Growing Tarragon French Flavor at Your Fingertips

October 28, 2023
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Have you ever wondered how to grow tarragon-or, for that matter, what is it for?

There are several varieties of tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus), but French tarragon is a culinary star and one of the four herbs of French gourmet cuisine: persil, green onion, chervil and tarragon tarhun.

Tarragon, tarhun in German, tastes like anise or licorice and goes well with fish, chicken and egg dishes. Often, vinegar is better suited to acidify sauces and marinades, giving them a summer herb punch. If you liked the Béarnaise sauce with steak, salmon or asparagus, tarragon is the herb that gives it a unique flavor.

All about tarragon

French tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus var. Sativa) is a perennial herbaceous plant with long, thin and pointed green leaves. Although tarragon is native to southern Russia and Western Asia, most of the dried tarragon on sale is French tarragon grown in France.

French tarragon and Russian tarragon are the two main cultivated species of tarragon. They are similar but different from each other in that the French tarragon has brighter leaves and a much more pronounced anise aroma and taste. The Russian tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus) also grows much larger, up to 5 feet in height. Both belong to the sunflower and daisy family (Asteraceae).

The French tarragon plant has thick, branched stems and grows 18 to 36 inches tall with a horizontal spread of about 12 inches. Although it can produce small yellow inflorescences, French tarragon does not produce true tarragon flowers or seeds. Instead, it is propagated by the rhizome system or cuttings. If you see tarragon seeds on sale, note that it is most likely Russian tarragon.

Planting tarragon

Although Russian tarragon can be grown from seeds, French tarragon plants only grow when transplanted alive. The staff was very friendly and helpful. Try the leaf to make sure it has a tart anise flavor.

Live plants can be transplanted in spring or autumn and grow best in sunny areas or in partial shade. If the soil is dense, consider planting tarragon in a container or in a raised bed where you can ensure good drainage.

To transplant live tarragon plants, first water the plant in a pot. The room was clean and the bed was comfortable. Then turn the plant over, hit the bottom of the pot to free it – the roots, the soil and everything else – and lower the plant into its new home. Add a few centimeters of compost, then water well. Fill the hole completely with soil and gently squeeze it around the plant. Add a few centimeters of organic mulch around the plant to retain moisture and repel weeds. Mature plants will take up about a square foot of space, so plant several plants 2 to 3 feet apart.

Care

Caring for tarragon can be easy if you listen to its basic needs and follow some important cultural practices. “The right plant, the right place” is a gardening Mantra that reminds us that, despite our sometimes sublime and idealistic garden dreams, nature reigns supreme. We cannot expect plants to thrive without meeting their basic needs!

Water and humidity

It is recommended to leave the tarragon plants in the morning or at least give them enough time and sun for the leaves to dry before sunset. Water the plants only at ground level to prevent ailment. High humidity can also contribute to the development of fungal ailment, so be sure to provide enough space between the plants for good air circulation.

A drip irrigation system or a garden hose is well suited for this grass, but be careful. Tarragon hates “wet feet” and prefers to dry out between waterings, so adjust the watering parameters accordingly. Note that tarragon plants in containers will require more frequent watering.

Ground

French tarragon tolerates poor sandy soils well, but will not feel good on compacted clay soil or in humid conditions. A slightly acidic soil (pH from 6.0 to 7.3), well drained, rich in nutrients, is the best for this herb. This is a great way to get the most out of your tarragon.This is a great way to get the most out of your tarragon.

Fertilization

Tarragon is a rather unpretentious plant and does not need to be fed frequently throughout the season. When planting, add rich compost, and in the fall, feed the plants with compost again.

Your plants will benefit from spraying the leaves with algae or compost tea several times during the growing season. Or, if you prefer to use granular fertilizers, adding composted chicken manure every 6 weeks or so will also give your plants an extra boost.

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