Table of Contents
- 1 Etymology
- 2 Varieties
- 3 Planting tarragon
- 4 Growing tarragon
- 5 Diseases
- 6 Pests
- 7 Tarragon uses
- 8 History and facts
Tarragon (lat. Artemisia dracunculus) is a plant that belongs to the family Asteraceae. The translation of the original Latin name means "dragon", which is why tarragon is also called "dragons grass". Another popular name for the plant is tarragon wormwood.
As a shrubby plant, tarragon has a branched and strong root system that mainly spreads horizontally on the upper surface of the soil. The stem is also branched and can grow up to 150 cm (5 ft). The rhizomes are long while the leaves are narrow, bright green, 2 to 8 cm (1 to 3 in) long and 2 to 10 cm (1 to 4 in) wide. The small and yellow-green flowers are round, are pollinated by the wind and bloom from June to September.
Tarragon is a perennial aromatic plant that originates from Russia, more precisely Siberia, but today is present throughout entire Europe as a wild plant popularly used as a spice.
Tarragon or lat. Artemisia Dracunculus is an Easter European plant that belongs to the wormwood genus. The word originates from the Medival Latin word "tragonia", Spannish "taragona", Greek drakon "dragon, serpent", Arabic "tarkhon", Byzantine Greek "tarchon", Italian "targone" and French "estragon" including with unetymological prefix. Tarragon has aromatic leaves that, for centuries, have been used for flavoring food and vinegar.
According to the geographical area, there are two types of tarragon, namely French and Russian tarragon. There’s also a third variety, the so-called Mexican tarragon, which is a type of marigold that is mainly used in southern states and has a particularly sweet taste.
French tarragon is also called German tarragon. It is highly valued because it contains approximately 3% essential oil. It has a green, long and narrow leaves with a strong aroma which is why it’s used as a spice around the world. It usually grows up to 1 m (3 ft) in height and cannot be grown from seed, but by cuttings or rhizomes.
The second variety is Russian tarragon, which is a form of wild tarragon. As such, it has a weaker aroma and is generally avoided in cooking because it lags behind French tarragon in terms of both aroma and quality. It can grow more than 1 m (3 ft).
Its leaves are also long, but rougher in texture and light green. Since it originates from Siberia, it is extremely resistant to cold. Like French tarragon, it bears fruit during the summer and can be propagated by seeds.
Tarragon can be planted in both larger and smaller areas, and it is necessary to know the best time and methods of planting and the requirements for soil and temperature.
Best time to plant
Tarragon should be planted in spring or fall by preparing furrows 10 to 12 cm (4 to 5 in) deep in the open and at a distance of 60 to 70 cm (2 ft) between rows.
Planting from seeds
Sowing should be done outdoors in early spring or in the fall before the first snow appears, in rows in moist soil. It is also recommended to cover the crop with a film that should be removed after the plant has germinated. If cultivated at a temperature of about 20°C (68°F) the first shoots will appear after about 15 days.
Planting seedlings is considered to be more successful than planting from seed. If you decide on this method, it should be done in early March. Ensure that the soil is light and permeable with an optimal amount of humidity. When two leaves appear, the seedlings should be thinned, and the distance between the remaining sprouts should be at least 6 cm (2.5 in) .
Planting in the open should be done when the warm weather arrives, usually in June. It can be transplanted by two sprouts at a respectable distance of 30 x 60/70 cm (1 x 2 ft).
Growing in pots
Tarragon as a plant that can be very easily grown in gardens or even balconies. All you need is one pot and fertile soil with a pH of 6.5 to 7.5. Planting should be done indoors, in the spring. The pot should be placed in a place with little light because tarragon grows best at room temperature. The plant should be watered regularly but moderately.
The measure for how much water the plant needs is the humidity of the soil - only when the soil is almost completely dry, the plant should be watered again. The seeds will start to grow after 10 or 14 days and then the pot should be taken outside because, in this way, it will be able to absorb the light without hindrance.
When the plant reaches approximately 6 cm (2.5 in) in height, the seedlings can be thinned to a single stem. In about 7 weeks when the plant is 30 to 90 cm (1 to 3 ft) tall it is ready for harvest.
French tarragon is propagated vegetatively, i.e. by stolons, and Russian tarragon is propagated generatively, i.e. by seed. For the cultivation of stolons, it is best to use plants that are 2 or 3 years old. The stolons should be plowed and cleaned of overhead wooden parts. Then, they should be cut into pieces that are 15 to 20 cm (6 to 8 in) long and planted the same day.
Vegetative propagation can also be done with rhizomes, using parts of plants that are 2 to 3 years old. Propagation starts by removing the rhizomes from the above-ground wooden parts of the plant and then cutting them into pieces that should be 15 to 20 cm (6 to 8 in) long. It should be borne in mind that they should be planted the same day in a row spacing of 60 to 70 cm (2 ft) and in furrows 10 to 12 cm deep (4 to 5 in). The furrows should be closed immediately after planting, after which they should be rolled with a smooth roller.
Although tarragon is not overly demanding in terms of cultivation, it is necessary to know how to apply suitable fertilization, its good companions, and perhaps most importantly, the method and amount of optimal watering.
