Garden Solutions Center Ask the Expert

Got a question? Ask and find your answer right here.

Question

Last fall I finally dug up my horseradish plants which had been in the garden a few years. I was impressed with the harvest and I saved the green tops of some of the roots. They still look like they could grow. Do you have any tips on planting and fertilizing? Thank you.

Answers

3 answers

  1. The root, rather than the leaves, is the part that is planted. When harvesting roots, you want to cut off the top third for use in the kitchen and then save the bottom for planting in the garden. Just make sure to mark which end is up so you don't plant the cutting upside down. Keep in mind that if any part of the root was left in the ground after harvest--even a small piece--the perennial plant will return on its own in the spring.

    Dig a hole about twice as deep as your cutting and plant the root cutting upright, with the top of the cutting facing up at the soil level. If you are not sure which end is up, then plant the cutting horizontally just a couple of inches below the soil, or at a 45 degree angle.

    Ideal spacing to plant root cuttings is between 18 to 24 inches apart in full sun and soil rich in organic matter. (Plants will tolerate light shade, which for your area may prove best.) Adding a shovelful of compost or aged manure to the soil prior to planting will typically suffice for all the nutrients needed. We also add rock dust or bonemeal to the soil to promote healthy roots. Otherwise, you can sidedress with a mid-summer application of a low-nitrogen fertilizer if needed. Keep the sol moist and water regularly during dry spells. Finish off with a couple inches of mulch to conserve moisture.

    As for the leaves, the young ones are great in salads or added to soups. However the older leaves are too tough to eat. Just be sure not to add any roots to the compost pile or you may have horseradish overtaking your garden!

    1. In response to Kris_Wetherbee

      I tried to click helpful but it did not work. But it is VERY helpful. I'm glad I asked as I kept the TOP part with the leaves to replant. I'm lucky though because, like you said if I leave any part of the root it will grow, I already have large leaves coming out of the ground from where I harvested!! I have another question and do not know if you will see this. How long do the roots take to mature? I hate to admit I did not harvest for maybe 4-5 years. But now that I have, I'm sure the roots are small. Thanks!

    2. In response to Kris_Wetherbee

      If your growing season is long you can harvest roots in late fall of the same year, though some experts recommend waiting until the second fall after planting. You can even do as you did and leave the roots in the ground for years and harvest as needed. Some gardeners say that one year old plants have the most flavor, but flavor is probably more influenced by weather, temperatures and growing conditions. Some say that the best flavor comes from roots whose tops have stopped growing or have encountered freezes. That might be a fun experiment to try--one year old roots versus roots that are several years old, and frozen tops versus nonfrozen!

Ask the Expert

Recent Activities