Growing Horseradish

HorseradishA cinch to grow from zone 3 south, horseradish is known for its hot, mustard flavored roots. Mankind has been growing horseradish for centuries, Records indicate that the Egyptians cultivated this plant prior to 1500 B.C. It was also used by the Romans as an aphrodisiac. Although, what didn’t they use as an aphrodisiac?

Site Preparation:

Horseradish prefers rich, fast draining soil and full sun. However, the perennial will grow in almost all conditions, except deep shade or constant wetness. Prior to planting, choose a spot far removed from any other plants you care about. Horseradish spreads quickly and can soon take over your garden.

Tip: The best way to control horseradish’s rampant nature is to grow it in containers.

How to Plant:

Start by planting horseradish in the fall or very early spring. Set plants or root pieces 1-2 feet apart, with the crown – the top of the root and the start of the top growth – about 4 inches below the soil surface. Add a shovelful of compost to each hole and water thoroughly after planting. To encourage the roots to be large and hot, try a method I learned from pulling weeds. You know how sometimes you pull a weed and the top just breaks off in your hand? The weed grows right back, and you pull it again and the top breaks off again? Eventually you get tired of the darned thing breaking off in your hand and you get a shovel and dig it out. And you are amazed at how large the root is? Well, this is the technique you are going to use on horse radish.

Remove the top foliage part of the plant several times. But remember, this is going to make the horse radish really strong – the larger the root, the stronger the flavor!

Harvesting:

Dig roots in spring or fall, but for best flavor wait until after the first frosts. Brush off roots and store in the refrigerator. For longer storage, grate and keep in vinegar (1/4 cup for every cup of horseradish).

Insects and Diseases:

Horseradish has no major insect or disease problems.

Seed Saving Instructions:

Grown from root cuttings, horseradish does not produce seeds in most regions of the United States.

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