The International Herb Association proclaimed horseradish as the Herb of the year in 2011 on the recommendation of Dr. Christopher who revealed that this herb was extremely good for treating sinus infections and carry antibiotic properties that can combat the onset of bacterial diseases in the body. The plant is rich in sulphur. It is a perennial plant that can grow to a height of 3feet. The flowers are hermaphrodite and bloom from May to June. The pollination takes place through beetles, bees, and flies. Requires hardy to zone 5, medium (loam), light (sandy) or heavy (clay) well drained soil for growth. The seeds, roots, and leaves of horseradish are edible.
Species: A. rusticana
It belongs to the same family as the cabbage and broccoli and the same kinds of pests will attack it such as the green caterpillars.
Grow from: It is fairly easy to grow this plant. It is grown from root cuttings and not seeds. It can be grown outside and need not be grown indoors at first. One can grow it even from a store bought horseradish root. However if you don't dig up the roots after harvesting, you will have a lot more of the plants next spring as it can go wild. To plant a new root, dig around 1 foot hole in width and deep as your shovel and loosen the soil in the hole. Plant the root at an angle of 45degrees and cover the soil so that its just a little below the surface, water the root. As the dirt settles down you can add some compost in the space.
Sun factor: full sun
Soil: Versatile and grows anywhere. Ideal with a pH of 5.5-7
How tall: Upto 3ft tall and 18" wide.
Where to grow: Containers are ideal as it is easier to control them, otherwise can grow easily and take over the landscape.
Harvest: The time to harvest depends on whether you like the strong flavor or the mild flavor. If mild, then harvest before the frost in spring, otherwise after the frost to get the best flavor.
Horseradish can be grown as annual plant in all the zones except from 2 to 9 hardiness zones where it can be grown only as a perennial plant. It thrives best in zones where winters are not frosty and allow the plants to continue their normal growing process. When the leaves are killed during frost, the roots are dug and divided into sections. The main root is retained as harvest, and the other off shoots coming from the main root are planted again to gain crop the next year. If you do not dig out the root, horseradish multiples and grows on its own under the ground and can invade unwanted territories of your garden or crop section. Older plants can be used for replanting by dividing but old roots become stubborn and woody and are of no use.
Singrin and Myrosin: The plant or roots of horseradish do not exude pungent odor unless it is broken. When it is bruised or scraped it starts emanating pungent odor and carries hot and bitter-sweet taste. It contains Sinigrin, a type of crystalline glucoside that gets decomposed when it comes in contact with the enzyme –Myrosin in presence of water. Myrosin and Sinigrin are present in different cells of the roots and only when the fresh root is scraped they come together to give rise to a volatile oil, allyl isothiocyanate.
Pungent odor: The Myrosin content gives the oil pungent odor and diffusalbe property. It is so concentrated that one small drop can odorize a complete room. The volatile strength of the root is lost on exposure to atmosphere. The root of horseradish has other coponds such as, starch, gum, acetates, albumin, sugar and resin.
Different parts of horseradish are used for various purposes.