If you want to diversify your garden with a vigorous and beneficial plant, look no further. Horseradish is your new best friend, and possibly your garden’s friend.
Horseradish is no stranger to us. Many will have seen it in neighborhood grocery stores. But many are unaware of its many health, kitchen and garden benefits. Growing horseradish is a perfect way to add flavor and spice to your garden and your life.
What is horseradish?
Before we explain why you should grow horseradish, we need to understand what it actually is. Is it a vegetable? Herb or spice?
To begin with, it is part of the family of Brassicaceae. It is a perennial plant that is usually grown for its roots, which give flavor to foods and sauces. The root is technically a vegetable, but is often classified as an herb due to its culinary uses.
Its leaves are also very useful, especially if you are looking for less spicy flavors.
There are two varieties of horseradish to choose from, the common and the bohemian. The difference is in the appearance of the leaves. Bohemian horseradish leaves are finer and smoother, while common horseradish has large, wrinkled leaves.
The Bohemian is said to be better in disease resistance and the Common in taste, but the two types are very similar.
Why should you grow horseradish in your garden.
- easy to grow. It grows well in full sun and thrives in most climates, but does best in areas with temperatures ranging from 7-24ºC. It can survive harsh winters, even in some of the coldest regions. He doesn’t need too much care and you’re unlikely to have any problems. You’re much more likely to run into problems if it pushes too well than if it doesn’t. If this little vegetable wasn’t so useful, it looks like a weed because of how quickly it spreads.
Despite its reputation as an “invader”, it is not difficult to contain. The best way to contain horseradish is to plant it in pots or raised beds. Once planted, harvesting can take as little as 4 months, but it is best to wait a season or two before harvesting. Its leaves also grow quickly and can be just as useful as the roots in the kitchen.
- A root for life. One of the best reasons to grow your horseradish is that you only need one root for a lifetime supply. Roots from a nursery or even a reputable supermarket will suffice. Because it grows so fast and produces so much, you won’t have to worry about running out of roots or leaves. It will continue to spread season after season without your intervention, leaving you with more horseradish than you need.
- Better than store bought. Like any home-grown vegetable or herb, horseradish from the garden tastes much better than store-bought. The fullness of its pungent flavors is released the moment you cut or grind the fresh roots or leaves. It’s also cheaper than store-bought, more nutritious and much better for the environment.
- diseases and pests. Horseradish is not only relatively easy to care for, but there are very few diseases and pests to worry about. Problems that may appear normally are usually easy to eradicate.
A headache-inducing pest familiar to many gardeners, aphids tend to feed on horseradish leaves. However, they are not too difficult to remove. Depending on the size of the infestation, you can easily remove them. If you have a water spray bottle filled with natural soap, you can also remove them from the leaves.
Being a root vegetable, horseradish is susceptible to rotting and fungal soil diseases. However, this is usually only a problem with improper watering, as consistently wet soil is usually the culprit. Make sure the soil around your horseradish is never waterlogged and you should have no problems.
- good for the garden. Horseradish is a good companion plant (when its spread is controlled), as its pungent aroma repels many pests. The natural oils from the roots also reduce instances of soil-borne fungal diseases. It generally pairs well with potatoes and various fruit trees, such as apple, pear and cherry trees.
For even more antifungal benefits, you can also chop horseradish root and mix it with water to form an antifungal spray. Use this spray to combat various diseases, such as brown rot.
Although good for part of your garden, be warned: the prickly roots can cause problems with some vegetables. Horseradish affects the flavor of vegetables grown near them, especially leafy vegetables and beans.
- Good for you. Horseradish also has various health benefits. This vegetable is packed with vitamins and nutrients, such as calcium and vitamin C. allyl isothiocyanate It has antibacterial and antifungal properties for plants and humans. It helps fight bacterial diseases and some believe it helps treat urinary tract infections.
These properties, along with the pungent smell of the roots, are known to alleviate cold and flu symptoms. It can even help reduce mucus buildup and improve overall circulation.
- Guard, guard, guard. You may end up with more horseradish than you need, but that shouldn’t be a problem. Horseradish keeps incredibly well. It can even be frozen.
Canned horseradish will keep for 4 months in the refrigerator. Frozen can be kept for 6 months. Unfortunately, it may lose some of its flavor, but it will still be no less pungent than the store-bought variety.
- An excellent seasoning for your home meals. Its versatility creates many options for meals and, being an unusual flavor, it is sure to surprise your guests. Add the zest to your sandwiches, mix it with creams, sauces and dressings. You can also pick some roots and make your own fake wasabi at home. Since true wasabi is difficult to grow and difficult to find, most wasabi found alongside sushi is made from horseradish. Mix fresh horseradish with mustard, color it with green food coloring and no one will be able to tell the difference.
How to grow horseradish.
Now that you’re convinced to plant this vegetable in your garden, let’s get down to business.
Planting horseradish is easy and won’t cause you much trouble.
It grows well both from planted whole roots and root cuttings, or from seed. Start planting your roots, seeds or cuttings in late fall or early spring. Space them about 60 cm apart; soon they will spread further. Plant them upright or at a 45 degree angle with a few inches of soil covering the root.
Although it prefers full sun, horseradish can tolerate some shade. Plant it away from other important vegetables in a remote location so that if it spreads, you can easily control it.
You can also plant it in a pot. Follow the advice above, but make sure the pot is deep enough to facilitate its long roots. Also make sure there are plenty of drainage holes. If there’s anything horseradish doesn’t tolerate, it’s wet soil.
Horseradish care is incredibly simple. You need two things: healthy soil and moderate amounts of water.
Whether in pots or in the ground, the soil must be well drained and enriched with organic matter. Spreading and growing prolifically, horseradish does not need regular fertilizer.
The most important is watering.. If left to dry out for a long time, the roots become woody. However, if overwatered, the roots will begin to rot. It is always best not to overwater. Once established, in most areas it will survive on rainwater alone. During drier seasons it may need an extra watering or two, but it is not a very water demanding plant.
You will be able to harvest its roots and leaves once the horseradish has established itself in your garden. When you’re ready, loosen the soil around the root, making sure to pick up any broken pieces. You can always replant them and continue growing horseradish.
Store the harvested root in bags in the fridge or freezer, or prepare and store it for later use.
Storage, preparation and conservation.
Scrub and dry the horseradish roots before bagging them and placing them in the refrigerator. Grate and use horseradish only when necessary to keep it as fresh as possible.
To make the horseradish sauce, peel and cut the roots into pieces and mash them. Put the sauce in a jar and store it in the refrigerator. As simple as growing it.
You can even preserve grated horseradish in lemon juice or vinegar, but be aware that vinegar interferes with the flavor.
Keep in mind that the preparation alters the chemical compounds of the roots, so the strong vapors can make you cry (more so than onions).
Cook with horseradish.
Now that you have your roots, seasoning, or preserve, you can start adding horseradish to your meals.
Horseradish is a great addition to sauces. Simply toss it with other base sauces like chives and you’re good to go. Add it to a little melted butter to give a spicy touch to the meat.
It is an excellent companion to mayonnaise. Salads also welcome a little horseradish. Grate a little and make sure you have lemon juice and sunflower oil on hand. Mix it with Dijon mustard, parsley and chopped shallots, and you have a wonderful vinaigrette. Also add some horseradish leaves for an extra touch.
This versatile vegetable is sure to bring out the creative chef in you.