The flavour of Russian Tarragon may not be so pronounced as its French counterpart but is it is a much more hardy plant that prefers poor soils and can cope with a bit of neglect. It produces lots of leaves, which can be used for a milder flavour. The plant divides easily and can be grown easily from seed.
This herb has a spicy characteristic with anise-like qualities; the leaves are used raw or cooked in fish, chicken and potato dishes. Seed is used raw or cooked. In French cooking, it is usually paired with chives and becomes a fine herbes mix. This highly prized herb is blended into Hollandaise, Tartar and Béarnaise Sauce.
Because fresh tarragon leaves are vastly superior to dried, it was little used in home kitchens until fairly recently. Now it's an essential and indispensable herb. A few leaves shredded into scrambled egg raise this simple dish to a new level.
Being native to prairies, and rocky, barren environments, Tarragon will make its home in the poorest area of your garden. It needs full sun and prefer dry, rocky or gravel or sandy soil. They are perfect for growing in containers near the kitchen door. Once started, these plants will grow well with little or no attention.
Sowing: Sow from February at temperatures around 5°C (40°F)
Start seedlings indoors before the last frost in your area. Transplant seedlings outdoors when the weather warms, spacing them 1 1/2 to 2 feet apart. Sow the seeds 12mm (½in) deep and make sure that the compost remains moist but not drenched. Germination 7 to10 days (can occasionally be irregular dependent on conditions) When the seedlings are large enough to handle, they can be planted out or potted on. Transplant the plants outdoors once established, after the last frost date. Space 20cm (8in) between each plant
Tarragon is one herb that tends to do better in the ground than in pots. When planting in the ground, choose a sunny well-drained location. Plants benefit from a good fertilising at the start of the growing season. Work some crab meal or aged chicken manure into your soil.
Regular using and cutting of plants early in the season develops a desirable compact growth habit. Tarragon’s roots will tightly intertwine and it can choke itself out if not divided every one to two years.
In the winter cut plants down to the ground to induce fresh growth.
Harvesting and Storing:
Sprigs can be harvested 7 to 10 weeks after planting and then throughout the summer. Wrap freshly-cut sprigs in damp kitchen towel and place in a plastic bag in which you've made some small holes. Store the bag in the fridge and the tarragon will stay fresh for 4 to 5 days.
Tarragon makes one of the most versatile of herb vinegars and is often used in mustards and butters. It adds a fresh, herbal fragrance to mushrooms, artichokes and ragouts of summer vegetables, with tomatoes it is almost as good as basil. Use tarragon in moderation and it will enhance the flavour of other herbs.
Tarragon stimulates the appetite and digestive process. An infusion or tea made of Tarragon ease flatulence and intestinal distension.
Leaves are rich in essential Iodine, Vitamins A and C as well as trace elements and beneficial mineral salts. In time gone by chewing the root of Tarragon was claimed to cure toothache.
Artemisia species provide a wonderful range of greens from baby's breath to nettle green.
Russian Tarragon is believed to have been brought to Europe from Mongolia and Siberia by invading Mongols in the 13th century. It was native to these remote Chinese and Russian areas where it was cooked and eaten as a vegetable.
Perhaps its remote birthplace contributes to its lack of popularity prior to this time, but by the 15th century, it was popular enough in England to make its way to American shores with the colonists.
Artemisia was a botanist and medical researcher and the genus artemisia was named after her. The genus includes over 400 plants, including the delectable herb tarragon.
Artemisia has a colourful and rather dubious history: Artemisia was the wife and sister (yes, that is correct) of the Greek/Persian King Mausolous from which we get the word mausoleum. The species name dracunculus means "little dragon" (diminutive of draco), from where the common name of Dragons Wort is also derived. .
In the Middle Ages, tarragon was known as tragonia and tarchon, generally believed to be Arabic loans. In Modern Arabic, the name is tarkhun, the origin of which is unclear, but may be a loan from Old Greek, perhaps akin to drakōn, meaning "dragon" or "snake".
The plant was linked to dragons because of the serpent-shaped rhizome and there was a wide-spread belief that tarragon could not only ward off serpents and dragons but could also heal snake bites. Home gardeners with tarragon plants will know that if not divided regularly, tarragon will actually strangle itself with its own root system.
The names of tarragon in modern languages of Europe and Western Asia are mostly derived from the old Arabic or Greek names, e.g. English tarragon, Finnish rakuna, Spanish tarragona and Hebrew taragon. In French, the name acquired an initial "e" (estragon), which then spread culinarily to many other languages, e.g. Scandinavian esdragon and Russian estragon.
- Additional Information
Packet Size 500mg Average Seed Count 3,000 Seeds Seed Form Natural Seeds per gram 6,000 seeds / gram Common Name Russian Tarragon, False tarragon Other Common Names Tragonia, Tarchon (old names) Other Language Names Dragon, Fr - Estragon Family Asteraceae Genus Artemisia Species dracunculoides Hardiness Hardy Perennial Height 40-50cm (16-24in) Spacing 20-30cm. (8-12in) Position Full sun pr partial shade Soil Well-drained soil Time to Harvest 7-10 weeks from sowing