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Horseradish, when to dig

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#1 Martha Ferguson

Martha Ferguson
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Posted 24 April 2006 - 07:30 AM

I planted horseradish for the first time last spring and then forgot to dig it up for harvest in the fall. Out in the spring herb garden the plant is sprouting new leaves now which made me remember I should have harvested the roots in the fall.

Will it just grow more for a larger harvest this fall, or should I dig it up now, divide, harvest and replant for this season?
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#2 imagardener



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Posted 24 April 2006 - 01:45 PM

The horseradish can be harvested for use now if the leaves remain small and the roots you dig up are all of the following: firm, white and fresh smelling. An old adage is to only use horseradish in months that contain an -r-. April is pushing it some but we harvest now if the above three rules apply. Horseradish needs to rest/grow the other months.

If you desire a pungent and good supply from a patch, its best to dig up the bed now, replant divisions and mainly keep weed free till the horseradish leaves are past tender and keep watered so the leaves don't wilt. Totally clear the bed of any root fingerlings and pieces prior to replanting. -OR- the bed can also be left as it is for years. The roots will always be small, and may not have quite the zing of divisions replanted yearly in the spring. There is quite a specific process for cutting the divisions and replanting them but you probably are familiar with that as you have an active patch.

As far back as my memory takes me, my grandfather had a horseradish patch that remained untouched except for fall harvesting done after the first good frost. My father was from the school of thought that after fall harvesting, the patch was left till early spring, when one last harvest was made. Cuttings were taken from the harvest and the bed totally cleared before replanting.The goal was to get this done before any spring growth appeared. Grandfathers fall horseradish was always smaller and not so spicy (did he maybe prefer it that way in his later years?) While that of Dad's fall/spring harvest was so pungent, even while digging, an up close and personal sniff not only took ones breath away but cleared a nose for the rest of the day.

If you harvest the root now and plan for a sauce, it freezes well in small glass jars. Place a piece of plastic wrap between the jar rim and lid if the lid is metal. Yum - Do I smell Brats right off the grill with fresh horseradish sauce? well, not at my house.
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