Thursday, April 9, 2009


Some crops are ready earlier than others. Horseradish is the first thing my garden yields each spring. I dig dormant roots from the garden and join some fellows who have a spring ritual of grinding up the roots in a food processor with a bit of vinegar and salt. That’s it. You’ve got a very unique condiment. (oh, peel the roots first). Excellent on ham or beef. A friend says she puts it in egg salad. A staple at a Seder. You can take it neat for a cheap thrill.

We processed this year’s crop last week. The 2009 vintage seems to be a bit milder than 2008, but with fruity hints of plum and licorice. I’m kidding…but it does seem a bit milder this year. Maybe that’s because we had to resort to using some store bought roots.

Horseradish may be the least demanding of the vegetable crops. It will grow almost anywhere. I’ve got mine in a soggy back end of the garden. A place where nothing but weeds will grow because it is so wet. Since all we want are roots, even some shade is not a problem. I guess the only potential problem is that since it is perennial it may become weedy. It has creeping underground roots.

If you can’t find a friend to give you a few pencil diameter roots about 6 inches long, you can mail order them from the same places that sell rhubarb and strawberries. Make a planting trench about five inches deep and lay the roots in with the top near the surface, spacing individual roots a least a foot apart. Cover the trench. I have even established new plants from just the crowns of roots that were harvested. As I mentioned, horseradish is a weed. In a year you’ll have roots to harvest. The better they grow, the thicker the root. Warning: The plants are big, coarse and ugly.
There are a few subtle details to horseradish making. Not much more on the growing. I found more advice than I could use on-line.
Next up, rhubarb!

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