Tarragon: An Herb Gardener’s Loyal Friend
- May 05, 2016
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A loyal friend is one who never leaves your side, through thick or thin. This is how I often see the tarragon. I’ve had this herb plant early on since I started to pursue my passion for urban gardening some years ago. I have actually neglected it a couple of times, as I got more preoccupied with new plant species. Still, the tarragon continues to grow beautifully year on year, showing not a single sign of distress, despite our unpredictable weather in Metro Manila.
Tarragon is one of those perennial herbs that are easy to grow, and thrive well in our tropical climate. It is an aromatic herb that is widely used for culinary and medicinal purposes. I use tarragon largely as a relaxing tea, dropping a few fresh leaves in a cup of boiling water. There are many varieties of tarragon, but the one that grows well in the tropical region is the French Tarragon.
The herb is a perfect candidate for container gardening. When grown in containers, it can grow to about 2 feet tall. Here in the tropics, the tarragon is normally propagated from cuttings, because it seldom produces flowers.
Plant Growth and Maintenance
The herb adapts well with either full or partial sun. It can be planted as a companion with other herbs since it is not an invasive plant, not like the mints. Good soil quality is important. This means rich, loose and well-draining soil. Condition the soil with additional organic matter once a month. Like most herbs, insects are not drawn to the tarragon because of its strong aroma. Occasionally, winged insects like locusts love to munch on a few leaves, but this is generally not be a major problem because the herb can easily recover from any pest attack.
Keeping the soil moist (not soggy) at all times, especially during summer, is necessary. This herb can tolerate a mild drought, but will easily wither if the soil is allowed to dry out completely.
To encourage growth of new healthy leaves, prune excess branches every two months. To prune, cut the stems up to about 3-4 nodes from the base of the stem.
Uses of Tarragon
Tarragon can be chopped and added as topping for baked potato, eggs, poultry, seafood and sauces to enhance their flavor and aroma. Because of its delicate leaves, it can not be overcooked. It has also been used for medicinal purposes, such as pain relief, sleep inducement, increasing appetite, and improving reproductive and cardiovascular health. To make tea, drop around 3-5 pre-washed leaves in a cup of boiling water.