Planting horseradish in your own garden


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Horseradish is hardy and easy to grow in your own garden. Nevertheless, the sharp root crop has some special features in cultivation. Find out all about planting horseradish at home.

Horseradish plant
In this country, the hardy horseradish has been cultivated specifically since the Middle Ages [Photo: Nataly Studio/]

Horseradish (Armoracia rusticana) belongs to the cruciferous family (Brassicaceae). The thick taproot brings the characteristic spiciness to the kitchen. However, if the horseradish root is fried or boiled, it loses its taste and smell. The origin of horseradish is probably in southern and eastern Europe. But even in this country, the pungent root has been cultivated specifically since the Middle Ages. Winter temperatures cannot harm the horseradish – the cruciferous plant can tolerate temperatures as low as -50 °C. However, propagation of horseradish is a bigger problem, because very few seeds are formed. We show you how you can still successfully grow the root crop in your garden.

Growing horseradish: step by step

  • Location: The growing location of horseradish should be as bright as possible. The cruciferous plant tolerates a sunny location without problems. In order for the taproot to develop to the fullest extent, both in diameter and length, cultivation on a loose, permeable soil is ideal. Loamy sandy soils or loess soils are suitable. On the other hand, soils that are too salty are not suitable for growing horseradish, as it is very sensitive to high salt levels. Unfortunately, due to the size that the root of horseradish reaches, the plant is not suitable for growing in pots.
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  • Propagation: Horseradish forms virtually no seeds. Sowing is therefore not a suitable method of propagation of horseradish. Alternatively, the sharp root is propagated by lateral roots. The side shoots of the taproot are cut off in the autumn and stored. Then, from the end of March, the sets can be planted in the ground. Alternatively, root side shoots can be pre-started in warm weather to give them a head start on growth. When planting in the bed, be sure to place the roots in the soil at an angle and in the direction of growth. If the sets are too horizontal, no growth in thickness growth will be achieved; if they are too vertical in the soil, the above ground part of the plant will grow almost exclusively. The top 3 cm of the set should not be covered with soil. Since horseradish can spread quickly, and new plants can grow even from the smallest parts of the roots, you should think carefully about where horseradish will find its place in the garden. If necessary, it may also be useful to specifically limit its growth with a rhizome barrier.
  • Watering and fertilising: Horseradish should be watered regularly, especially in the main growing season. Even when cultivated in the bed, it may require watering several times a week. However, uniform and constant moisture is necessary for the formation and growth of the taproot. If some manure or compost is worked into the planting bed in the autumn, this will be sufficient to provide horseradish with adequate nutrients. Alternatively, some primarily organic slow-release fertiliser such as our Plantura Tomato Food can be added to the planting hole at planting.
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  • Care: The formation of the lateral roots take much of the strength of the horseradish plant. To put all the energy into growing the thickened taproot, you can lift the plant a bit with a digging fork in June and remove the unwanted lateral roots. However, this also creates potential entry points for undesirable diseases.
  • Harvesting: In addition to the coveted taproot of horseradish, the young, fresh shoots can also be tasty. These are partially cut off in the spring and when briefly sautéed are a little vegetable delicacy. The sharp roots are harvested only from autumn on. As soon as the leaves begin to wilt and dry up, taproot growth also stops and harvesting can begin. This is generally from the end of October onwards. However, horseradish can still be pulled from the ground for fresh harvest use later in the winter thanks to its distinct winter hardiness. If the size of the root is not right, you can leave the plant for a second year and harvest only the next autumn, but with a larger taproot.
Horseradish grated
As soon as the leaves start to wilt in autumn, harvesting can begin [Photo: Sokor Space/]
  • Storage: Of course, a clear advantage of the horseradish is that not everything has to be harvested at once. Freshly harvested horseradish can be used in the kitchen again and again until budbreak next spring. After that, you can extend the usability by storing it in a cool place. At optimal temperatures between -5 and -2 °C, the taproot of the horseradish can be preserved very well for several months. However, with increasing storage time, more and more of the characteristic pungency is lost and the root loses its firm consistency. Unfortunately, the horseradish root is not suitable for drying – after that the sharpness is almost completely lost.
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