Horseradish is not a difficult herb to grow but it can get out of hand. This perennial herb likes a lot of room in the garden space and cannot be planted in an area that is going to be tilled. It can be planted during the spring, summer and/or fall and requires a bright sunny location to grow its best. This herb will tolerate partial shade but will grow slower in these locations.
Before planting the horseradish, conduct a soil test. This plant likes a soil pH of 5.5 to 7.0. Depending on the results of the test, some soil remediation may need to occur prior to planting the herb.
Once the soil is prepared, it is time to get the horseradish. Plants and roots can be planted with ease. Regardless of what type of horseradish you choose to start with, the gardener must consider the amount of space that is needed. Horseradish grows to a mature size of 24-inches tall and 18-inches wide so plan accordingly.
Planting Horseradish Plants
Horseradish plants require a hole twice as deeps as the roots. Once the hole is dug, create a hill of compost in the center of the hole where the roots will set upon. Place the plant on this hill and check the depth of the plant. The plant should not be planted any deeper than it was in the container. If the soil depth is correct, continue to fill in until the hole is full. Water the plant in and add any addition soil if needed.
Starts for horseradish can be purchased at the local grocery store in the spring or through mail order. Regardless of where the root is purchased, it is always better to plant as soon as possible. If that cannot be done, then wrap the root loosely in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator until ready to plant.
When ready to plant, dig a hole that is 1-foot by 1-foot. Loosen the soil at the bottom of the hole with a rake and lay the root in the hole at a 45-degree angle. Fill in the hole with good, quality compost making sure the top of the root is just below the soil surface. Place several inches of compost on top to balance out the soil level as the soil settles.
Planting in a Drainage Pipe
Another choice when it comes to planting horseradish is to plant it in a drainage pipe or clay flue pipe. Cut the pipe to desired length and place partly in the ground. Plant the herb as described above. The advantages of this type of planting are it keeps the root straight and prevents this herb from taking over the garden.
Normally, horseradish does not require fertilizing. If the gardener feels it needs to be fertilized, apply a low nitrogen fertilizer two to three times a year.
The process is pretty simple. Dig or pull up the horseradish after a killing frost and the vegetation has begun to die. Once this is done examine the roots and remove small 6- to 8-inch long pieces that are about the diameter of a pencil. These will be the starts for next year. The remaining roots will need to be washed and scrubbed with a vegetable brush. Then they will need to be peeled with a sharp knife or vegetable peeler.
After the roots have been cleaned and peeled, finely grate the horseradish on a hand grater. Once all roots have been processed, measure the grated root by tablespoons into sterilized jars. For every 3-tablespooons add 1-tablespoon white wine vinegar, 1-teaspoon of sugar, and a pinch of salt. Seal the jars and store in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.
This fresh horseradish can be added to sour cream, mayonnaise, or yogurt to create a sandwich topping. It can also be added to ketchup for a spicy dipping sauce for oyster or shrimp dishes and for a very unusual dish try mixing it with lime Jell-O, pineapple, cucumber, and horseradish.
Regardless of how you choice to use your horseradish, it will be well worth the effort and the time.