Matamata Chronicle

How to grow horseradis­h

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Fiery horseradis­h is so easy to grow that this useful perennial can take over the garden so keep it in a pot! While you can bandicoot roots from an establishe­d plant year-round, horseradis­h will be hotter when harvested in late autumn, winter and early spring as cooler temperatur­es promote the formation of the compounds which give it its punchy taste.

SOW AND GROW

Plant root cuttings: March to September in warm areas; March to April and August to September in cooler areas Position: Full sun, six or more hours a day Harvest: 26 – 52 weeks Good for pots

GET STARTED

For best results, plant horseradis­h from March to September, as it doesn’t like it too hot, but really you can get away with planting it any time the ground is not frozen. Horseradis­h is easy-peasy to propagate from a division or a root cutting. In fact, plant any part of it and it’s likely to come away!

If you don’t know anyone with a plant you can pinch a root or a cutting from, then look for it in the herbs section at the garden centre or buy a piece of root at a farmers market and plant it.

STEP-BY-STEP

Because of its semi-invasive tendencies, it’s a good idea to confine it in a pot, although make it a decent sized pot and keep it in a spot which offers afternoon shade to avoid heat stress, or sink the entire pot into the ground to help keep it cool. In a pot, you can space as closely as 5cm apart. When transplant­ing seedlings, make sure to put the small bulb and roots below the soil, leaving the green stem and any foliage sticking up.

GROWING TIPS

Really, just plant it! Few plants are as easy to grow as horseradis­h, or as hardy (establishe­d plants will easily survive snow and hard frost). It does take a while to produce though, needing up to a year in the ground before the roots can be harvested.

Give horseradis­h a sunny spot, with deep, moisture-retentive soil.

Water every now and again in dry spells and mulch around the plants to conserve soil moisture.

As winter approaches, the foliage dies off and it enters dormancy. Unless it’s clearly labelled, plants can be very hard to locate again until spring, by which time they’ll likely have spread.

So harvest horseradis­h quite brutally while the foliage persists. Either dig up clumps or pull individual roots when the soil is damp. Trim and clean the roots, then dry and freeze.

STANDOUT VARIETIES

There are two types of horseradis­h available in New Zealand, common horseradis­h which has broad, crinkled leaves and good fleshy roots, and hard-tofind ‘Bohemian’ which has narrower, smoother leaves but also thinner and lower quality roots.

TROUBLESHO­OTING

Really, this crop is almost trouble-free, although the foliage of newly planted plants can be attractive to white butterfly caterpilla­rs (although they seem to ignore well establishe­d plants).

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