles . If you buy seasoned olives, it is very possible that you will find a couple of sprigs of savory floating among the appetizing olives. In addition, its use (in Spain not so much) in meats and especially stews of all kinds aromatizes the dishes in a very special way. Moderate use is recommended because its aroma is intense and can mask flavors.


Let’s start with the sowing. It is usually done at the end of spring without going through a seedbed. The direct sowing will be done at a very shallow depth (5 mm) as we can see in the table of sowing aromatic and medicinal . In about 10 days it should germinate without major problems.


As we have already commented on the origins of this plant, the preferred soil is a typically Mediterranean soil. Stony, arid, chalky and therefore slightly alkaline (pH between 6.5 and 7.5). It does not support the humid soils typical of other aromatics such as chives, parsley or chervil. It withstands drought well but is not as resistant as others. If you see the soil very dry, do not hesitate to water it for proper growth.


Among its properties, the digestive and antiseptic and antioxidant stand out. The antiseptic part is mainly due to a compound contained in its essential oil called carvacrol , a phenol that is also found in oregano or thyme. Its use as a natural preservative is the order of the day. There are investigations of edible films and films of carvacrol.


The harvesting and use of fresh savory leaves and stems can be done at any time, although the period with the highest concentration of aromas is, as is usually normal, just before and during flowering . The stem should be cut before it becomes too lignified and always about 5-10 cm from the ground.

The drying of the leaves can be done but it retains many more aromas fresh or frozen at most. As we saw in the aromatic conservation table , savory is not the best aromatic to dry, although it is done and you can do it. But if you compare the aroma fresh and dried, you will notice the difference more than in others.

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