Growing Horseradish

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Growing Horseradish takes very little effort or time. Horseradish is essentially a weed, and like most weeds, is nearly impossible to kill. Once you get it started, you have to be vigilant, or it can take over, and over run less aggressive plants (like creeping kudzu). OK, maybe it's not quite THAT aggressive, but it will get out of hand if you don't keep an eye on it.

If you have ever tasted home made horseradish sauce or cocktail sauce made with home grown horseradish roots, you'll understand the benefits of growing it yourself. Horseradish is a love it or hate it proposition. I've never come across a person who said it was just "OK". It seems like everyone who has tried it has a strong opinion about it one way or the other. Personally I love the stuff.

Follow this link to learn how to make your own horseradish sauce

Finding Horseradish Plants

Horseradish Roots

Horseradish plant has long narrow leaves that grow from the crown of a central tap root similar to the way a dandelion grows. These roots grow in groups or clumps. The leaves are rough to the touch, and dark green. Roots look like big white gnarled carrots.

Most garden seed catalogs sell horseradish starts.  You can also find it at most of the big box stores in the spring when all of the gardening stuff is on display.  If you know someone who grows horseradish, chances are they will be more than willing to give you some starts if you ask.  when they dig their roots to make horseradish sauce, the tops with a little root still attached can be replanted to grow more plants

Horseradish root tops can be replanted to grow more plants

Growing Horseradish - Planting

Horseradish Plant

Horseradish can be planted anytime the the ground isn't frozen, and it will survive & grow. It does best however when planted in the spring after the last chance for frost has past.

Horseradish grows best in well tilled soil with organic matter worked in, but will grow almost anywhere as long as the location doesn't stay wet (swampy) year round, and isn't under heavy shade. For the straightest, biggest roots, remove any rocks or other obstructions from the soil.

Plant the roots with the crown just below soil level, or started plants at the same level or a bit (maybe an inch) deeper.

If you dig roots to make your own horseradish sauce, save the tops that you cut off, and re-plant them. Nearly all of them will grow new plants. That being said, one good sized clump is probably more than enough to supply the average sized family.

If you plant in the spring, it's very likely that you can harvest roots the following winter.

Once planted, horseradish requires very little care. I read a comment by someone that horseradish "thrives on neglect" - how true! I put some mulch around my plants to keep weeds down, but even that isn't entirely necessary.

Growing Horseradish - Harvesting

You can dig horseradish roots anytime during the year, but the flavor is at it's strongest in the late fall and winter. Use a spade or potato fork to dig the roots. I try not to dig up more than half of the clump at one time, to leave enough left to re-establish for the following harvest.

If you like horseradish sauce, try growing your own plants. Growing horseradish is so easy, practically anyone can do it. They are tough low maintenance plants and the rewards are well worth it. Home made horseradish sauce is great for home consumption and makes a great gift for those who like it. It has been said that people who regularly eat horseradish, rarely if ever get colds or the flu. I'm not sure if that it true, but in my opinion, it's worth a try, and it certainly won't do any harm.

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Related Links:

Making Horseradish Sauce

Other Perennial Vegetables:

Growing Rhubarb

Growing Asparagus

Culinary Herbs