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Horseradish!

You Can Grow That!

Horseradish roots

After 17 months in my refrigerator, the horseradish roots my brother gave me looked pretty happy. Those are some seriously healthy-looking green leaves… despite that they’ve seen almost no light for more than a year.

How about a little horseradish with your steak? Once a year at Christmas, we have beef fondue with a collection of homemade steak sauces. At least two of those sauces include horseradish… horseradish from a jar. But that’s going to change.

In March of 2013, my brother gave me two horseradish roots dug from his garden. I was busy and so I left the roots wrapped in plastic in my refrigerator. I remained busy. Finally, on the last day of July of THIS year—fully 17 months after they went into the refrigerator—I took those horseradish roots out and planted them.

Horseradish character

I don’t have much experience with horseradish in the garden, but I recognize a character when I see one. Almost nothing survives more than a year in MY refrigerator. Granted, I’ve witnessed spontaneous generation in there, but not of anything I’d want to eat. Horseradish roots emerged unscathed from their long imprisonment.

Where to get horseradish

If your brother (or mine) isn’t going to give you horseradish roots, you might find some to plant in the produce section of a local grocery store. I’ve seen 12-inch pots of horseradish at garden centers selling for around $6.

From what I’ve read, you shouldn’t be shy about acquiring plants now, next week, next spring, or even mid-winter. If you can’t dig the soil to plant, you can probably keep a potted root going indoors. Or, cut off the leaves, dig the root, put it in an unsealed plastic bag, and keep it in your fridge until April.

I’d heard horseradish will spread in a garden, taking as much ground as you’ll allow. And, I’ve heard it’s very hard to dig up horseradish adequately to shut it down. Pushy plant.

So, I took precautions. Photos tell the story. You want fresh horseradish and plenty of extra to preserve for year-round steak sauce? You can grow that!

Containment ring for horseradish

I used an electric hack saw to cut the top and bottom thirds off a plastic 60 gallon food barrel. The middle third is an open-ended cylinder about 12 inches deep. Buried in the soil, it provides a root barrier for most plants. I hope it’s enough to control my horseradish.

Horseradish planting depth

After I set the two roots in soil, initial watering fully exposed the top of one of them. That naked root did nothing while the barely covered root put out new growth in just a few days. I covered over the exposed top and new growth came on almost immediately. From this I conclude: Plant roots so the tops are underground. (Please note this is not even vaguely scientific; it could be coincidence that the buried root grew when the other didn’t… )

Horseradish plants

From July 31 to September 10, this is what my horseradish did. I won’t harvest any this fall, and I’m going to let it alone in the spring. Had I planted it in April or May, I might try for a harvest, but two months hardly makes a full growing season. Christmas 2015? We’re having homegrown horseradish in our steak sauces.

 

4 Responses to “Horseradish!”

  • A friend of mine is an avid grower of horseradish as was my dad. They absolutely love making their own sauces with it. While I agree, home grown horseradish tastes far superior to anything from a store, it can have a bit too much bite for me.

  • Troy:

    Horseradish is traditionally harvested at the end of the second growing season. It will keep best and have the best flavor if you wait until the first hard frost and harvest it immediately after.rnrnGood luck!

  • Daniel Gasteiger:

    Mike: My brother tells me horseradish from his garden is very strong. I look forward to my first harvest so I can get some first-hand experience. Thanks for your comments!

  • Daniel Gasteiger:

    Troy: Thank you for the information. By next autumn I’ll be anxious to harvest some horseradish, but I’ll hold out until then. Anticipation is part of what makes gardening special, I guess.

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