I’ve only been growing horseradish for a couple of years. The first year I grew it in the ground. That was last year. I thought I harvested all of it but despite this I have spent much of this year weeding out horseradish shoots. The problem with horseradish is that any bit of root left in the ground has the propensity to sprout, so when you dig it up to harvest it you are leaving lots of bits of broken bits of root in the ground, all of which can and will become plants if you let them. Because they are roots they also spread quite widely, I had horseradish come up in the lawn, through the beds and some was quite a distant from the original plant. The other difficulty in dealing with them is that poisoning them is fairly pointless as you only get that little piece of root and you have potentially hundreds more bits in the ground. I found pulling off the leaves the easiest way of dealing with them, and as the season went on less and less appeared. I will be interested to see if more come up this Spring.
Because of the invasive nature of the plant, I now, much more sensibly, grow horseradish in a pot. This year I grew it in a 35cm diameter pot. In retrospect I think it would have enjoyed a slightly larger pot as although the end product was fine the roots did escape the pot quite a bit.
For those of you unfamiliar with the plant this is what it looks like:
This was taken in Spring, by Autumn the plant was much larger. At the end of Autumn the leaves die down and it is ready to be harvested and washed:
Before trimming off the smaller and hair like roots until you are left with roots of a workable size:
This is about 300 grams of horseradish which is enough for me to enjoy some freshly grated; it makes a lovely dressing/sauce when combined with yoghurt (preferably Greek), lemon juice and a bit of garlic, and also to make a jar of preserved horseradish.
I put a few bits of root back into a pot (this time a 40cm diameter pot), for next years crop and there is very little I will do to it between now and harvesting next Autumn aside from ensuring it has sufficient water. And that is horseradishes great attraction – because it is so vigorous it is virtually trouble free – although the slugs do seem to like the leaves.
Oh and while I’m on the subject of horseradish Dave from Dave’s Square foot garden provided this excellent piece of trivia in his comment after my Monday Harvest post:
“Decades ago horseradish was such a valuable crop (due to the large US German population) that there was a commodity market for it. Horseradish was bought and sold by the ton on the St. Louis Commodity Exchange which set the price of horseradish for the US.”
Isn’t that fascinating? I still have to set a price for it on my spreadsheet perhaps I should write to the St Louis Commodity Exchange and see what they think.