Tag Archive for horseradish

Horseradish–You Can Grow That!

Horseradish is an easy to grow perennial root crop in my zone 6 gardens of south-central Connecticut – a plant-it-and-forget-it crop until autumn, when horseradish harvest time rolls around. It’s a You Can Grow That! plant … so easy to grow that I’m often surprized more gardeners don’t dedicate a sunny bed to it.

ycgt_blog_post_graphicYou Can Grow That! is a blog meme started by C.L. Fornari at Whole Life Gardening. On the 4th of each month garden bloggers champion the virtues of gardening.  All of this month’s, as well as previous posts, can be found at the You Can Grow That! website.

The key to growing horseradish is dedicating it to a sunny bed where the main roots can extend deeply into the soil and side roots can spread to eventually grow into new plants. I don’t advise planting OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA horseradish in an ornamental bed. Horseradish leaves grow two to three feet tall and are not necessarily showy over the entire growing season. They emerge a lovely green and quickly grow to near mature height. But the leaves are often munched by caterpillars and tend to brown during the heat of summer.

In my region, deer browse the leaves in late summer leaving unsightly bare stalks standing until harvest time. Because of this I advise planting horseradish in an inconspicuous spot. Don’t expect it to be an attractive eye-catcher. In my dedicated-to-edibles gardens, horseradish has it’s own bed. Because horseradish plants have not completely filled the bed, I fill bare spots with onions since these bulb crops don’t compete with deeper horseradish roots and easily survive among horseradish leaves. Also, my horseradish bed is unfenced and available to browsing deer which leave the onions alone and don’t browse horseradish leaves until late summer.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA But each autumn, even after deer browse the horseradish leaves to stalks, I harvest and process enough horseradish to meet my family’s needs.  Harvest time comes after a couple of good hard frosts, which help sweeten horseradish roots, but before the ground freezes. Harvest using a digging fork that allows deep penetration into the surrounding soil but does not cut the roots. Loosen the soil around the large tap root, then pull the root out of the ground. The root will likely snap off, but that’s okay. Pieces left in the soil will become future horseradish plants. Once all good size roots are dug, level off the bed and replace any mulch (I use straw or salt hay). Remove any remaining leaves from the dug roots, and as much loose soil as possible, then place roots in a cardboard box, in an area protected from weather, to cure for a few days. Before processing, you want to give the exterior of the roots time to dry, but don’t let them dry out too much so that interior moisture is lost.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA On processing day, brush as much remaining soil off as possible and soak the roots in water. Then gather your tools. Gloved hands are a must when processing horseradish. An open window is also helpful since the pungent odor of fresh cut roots will make your eyes water. A potato brush is handy for removing clinging soil.  Rely on a  sturdy vegetable peeler and a small knife to peel the brown outer-coating from the roots. I like to do this in the sink to contain the peelings.

Cut the peeled white roots into 1/4 to 1/2 inch chunks, then place in a food processor bowl – with the cutting blade – with some water and white vinegar. Don’t completely cover the chunks, but give them an inch or so of liquid to sit in. As the chunks sit they gain pungency … you might want to keep the cover on the food processor bowl as much as possible. When all roots are cleaned and chunked, add white vinegar to about half way up the processor bowl and let the pieces sit about 15 minutes. If you have not opened a window yet, now is the time to do so. The pungent odor really gets strong once that food processor begins to work. Process the horseradish, adding white vinegar as needed, until no large chunks remain and the blend has a creamy texture.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA You’ll shed tears during processing, but these will be well worth it once you taste the sweet, fresh flavor of homegrown and home-processed horseradish.

Warning: you may never settle for store-bought again.

Since starting You Can Grow That! in October 2012, dozens upon dozens of gardening and growing ideas have been shared. Visit You Can Grow That! to dig into the brains of gardeners with a passion for encouraging others to green up their thumbs.

If you try growing horseradish as a result of this post, let me know. Roots should be available from quality independent garden centers and are sold by many seed companies.

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Bulbs to Plant, Bulbs to Store; Avoiding a Gardening Oops.

Welcome to December and the monthly Gardening Oops … the GOOPs confessional. On the first of each month, here at joene’s garden, it’s time to fess up a GOOPs, a garden-related miss-step or downright mistakes. The December 2012 GOOPs theme is too much to do, too little time, all revolving around bulbs and tubers.

Autumn is planting time for spring-blooming bulbs.  My order of Hyacinthoides (Spanish Bluebells), Camassia quamash, Dutch Iris, and two varieties of Crocus tommasinianus arrived and promptly went to the garage for safe keeping until planting.

The hyacinthoides and Camassia found permanent soil-based homes a week ago, with the helping hands of three-year-old granddaughter Avery – her first experience helping grandma plant bulbs.

Not so for the iris and crocus. They remain packaged in the garage.