The best crop rotation for tarragon are those that, after you harvest them, they leave a weed-free, nutrient-rich soil. Fertilized root crops and annual legumes such as beans, peas, soybeans and lentils make the best crop rotation.
Tarragon is a popular plant that is considered a nurse plant, as it drives away most pests which is why is often used as a barrier plant between other plants in garden beds. The most favorable plant is eggplant as it is popularly believed that tarragon increases the flavor and yield of eggplant crops.
It generally improves flavor of any neighbor especially tomatoes, oregano, oranges, mulberries, marjoram, marigolds, limes, lemons, goji berries, beans and artichokes.
Estragon grows well in warm and humid areas and is resistant to cold winters as well as frost. Bright and semi-shady places suit him best. Shoots will begin to sprout at a temperature of approximately 17 to 20°C (61 to 68°F).
Depending on the type of soil, tarragon can be grown on fresh and light humus soil that is nutritious and clayey. It can also grow well on alluvial soil. However, the highest yield of tarragon will be achieved if planted on alluvial soils. As a perennial crop, it can be grown on the same area for 5 to 10 years.
When it comes to the preparation of the soil, it is necessary to remove the previous crops immediately before planting. If small grains have been previously planted, pollination should be done first, and then, in late September or early October, start plowing the soil to a depth of 30 cm (1 ft) .
If no manure has been added to the soil for cultivation in the previous year, then add approx. 50 t/ha in early spring. Regarding basic fertilization, mineral NPK fertilizer should be applied - 70 to 90 kg/ha of phosphorus, 120 to 140 kg/ha of potassium and 70 kg/ha of nitrogen before the beginning of vegetation and 30 to 40 kg/ha after each harvest.
Furthermore, nitrogen fertilizers are used in mid-April while the second fertilization should be done after the first harvest by applying the same amount of fertilizer.
Tarragon should be watered regularly but moderately. This means that you should not overdo it because otherwise, the plant may wither. This is especially important when the first rains occur. They should be watered carefully so as not to break the shoots and not to corrode the soil. It is advisable to do all the watering by spraying the plant instead of the usual watering. In general, it can be watered once a week, but monitor the soil humidity. If you notice that the soil is still moist, watering should be postponed until it is completely dry.
Tarragon maintenance and care include proper watering, inter-row cultivation and fertilization. In order to ensure the lightness of the soil and protection from weeds, it is necessary to perform inter-row cultivation and watering several times a year. The first inter-row cultivation and watering should be done in early spring and should be repeated 10 to 25 days later. Repeat the process if needed, but certainly immediately after the first harvest.
Tarragon leaves and young shoots should be harvested before the first frost. The root can be preserved planted in an ordinary pot and thus placed in a window will create greenery throughout the winter. Usually, tarragon is harvested twice a year - in late June or early July before flowering as well as in late September.
Young tarragon twigs can remain fresh 4 to 5 days in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. Dried tarragon can be stored for 1.5 to 2 years under proper conditions.
It is not recommended to put tarragon through the process of drying as this way the plant will lose its specific aroma. If you do decide to dry it, hang a bunch of twigs in an airy and dark place and leave it for several days until completely dry.
Tarragon does not suffer from too many diseases, but rust and chlorosis are still possible. Control is carried out by removing infected leaves, digging up the plants and washing their roots, and then replanting them in a pot or garden. Of course, this will only be possible to do if you grow tarragon in smaller quantities.
As for pests, you might notice wireworms that destroy the root and above-ground parts of the plant. They can be controlled by inspecting the soil and applying an appropriate insecticide.
Tarragon is a very well-known plant with strong healing properties and as such is often used for medicinal purposes, while in cooking, tarragon is used as one of the spices.
Use in cooking
The above-ground parts of the plant, most often the leaves, are collected until fall and used fresh or dried as spices. Tarragon is a common, if not the main, ingredient of French cuisine. It goes well with green salads, and is also good in marinades for meat.
It is possible to order "chicken with tarragon" in European restaurants, and it is actually chicken that is roasted on the entire plant twigs which is used as a base. Tarragon is used in mustards and butter, and combines well with laurel, basil, dill, parsley and the like.
Tarragon is used in a production of a medicinal tea as it helps good and peaceful sleep, so make sure you drink it before going to bed. Mix one teaspoon of fresh tarragon leaves and a cup of hot water.
Use in medicine
Tarragon is great for relieving stomach and digestive problems. It also has a positive effect on the health of the cardiovascular system because its ingredients prevent the development of thrombosis and embolism.
Essential oils generally stimulate the natural digestive system, so tarragon is an excellent digestive aid. Also, tarragon essential oils possess exceptional antibacterial properties, so this plant also helps in the defense against two known and dangerous bacteria - Staphylococcus aureus and E. coli.
Tarragon is of great help to women because it helps even out an irregular menstrual cycle. It is traditionally used as a remedy for toothache and oral hygiene in general.
History and facts
Tarragon root resembles a dragon, thus the name "dragon plant". It was once believed that "dragon plant" protects from poison snakes so people used to wear it hidden under their clothing.
It originates from Siberia, and it is believed that the Mongols spread it around the world. It is believed that they used tarragon as the most important spice in their dishes, but also as a breath freshener.
Also, the ancient Greeks were the first to notice and record the positive effects of tarragon on tooth and gum disease.