How to Grow Horseradish

Green horseradish leaves in a gardenHorseradish is a broad-leaf plant that will grow like a weed unless you keep it contained. Image: Nick Saltmarsh/Flickr

Horseradish is a snap to grow, but a pain to corral. Here’s how to grow and contain the bitter herb.

Horseradish packs a punch on the table — mixed with a little vinegar, the root vegetable will clear your sinuses — and in your garden: The 3-foot, broad-leaf plant grows like a weed, dwarfing anything that has the bad luck to grow next to it. 

In a year, you’ve got horseradish for the whole neighborhood. 

But with a little care and a sharp spade, you can keep the plant somewhat contained. Here are some tips on growing and preparing horseradish.

1. Horseradish can grow just about anywhere, but it likes at least partial sun and soil rich with organic nutrients. Make sure the spot drains well, because root vegetables don’t like to sit in water.

2. Buy horseradish roots at your local garden center ready for planting, or you can buy the root at the market, and plant the bottom third.

3. Plant in spring or fall in loose soil about two inches below the soil line. If you plant in spring (after the last frost), harvest in late fall or winter when the flavor is strongest.

4. A little horseradish goes a long way, so don’t plant acres of the stuff. One root will spread and should take care of your family’s horseradish needs.

5. To prevent horseradish spread, plant it in a big pot.

6. Dig the plant
with a spade or pitchfork, being careful to loosen small side roots but not sever the main root.

7. To guarantee an eternal crop, harvest only half the crop at a time.

8. Grate horseradish in a food processor or blender, rather than by hand, which will cut down on irritating fumes. Make sure the room is well-ventilated when you open the top of the blender.

9. Always wash your hands after handling horseradish to avoid skin and eye irritation.

10. Keep grated horseradish in a tightly sealed jar in the fridge for up to about two months; in the freezer for about six months.

11. Store the horseradish root in a plastic bag
in a cool place. After you use the root, plant the tops.

Have you ever grown horseradish? How did you tame it?