Does this qualify as a GOOPs? Not yet. Even in December, in southern Connecticut, it’s not too late to plant spring-blooming bulbs, provided the ground has not yet frozen solid. The predicted warm weekend temperatures should entice me to plant these beauties outside.  If not, they’ll be planted in pots and stored in the garage or the cold stairwell of the basement hatchway. With a bit of soil moisture, and a few weeks of the cold temperatures bulbs need to sprout, late winter should bring new growth.  A third, least desirable, option is storing the bulbs in paper bags in the refrigerator to pot up later. Though never trying the refrigerator storage thing myself, it’s purported to work.

Another bulb to-do: properly storing the canna bulbs. Cannas are a bit too cold-intolerant to survive outside through zone 6 winters. Rarely do I take on a plant/bulb that requires extra care to survive Connecticut weather, but a friend shared these cannas last spring. They grew beautifully all summer in large clay pots in full sun, needing little more than regular water, so now I’m hooked. Removing the bulbs from their pots was quite a chore but, after yanking, tugging, and forcing the bulbs from the soil, they went into a cardboard box in the garage to let the soil dry. And, there they sit.


According the the video below, all that’s needed now is to place them in a paper bag, move them to the warmer, but still cool, basement, and check them occasionally to make sure they are not too dry.

Canna care

Time will tell whether this canna experience becomes a GOOPs … they may just survive my neglect to grow in potted homes again next summer.

The last bulb … well, actually tuber … left on my to-do is horseradish.


The tubers, dug from the ground, shaken free of as much soil as possible, and left in a cardboard box to dry and cure now need remaining soil brushed off. Then, after washing and peeling, they will be food-processor ground.  It takes some doing to turn these unattractive, fresh dug horseradish roots into an edible condiment, but the sweetness of the finished product makes it worthwhile.

Tick-tock, tick-tock … all I need is time.

Do you find time lacking in your gardening life?  You can share your tale of time-woe, or confess another type of GOOPs, in a comment below or on your blog … just leave a link and a teaser comment below.

Don’t be shy. All gardeners have GOOPs. If you’ve not made mistakes, you are not gardening hard enough.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2012 Joene Hendry

Newsy gardens & plants – April 9, 2010

Imagine a mass of climbing roses.  When in bloom, all you see is beauty. But look under the blossoms to the snarled, jumbled mass of thorny vines supporting the flowery show and things don’t look so rosy.  This analogy explains my feelings about indoor flower shows. I enjoy the sights and smells of these massive productions. I love the exposure to ideas of other gardeners and landscapers – madcap and sensible alike. The local big show, the

But the questioning skeptic in me has to ask: how much precious, non-renewable fuel and energy goes into creating each indoor oasis? Multiply this by the number of regional garden shows held across the States and one really has to question the ‘greenness’ of garden shows.

sedum-1 11-22-09 The Connecticut Flower and Garden Show was held in February – the dreariest, grayest of months in southern New England and it could not have been a more welcome time to soak up a bit of spring, albeit forced.  The San Francisco Flower and Garden Show happened more recently.   Take a stroll through the Designers look to the future of gardening photo stream.  You’ll see “The Living Room,” a room sized box with exterior walls plastered with various types of sedum similar to these from my garden, and other edgy and not-so designs.  Whether the photos elicit a “What?” reaction or get the creative juices flowing, catching a peek at designers’ ideas is always interesting.

After glimpsing “futuristic” garden designs, come back down to earth at the Smithsonian Institution’s interactive website Dig It! The Secrets of Soil. Plow into the info the Soil Science Society of America portrayed during their exhibit of the same name at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, in Washington DC.  The exhibit ran from July 2008 into January 2010, but the Soil Science Society of America is prusuing a permanent soil exhibit.  In the meantime visit the State Soils feature on the Dig It! site to read the soil tidbits listed for your state.  The Connecticut link explains why so many areas, including where I live, are covered by masses of glacial rock – we grow great rocks around here.  What I didn’t know: Windsor soils increase the fertility of the northern regions of the CT River valley in the Nutmeg State.  Maybe you’ll learn something about soils in your state.  The Dig It! site is full of lots of other interesting soil facts.

Probe deeper into the science behind making cut flowers last with the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service. Plant physiologists there are studying how a synthetic version of cytokinin – a naturally occurring plant compound – extends the life of cut flowers and potted plants. The April 2010 issue of Agricultural Research magazine explains more. Maybe this will be the answer to making cut flowers last, particularly for those who forget to change the vase water.

You might also enjoy Ann Raver’s experience Growing Your Own Horseradish and Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s saving native plants project.  Texas wildflower displays are predicted to be spectacular this year.  Plus, learn about the dirty secrets of the cut flower industry as Amy Stewart portrays in her  book, Flower Confidential – The Good, the Bad, the Beautiful in the Business of Cut Flowers.

I hope to make Newsy gardens & plants a regular Friday feature here.  Last week’s version seemed pretty popular – stay tuned for more.