Tarragons come in two varieties; French tarragon is intensely flavoured and more popular with foodies, and Russian tarragon has a less intense flavour.
This herb is not commonly grown at home, but if you are a fan of French cuisine, where tarragon is a traditional ingredient, it is worth the effort. Salads, fish, eggs, and chicken dishes benefit significantly from the aromatic, slightly aniseed-flavoured leaves of perennial tarragon. In addition, the leaves can be used to infuse white wine vinegar and to flavour buttery béarnaise sauces.

Sowing tarragon

In order to grow well and produce highly flavoured leaves, the herb requires a sunny, warm and sheltered location. Especially well-drained soil is crucial for French tarragon, which grows well in light, sandy soils low in nutrients. On the other hand, the plant hates wet conditions, and if the soil is too rich, it can become straggly and more likely to die.
There’s no need to be fussy with Russian tarragon, but it still dislikes wet soil. Tarragon thrives in neutral to alkaline soils; it does not grow well in acidic soils.
Unlike mint, tarragon spreads underground by runners, but its vigorousness makes it unlikely to be a problem. Keeping it in a pot and in a sunny position will prevent it from running and provide good growing conditions.
Russian tarragon seeds can be sown in small pots of good seed compost from April to May. Covering the seeds is not recommended. Plant in a propagator at a temperature of 15-20°C (60-70°F).
Transplant seedlings into small pots once they are large enough to handle. Continue growing them in cooler temperatures – around 10°C-50°F – until they are large enough to be planted outdoors after the risk of frost has passed, following acclimatization (7-10 days). Space your plants 45cm (18in) apart.


Growing tarragon

You will need to buy and plant the young French variety in the spring because it does not set seeds or flowers. In addition, the French tarragon plant lives for a relatively short period. They should last for at least 3 or 4 years but eventually will need to be replaced.
Some good compost, especially if the soil is heavy clay, can improve drainage by digging over it and adding bulky organic matter.
Adjust the planting depth. It needs to be planted the same depth as it was originally planted, and the top of the roots are about level with the surface of the ground.
Fill in the planting hole with the excavated soil mixed with organic matter. Water in well. also apply a light dressing of a granular general feed over the ground.
It’s unlikely that ground plants will need any watering in summer, but very light, fast-draining soils may require watering during prolonged dry periods.
During the summer, give plants one or two light feeds with liquid plant food.
For a steady supply of tasty leaves, remove any blooms that may occur.
In the winter, plants will die down to the ground. It may be necessary to protect plants from the cold by covering them with a cloche, thick fleece, or straw during the winter. After the plant has died down during the winter months, move it to a sheltered location. A shed or garage is an ideal place.

Harvesting Tarragon

The leaves can be harvested from May until September/October whenever needed, using scissors or secateurs. The taste of young leaves is stronger and more intense. The leaves can either be dried or frozen for winter use. The best way to preserve leaves picked in mid-summer is to freeze them.
You can also make tarragon vinegar by adding young sprigs to a bottle of white wine vinegar.


Check out these 40 recipes using tarragon from Taste of Home

Here’s a wonderful array of herb seeds that will delight any garden:

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07/08/2021 | Herbs | 0 Comments

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