Growing horseradish in containers – March

For many, horseradish sauce is an essential accompaniment to Roast Beef although, personally, I prefer a good dollop of mustard. I do, however, like horseradish sauce served with smoked mackerel or trout. And growing your own horseradish is remarkably simple. It is a hardy perennial that produces a mass of leaf growth, although the bit we are interested in is its root. The plants are very tough, will survive very low temperatures and have very few problems with pests or diseases.

Since the plants are invasive and can be difficult to get rid of once established, it is best grown in a container, raised bed or large pot. You can grow it from seed but it is easier to buy pieces of root (thongs) for planting (or find someone else on the allotments with some you can scrounge). To plant, fill the container with general purpose compost and the make holes with a dibber deep enough to drop the roots in leaving then about 2 inches (5cm) from the surface. Cover the roots and firm down. And really that’s about it, apart from watering during the growing season to prevent the foliage from slumping.

To Harvest
Cool conditions cause the roots to generate the chemicals that give horseradish its fiery taste, so it’s best to wait until October or November to harvest the first roots. Use a fork to loosen the soil. Follow the main tap root to work out in which direction it goes and then locate a couple of the thicker roots (about finger’s thickness) and it should be possible to break these off
Be warned though, young plants may not carry the same strong taste of slightly older plants.
There are many recipes online to make the sauce – Try the BBC Food site for a good one!

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