Horseradish is a vegetable (sometimes classified as an herb) that is not typically grown in most home vegetable gardens, but is very versatile.
It can be added to dips, sauces, dressings, mayonnaise, and used to flavor meats. It is used very often to enhance the flavor of beef and seafood.
There is one advantage to growing horseradish that can also be a big disadvantage – it grows almost too easy. If not kept in check horseradish can be very invasive, sometimes overtaking a garden bed very quickly.
If you want to know how to grow horseradish here’s how to plant and care for it, plus some information on harvesting it in your vegetable garden.
How to Plant & Care for Horseradish
Horseradish can really thrive in cool climates, but isn’t too fussy about where it is grown. It can almost grow on its own without much attention from the gardener. It is grown from root cuttings rather than from seeds.
Choose a location that receives at least eight hours of sunlight, and prepare the soil to a depth of one foot or more.
The root needs plenty of deeply loosened soil in order to spread and grow. In the spring amend the soil deeply with well-aged manure or compost.
A raised bed or isolated area is best for growing horseradish because of its invasive nature. A deep container can also be used to keep it from spreading.
Plant root cuttings three inches deep and about twelve inches apart. Keep the soil consistently moist with waterings each day depending on rainfall amounts. Avoid overwatering as this can cause the root cutting to rot.
If the roots seem small or underdeveloped add a fertilizer that is high in potassium. Work the fertilizer into the soil as deep as possible.
To help encourage large taproots remove the top layer of soil around the horseradish and trim off any lateral roots (the roots that appear to be growing sideways) off the main root. Replace the soil back around the root once you are finished.
These lateral roots can be replanted for additional horseradish plants.
How to Harvest Horseradish
Root cuttings that are planted in spring can be harvested after 180 to 240 days. They will have the best flavor if left in the ground until after a few frosts have sweetened them.
Loosen the soil with a garden fork and remove the roots by hand. Trim off the tops and brush soil off with a scrub brush.
Keep the roots and small shoots that are six to twelve inches in length and replant the smaller ones for an additional crop. The plants can also be left in the ground over winter if covered with a heavy layer of mulch for protection.
Unwashed horseradish roots can be stored in plastic bags placed in the refrigerator, or in a root cellar the same as carrots. The roots will remain fresh for about three months.
Pests & Diseases of Horseradish
There are no known pests or diseases that affect horseradish when grown in the home vegetable garden. In fact, horseradish can be a good pests deterrent in some cases. If planted with potatoes it can help deter the Colorado Potato Beetle, and helps to boost the disease resistance of potatoes.
How to Use Horseradish
There are many ways to prepare horseradish. The root is primarily ground or grated. Wash the root thoroughly and peel off the outer skin.
The white meat of the horseradish root is then grated or ground up. It can also be chopped up and placed in a food processor for fine grating for serving fresh.
Be mindful when working with horseradish as it has a very strong odor.
The horseradish can also be mixed with vinegar and stored in the refrigerator for up to six months.