On Growing Horseradish

Three years ago, my gardening friend and neighbor handed me a little brown bag.  Inside that bag were two shriveled up horseradish roots.  Not much to look at.

I had never grown horseradish before.  Caryn assured me it was easy.  Her only advise: grow it in a pot unless you want it to spread.

So I did.

In early spring, in a large pot filled with Miracle Grow potting soil, I placed the two 4" and 5" roots.  The pot was placed in a area that received morning and early afternoon sun.  I kept the soil moist.  When the leaves started to die back, I dug out the roots. And THAT, is how you grow horseradish!

Gardening does not get any easier! 

Be sure to save a couple of the smaller roots for planting next season.  Remove the leaves and dirt.  Store the roots in a brown paper bag in a cool, dry area. 

Preparing the horseradish:  Scrub and peel the outer root layer.  Grate finely using a grater.  Fresh horseradish is pungent so be prepared to tear up.  Mix the grated root with white vinegar and a pinch of salt.  For every 3 tablespoons of root, add 1 tablespoon of vinegar.  Put mixture in a clean, sterile jar and store it in the refrigerator.  I love horseradish on bratwurst.  You can also add horseradish to mash potatoes.  When added to mayonnaise, it makes a snappy condiment for roast beef sandwiches.


A Garden Update

Extreme best describes the 2010 growing season in Zone 5. Challenging is another good word to describe it!

The ground was tilled, and the seeds and plant starts - tomatoes, peppers, cabbage - went in the third week in May.  Everything appeared to be on track.

Until June.  It was an extremely wet June.  Too wet.  Water ponded at either end of the main garden.  Tomatoes don't like soggy feet.  Neither do beans.  The heavy rains came at such frequent and hard intervals that the plants never had a chance to dry out.  Fortunately, I had held back some tomato starts.  I planted these in the kitchen garden after harvesting the leaf lettuce, radishes and peas in mid-June.  As of this writing, the plants look healthy and fruit is setting.  The kitchen garden should produce a good, though much smaller crop of tomatoes in mid to late September.

The tomatoes in the main garden struggled but managed to fruit.  Then came July and August.

Both months saw hot, unrelenting temps in the high 80's and 90's.  Too hot for the fruit.  Most of the large tomato varieties sucumbed to yellow shoulder, a ripening disorder.  The tops of the tomato stayed yellow and hard no matter how long they remained on the vine.  The tops had to be cut off and that meant nearly half of each fruit was inedible.  Such a disappointment.  2009 was a bumper crop year for tomatoes and I was able to freeze over 20 pints. Nothing will be frozen this year.

Because of better drainage and partial shade, the potted cherry tomatoes weren't affected by the wet or heat.  Surprisingly, the yellow cherry tomatoes in the main garden, didn't mind either and produced plump, sweet-tasting fruit.


In July, half of the beans had to be replanted.  The wet conditions caused stunting and rotting.  I replanted both the Mellow Yellow and Blue Lake 47 green bush snap beans.  Since then, two successive pickings have been made and young beans continue to grow.  I fertilized the beans with Miracle Gro at the end of July.

The Ichiban eggplant has not produced anything but there is one purple flower.  So, maybe I'll get one eggplant.

The green, red and orange peppers are finally coming around.  In another week or so, the first peppers should be ready. 

Because the pickling cucumbers were mounded, the plants were not bothered by the wet conditions, but the heat stunted the fruit set.  Fruit was shorter, but thankfully, not bitter. Overall, yields were moderately good and several jars of pickles were put up.

Prolific as usual, the Saffron Squash and Sweet Zuke Hybrid did not disappoint.  I made a second planting of zucchini in mid-July after harvesting the onions. 

The spaghetti squash did so-so and were smaller than in year's past.  Like the eggplants, the butternut squash plants produced just one medium sized squash which is still ripening on the vine.  I am watching that one like a mother hen!

The watermelon continues to grow.  No problems - knock on wood :)


I harvested the first firm and bright red cabbage head this week.  It was wonderful cooked in vinegar with a couple of fresh picked apples, a small, peeled onion left whole and pierced with four cloves, some bacon fat; and sugared to taste.  This was the first year for red cabbage and all of the plants have done well.  I have been harvesting the Earliana (green) cabbage since July.  The heads are compact and crisp.  Some plants are behind in growth but this is actually extending the harvest.  Early in the season, the cabbage worms were a pest on both varieties, but between hand picking and applying insecticidal soap, the pest was brought under control.


Now that I think about pests, I realize I did not see one tomato horn worm this year.  Which is great  because they kind of freak me out.  Guess they didn't care for the wet and heat either!


Variegated Cat Grass

Variegated Cat Grass is a pretty little plant.

I won’t lie. I did not buy these annual seeds purely for my cats' enjoyment.  Rather, I bought them because the catalog's photograph also appealed to me.

My cats have always liked, especially in winter, the green variety of cat grass.  My cats can actually smell the sprouts as they bursts open from the seeds.  On many occasions, I have come into the kitchen to see a cat, head tilted upwards to the top of the plant shelf, drinking in the smell of sprouts coming from where the emerging seedlings are; waiting patiently for the day the pot is brought down to their level.

This particular cat grass has either solid green or translucent white blades.  I think the juxtaposition of the two colors is striking.
I planted the Burpee brand seeds, evenly and thinly, in regular potting soil in an outdoor clay planter. Firmed lightly and moistened, the seeds germinated within five days. The seeds can also be planted directly in the ground in rows or patches. I prefer to keep my plantings portable. The pot came inside as soon as the grass was around 3 inches. Noll, Tiggy and Uncle Keaks descended upon the tender, young grass blades, like a swarm of locust.

If you look closely, you'll see, the jagged edges of the blades prove it’s not just a pretty little thing; it’s also mighty tasty.