In most refrigerators, you will find a little glass jar of horseradish. The potent condiment probably originated in eastern Europe and western Asia. It has long been used for medicinal purposes in many cultures, but it is likely that, because of the intensity of its flavor, the peppery root wasn't considered an edible seasoning until the Middle Ages, when it became popular in German and Danish cooking. Horseradish made its way into the English diet around the seventeenth century. It traveled to North America via the early colonists. Today, it remains a classic accompaniment to roast beef, fish, and other dishes.
Horseradish is among the easiest plants to grow.
1. To prepare horseradish root for planting, soak it in water for 24 hours. Then, cut it in half lengthwise. Martha plants her horseradish roots in the garden in sleeves made of 5-gallon plastic nursery pots with their bottoms removed. The barrier created by the sleeve keeps the vigorous perennial from invading the rest of the garden.
2. Pick a sunny spot for the horseradish roots, and dig a hole deep enough to accommodate the plastic sleeve. Add sand to the bottom of the hole for drainage.
3. Then fill the sleeve with moist topsoil enriched with sifted compost. Plant the root so that its top is almost level with the surface of the garden.
4. Cover the hole with more soil, and tag the spot with a plant marker.
Horseradish planted in the spring will develop enough root mass for a late-fall harvest. The root can be dug up one small piece at a time (as needed) or removed completely and refrigerated (scrubbed clean) in a vegetable crisper for a couple of weeks.