How to Grow Horseradish – 3 Expert Tips
Often compared to wasabi but with more zest, horseradish is one of the easiest veggies to grow at home because it’s forgiving of irregular watering and partial shade. Planted in the spring, most horseradish roots are ready for harvest by the fall. The plant itself has large, glossy foliage, but the real prize is the pungent yellow roots below the ground, which are used to spice up culinary creations.
We’ve combed the web for the best tips on how to ensure that your horseradish plant produces the largest and most flavorful roots this season. Let’s check out how to go about giving your horseradish the best start in life.
The 3 Tips to Grow Horseradish
1. Plan the Planting Conditions
You’ll need the right soil and area to start with. Horseradish can do well in partial or even full shade, but we don’t recommend it if you want the best possible roots. Shady plants grow less flavorful and more bitter roots, so save yourself the hassle and just pick a sunny spot. If you have limited garden space, you may opt to grow horseradish in deep pots or buried containers to limit their spread.
Horseradish prefers moist, loamy soil with high organic matter content and a pH of 6.0 to 7.5. This gives you quite a bit of leeway in soil pH, and it’s not necessary to acidify neutral soils just for horseradish. The soil must also have ample drainage to wick away water because horseradish likes moist but not saturated soil. Overly watered horseradish roots will appear to wilt and turn white, so watch for that.
Plant horseradish about two feet away from other crops to leave its roots some room to develop and spread. Horseradish can make a great companion for strawberries, potatoes, and fruit trees because they deter pests with its pungent scent. Lastly, till the soil several inches down to remove rocks and woody roots that could pose an obstacle to your horseradish’s roots.
Finally, don’t plan on having fresh horseradish in the first year. They take about 140 to 160 days to mature, so we suggest using the first season as a trial run for the first productive season in the following year.
2. Water, Sunlight, Temperature, & Humidity
Water is critical for any plant but has unique effects on horseradish. Overwatered horseradish roots will bloat, turn white, and have a very pungent taste. Underwatered roots, by contrast, shrivel, turn woody, and are nearly unpalatable. In most climates, you should only have to water horseradish plants once a week. Check every few days to make sure the soil is still damp, and only water once the topsoil is completely dry to the touch. Don’t, however, wait until the soil starts to crack.
Finally, we need to touch on temperature and humidity. Horseradish is a cool-weather crop that withstands temperatures from 45 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit, but they prefer it around 60 degrees. Unlike other veggies, horseradish isn’t picky about humidity and can do well in arid or tropical climates.
3. Harvest Timing & Technique
Most people harvest horseradish after the plants go dormant for the year but before the ground freezes, so around late October or early November. Nearly everyone agrees that horseradish is borderline inedible if harvested during the summer, so waiting is the right move here.
Once it’s time, don some gloves to avoid skin irritation. Horseradish is technically toxic, so be careful. Dig around the base of your plant and simply pull the roots out, being sure to leave some so the plant can continue. Wash these roots, allow them to air dry, and use fresh or dry to cook later.
Horseradish is a versatile and spicy veggie, but many people don’t realize how easy it is to grow. As long as you provide it with full sun, don’t overwater it, and protect your skin when handling it, you’ll never need to buy store-bought horseradish again.
Featured Image Credit: mayer kleinostheim, Shutterstock