Do you love the taste of horseradish? In fact some people swear that a few sniffs of this potent root cures colds! I can believe it since freshly grated horseradish will make your bawl like a baby. If you love the taste like my family, consider growing it. Read on to learn how.
Horseradish facts first.
I couldn’t resist to give you some history about this plant. Horseradish is a root with amazingly beautiful large leaves. According to Horseradish.org, this root plant is at least 3000 years old. (Yes, it has its own internet website.)
The Egyptians knew about horseradish as far back as 1500 B.C. Early Greeks used it as a rub for low back pain and an aphrodisiac. Jews still use it during Passover seders as one of the bitter herbs. Some used horseradish syrup as an expectorant cough medicine; others were convinced it cured everything from rheumatism to tuberculosis. Legend has it the Delphic oracle told Apollo, ‘“The radish is worth its weight in lead, the beet its weight in silver, the horseradish its weight in gold.”
Personally, I think it has been around for 3000 years because no one can totally eradicate the root when harvesting it. It just comes back every year.
*A little Advice*
Since horseradish is so much a part of my Jewish culture, I decided to grow the plant. Who wouldn’t want to make homemade horseradish? This tough plant can grow up to zone 3 and need winter dormancy so it isn’t suited for semi-tropical or tropical regions.
Before you jump in with both feet, here is some advice. As I stated above, it is really hard to get rid of this plant. You NEVER get the entire root and it simply regenerates itself the next year into more plants. Literally, horseradish is the gift that keeps on giving.
So, now that I forewarned you, here are some guidelines about growing horseradish:
1. Plant it where you can easily dig it up. The root can easily be 6 inches long.
2. Don’t plant it where you don’t want it to encroach on other plants. As I mentioned above, it can take over. The leaves are about 2 feet tall and bushy.
3. It can take a little shade. Mine is planted where I plant Kale.
4. The same bugs (including slugs) that like your kale, like horseradish.
5. Be sure to harvest the leaves. They are delicious. Why do you think the pests love them? Use my broccoli leave recipe to cook the horseradish leaves.
Now you know all my warnings, here is how you plant horseradish.
How to plant Horseradish
Truth be told, I planted a horseradish plant. However, it is pretty easy to plant just the root.
Mother Earth News explains:
“Set out dormant roots in early spring, planting them 3 inches deep and 12 inches apart; the thick, nubby end is the section most eager to sprout. Fertile soil in full sun is the best location, but horseradish usually manages to adapt to less-than-ideal growing sites.”
Organic Gardening states you can plant a section of the root in the Fall or the Spring. You should wait an entire year to harvest the plants.
“Cut off the top third to half of the root to use in the kitchen, saving the bottom part to plant. Loosen the soil to 12 inches deep and add a shovelful of compost. Plant the root cutting at a 45-degree angle, with the top of the cutting 2 inches below the soil line.”
“ For smoother, straighter, fatter roots, the University of Illinois recommends removing the suckers–leaf-bearing sprouts that form above ground. When the plants are about 8 inches tall, use a sharp knife to cut off the suckers, leaving only three or four at the center of the crown.”
Honestly, this tip is not just for newbies. My horseradish roots have become skinnier and skinnier each year. Next year, I will be removing the suckers. (Don’t forget to eat those sprouts!)
Mother Earth News explains you should harvest the plant when the leaves die back but my leaves have never died back. I dig up the roots in October after the first frost. Be prepared to dig.
So how do you use fresh horseradish, check back tomorrow on the site.
Join the Conversation:
- Do you grow your own horseradish?
- Are you considering growing your own horseradish?