After foolishly looking through seed catalogs for horseradish seeds throughout the month of February, it took a New York Times article to set me straight: one grows horseradish from root stock. So I promptly ordered 5 from the nearest purveyor mentioned (only about 70 miles away – still local!). They arrived promptly, wrapped in damp newspaper and tucked for mailing inside a plastic bag. They look like fingers, really. Like $20 of cold, clammy zombie fingers. One end is cut flat and the other at an angle. The brief instructions say to plant them 1 to 2 inches beneath the surface of the dirt at a 45 degree angle. Jeesh. I didn’t think I needed a protractor for this. But, I headed to the garden on this unseasonably warm day, dug an 8 inch hole to accomodate the long root, and tilted the horseradish appropriately before covering it all with dirt. By fall, I was told, I might be able to harvest a bit, and by next spring after its first dormant winter in the cold northeast ground, I will certainly be able to cut some root away to shred, perhaps mix with vinegar and eat.
“Just be careful,” the woman from the farm had told me on the phone. “You have to process the horseradish outside. It burns – like mustard gas.” Hot and spicy – just the way I like it. I can’t wait.