Tarragon

bakemom_gw(z6 Central Ohio)March 24, 2013

After trying fresh tarragon in a lovely cream sauce, I would like to leave the dry stuff behind. I have 2 packs of Livingston Seeds. Should I winter sow them? Explain this plant. Perennial for you? Sun? Overwinter in pots? Is it more like parsely in terms of hardiness or tender like basil?

i would love to hear YOUR tarragon experience.

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not_a_contessa(z5b S Central PA mtns.)

Bakemom, I researched Tarragon when I decided to grow it. There are 2 types of Tarragon, French which is perennial and Russian which is an annual. Only the annual can be grown from seed. The perennial is propagated from cuttings. Because I wanted to have it longer than one year, I ordered 2 plants. They have done very well for me, coming back every year in my zone. I had tried growing it from seed in the past but I didn't have any luck at all.

I adore this plant, the flavor is wonderful, and I have had lots of success drying it for use in the winter. For me, the perennial has a stronger more desirable flavor and scent.

I dry the leaves in the microwave between 2 sheets of paper towels, checking every 15 seconds to see if they are ready.
Mary

    Bookmark   March 24, 2013 at 12:02PM
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terrene(5b MA)

I have not grown Tarragon, but I am curious about your drying technique Contessa. Does that work well on all herbs? Do you prefer it to hang drying?

    Bookmark   March 24, 2013 at 12:41PM
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morz8(Washington Coast Z8b)

Bakemom, just to expand on what Mary is telling you, the French tarragon is the one that is more flavorful and preferred for cooking. It should be hardy in your zone, you may want to mulch over winter, and be prepared to divide every three years or so much like you would a clump of daisey - or you could find center dieout.

And the French isn't usually grown from seed, very little seed is produced unlike the Russian tarragon (with a much less distinct taste) that self sows all over. I didn't move my tarragon - yet :) But I still have plenty of plants in general I'd like to dig before I list the former house and its garden. My problem with tarragon is our winter wet here, I think it would be happier/healthier a little more dry .

    Bookmark   March 25, 2013 at 12:16AM
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northerner_on(Z5A ONCanada)

I live in a very cold zone in Ontario.and I believe (from descriptions) that the tarragon I grow is Russian tarragon. It is a very hardy perennial for me, grows to about 4 or five feet, and seems to thrive on neglect. I grew it from a cutting from a friend. This fall, I did not get around to cutting it back and it is still adding winter interest in the garden. Still standing upright with light brown foliage. I use it in my seasonings for meat.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2013 at 3:49AM
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caryltoo Z7/SE PA

Bakemom, I adore tarragon, especially in a cream sauce. Nothing better with pork medallions and there's a really great brioche-encrusted fish recipe on epicurious that uses tarragon as one of the three herbs -- they just melt into the tilapia (or fish of your choice) and give it a wonderful flavor. The husband and I aren't big fish eaters, but we go to this recipe over and over.

I have a couple of plants that I grew from seed a few years ago (mainly for that recipe). They have come back so I assume they're the perennial variety, or else I've just got a very hardy annual. I'm out of seed so can't check the packet. Guess I'll know after this winter for sure.

Caryl

    Bookmark   March 25, 2013 at 6:25AM
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barbe_wa

A fairly accurate test of whether it's the true French tarragon or the less desirable Russian tarragon is to taste a leaf or two, biting to release the oil, then let it sit in your mouth a few seconds. French tarragon will numb your tongue a bit, but the Russian doesn't.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2013 at 1:10PM
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mnwsgal 4 MN(4)

French tarragon is hardy for me in Zone 4 and needs little care. A few years back I divided my plant and took it to our MN GW swap

    Bookmark   March 26, 2013 at 2:15PM
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bakemom_gw(z6 Central Ohio)

Lots of good info here. Thank you so much. i have the seeds sown winter sowing style and also plan on purchasing a French plant or two. This should be fun and tasty.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2013 at 9:45AM
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bakemom_gw(z6 Central Ohio)

Ok, i have wintersown three packs of seeds that claim the herb is a perennial. i also purchased some grocery store cuttings. Can i root these? i'm jonesing for the extensive herb selection to get to neighborhing nurseries.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2013 at 11:02PM
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caryltoo Z7/SE PA

What I have must be the Russian since that's all I see in the seed racks at the local stores and that's where I got mine. That said, it has been a perennial for the last couple of years. The tallest it's gotten so far is about a 18-24 inches.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2013 at 7:17AM
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