Horseradish, or Armoracia Rusticana on its scientific name, is a leafy green grown for its root rather than its leaves. With a characteristic, pungent aroma, this plant can add a distinctive flavor to many dishes. But how to grow horseradish in your garden?
Fortunately, this plant isn’t picky and it adapts well to many environments. All you need is a good root cutting or horseradish seeds, fertile soil where to plant it, water and some sunshine. As soon as it’s grown, horseradish will be yours forever, delighting your taste buds with its delicious flavor.
Types of Horseradish
Most commercially grown horseradish has Czech origins. The plant is characterized by narrow leaves, which are less than 10 inches wide and a pungent flavor. Older strains of horseradish have larger leaves and are rarely found in nurseries. However, the flavor is more or less the same, and both types adapt well to most environments.
How To Plant Horseradish
Horseradish is usually started from root cuttings, but seeds are also available commercially.
If you’re starting the plant from root cuttings, plating is straightforward and all you have to do is dig a hole and bury the root with the flat end facing up. Plant it at a depth of about 2 inches and water abundantly.
The best time to plant horseradish is at the beginning of spring, a couple of weeks before the last frost.
When it comes to soil requirements, horseradish adapts to a variety of soils but it thrives in fertile, well-drained, pH-neutral soil. The plant prefers clay soils, like those found near rivers; if the soil isn’t humid enough, water regularly.
If starting from seeds, it’s essential to propagate the seeds indoors or in a greenhouse and only transplant horseradish in the garden when the plant developed the fourth set of leaves.
How To Grow Horseradish
Once established in the ground, horseradish is easy to grow and doesn’t require much maintenance or care. The plant needs a full season to develop healthy roots and you might have to wait until next fall to harvest your crops.
Horseradish leaves are not comestible and shouldn’t be fed to people or livestock. However, you can use them for compost. Leave the plant to hibernate in the garden over winter, then start watering it again in spring.
Overwintered horseradish should develop spikes of white flowers in late spring, and you should be able to start harvesting your first horseradish in late fall after the first frosts have damaged the plant leaves.
Due to its weedy nature, horseradish requires only water and organic fertilizer to thrive. However, mulch can help keep weeds away.
How To Harvest Horseradish
After the first fall frosts have damaged the plant’s leaves, you can start harvesting your crops. Like everything else with this plant, the process is simple.
Just use a garden fork to dig the soil around the plant. Gather any broken roots for consumption, and plant a few pieces of root for the next year crop. The harvest can continue throughout the season as long as the soil is not frozen, or early in spring.
How To Propagate Horseradish
Hard to eradicate once established, horseradish propagates itself seamlessly. Roots usually grow several feet from the mother plant and sprout new plants from new root buds. Yet, if you’re concerned about the yield, just plant small pieces of root in the soil after harvest.
We recommend growing horseradish in an enclosed space in the garden or in a container, because the plant is almost impossible to eradicate once widespread.
How To Store And Prepare Horseradish
Horseradish can be stored in a cool and dark place for up to 4 weeks, or chopped and frozen. An alternative is to grate the root and preserve it in vinegar. In this way, horseradish preserves its flavor for several months.
And now that you know how to grow horseradish, go buy some roots and start your crop.