This hardy, easy-to-grow perennial member of the cabbage family is unforgettable! The roots of this coarse, weedy-looking plant contains an oil that has a hot, biting, pungent taste, making it valuable as a condiment.
• This information can be found in The Georgia Fruit & Vegetable Book by Walter Reeves and Felder Rushing
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Its white roots are scrubbed clean then peeled, grated, and mixed with vinegar or either sweet or sour cream, grated beet root, or simply sprinkled directly over roast prime rib, corned beef, or oysters. Its oil is irritating to many people, so treat it like hot peppers.
Because horseradish requires a long, cool growing season, it is best suited for the upper South and higher elevations; gardeners in hotter areas should protect the plants from hot mid-day or afternoon sun, and mulch to keep roots cool and moist. Seeds are not used; either buy small plants, or plant side root cuttings called “sets” which are removed from the main central root when it is harvested in the fall and stored in a moist, cool place (a plastic bag in the refrigerator) until time for planting in the late winter or very early spring. Place pencil-size sets a foot apart in furrows 3-5 inches deep. Lay each set at an angle, with the “top” slightly higher (hint: when harvesting, cut the top ends squarely, and the bottom ends at an angle, so you can tell which end is which later), and cover the bottom end with soil.
Harvest fresh, hot horseradish all season by cutting pieces of roots from the outside of the root clump as you need them. They are more pungent and sweet in the fall after a freeze. Good varieties are ‘Bohemian’ and ‘Maliner Kren’ – or just get a start from a gardening neighbor