A. Horseradish is a rugged, cold-hardy perennial herb. It’s an evergreen that thrives in full sun but tolerates light shade and can take almost any type of soil except those consistently waterlogged. It’s available at garden centers during the winter months as plants or root divisions. You may also find it in the early spring in containers. Horseradish is not available from seed. Horseradish is an aggressive grower so you must select an out of the way location to keep it under control. The planting hole should be one foot wide and as deep as your shovel. The native soil is generously amendment with any of the blended soil conditioners or homemade compost. The roots can become twisted and malformed in heavy clay soil much like carrots. You’ll be harvesting its roots for its pungent flavor. Next, hold the root upright and backfill until all but the tip or crown is covered. A starter fertilizer is sprinkled over the top of the plant and you water. A two-inch layer of mulch is added after the rainy season concludes. One plant is usually plenty for a family. If you need more, space the plants thirty inches apart.
Your first harvest occurs the following spring, as soon as the new growth begins to forms. In our mild climate, this works better than harvesting in the late fall as is recommended in other climates. Besides, when harvesting in the spring you avoid the hassle of over wintering the root cuttings. The first year roots are the most pungent.
The most common issue gardeners face with horseradish is not how to grow it but how to keep it from growing where they don’t want it. Horseradish spreads vigorously once it’s established so again you should select an out of the way site. To control its spread, harvest all the roots, including its branches, then replant only the number of roots you desire as plants for next year. You would save the longest root(s) for replanting and use the rest for your homemade horseradish dishes. The best method of preventing horseradish from getting out of control is to grow it in a large container or in a bottomless, container placed into the garden soil. It’s also the recommended method in small gardens. This keeps the horseradish in check, allows for good drainage and makes harvesting the roots a snap. The dirt is washed and or scrubbed off the roots and they’re dried before being stored. Horseradish roots will keep in the vegetable bin of your refrigerator for three months or even longer if enclosed in a perforated plastic bag. And finally, whatever you do, don’t till the ground containing horseradish roots or place the roots in your compost pile. You run the risk of spreading the plant all over your garden.
Buzz Bertolero is Executive Vice President of Navlet’s Garden Centers and a California Certified Nursery Professional. His web address is www.dirtgardener.com and you can send questions by email at email@example.com or to 360 Civic Drive Ste. ‘D’, Pleasant Hill, Calif. 94523 and on Facebook at Facebook.com/Buzz.Bertolero