Posts Tagged ‘Herbs’

Horseradish… part II

Well, my overpriced, in-your-face christian local garden centre has ripped me off.  In April I bought two bags of asparagus Jersey Knight crowns as well as a bag of horseradish roots.  As of June 13 I am without any signs of life from these packages.  

I love horseradish.  I don’t eat it a lot but I do like the look of the plant and am hoping that growing my own will increase my consumption as well.  So you can imagine my dismay at paying around 5 bucks for a pack of two skinny little roots and having nothing come up.  This stuff is supposed to be a weed to most people!  I was patient with it but after 4 weeks I dug around where I planted them and found nothing but dried up little roots.  Today, however, my luck has changed. 

As I took the dog for a walk around the neighbourhood this morning I was weaving up and down back alleys — I hate letting my dog crap on peoples yards even if I do pick it up but a back alley offers a bit more privacy — and as the dog stops to sniff at a fence post I see a patch of elegant, long, strap-like green leaves.  After a few moments I realized that it was horseradish.  Tons of it.  The main patch was behind the chain link fence and out of reach, but there were a good 10 clumps outside the fence and butting up against the pavement of the alley.  I knew I had to have some.

At work today I devised a plan to walk the dog down said alley again, this time with trowel in pocket and bag in hand.  Unfortunately the walk happened later than planned due to an extended battle with my own weeds and thus we were left in the dark.  Retracing my steps and using my cellphone as a light I finally came across it.  It was closer to my house than I remembered, just a block away.  The leaves were tall and healthy looking. In went the trowel.  The first clump broke off in my hand like a pulled dandelion.  I went back for more and brought up two plants with a decent sized root on them.  I tasted it and it was spicy.  It was definitely horseradish. In total I grabbed about 5 plants and stole off into the night with my dog in tow.  

At home I stuck them in the ground where the dud roots had been planted and watered well.  There’s something different about gardening at 11:00pm in the dark, a little unsettling… but coupled with the high of making off with some herbs it was exhilarating.  I’m hoping the plants thrive.  If not, I guess I know where to get more.  

Now of course its crossed my mind that I stole from someone.  Does it bother me?  Why didn’t I just ask?  Whats wrong with you?

All great questions.  It was a huge patch and going into the back alley, so it was probably free for the taking, so I can justify it.  They probably won’t even miss it, or in the event it had been there for a long time (as suggested by the spread of the patch) it wasn’t being used and they probably had no idea what it was.  To answer the second question — I’m pretty shy and feel like a tool asking for plants.  Also, I like the thrill of doing something without permission… my inner teenager coming out.  Thirdly, sometimes I just don’t think about what the hell I’m doing till after I’ve done it.  

So there you have it, the story of my ill-gotten horseradish.  I hope that house belonged to those snooty garden centre owners.

Tulips and other flowers

This house didn’t come with much in the way of plants or garden beauty.  However some tulips and hollyhocks have come up this year.  I knew the hollyhocks were there but the tulips were a surprise.  Moving in in July tends to keep spring blooming bulbs a secret.  There is also an abundance of chives and some fuzzy leaved ground cover along the west side of the house.  I planted a few echinacea and a foxglove last year and am glad to see they are coming back.  

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This part doesn’t strictly meet my edible requirement but I have no heart to rip them out.  Plus I do need a place to put in my favourites like bleeding heart and columbines so this perennial flower bed might just be the place.  It is quite bare since we weeded it on Saturday but I’ve added some more echinacea seeds, scattered some hollyhock seeds and put in some dill.  Hopefully this area will evolve and take shape over the next few summers.  

Also, notice the shiny new downspout.  Although its not the most convenient of downspouts it does reflect the new eaves we’ve had put on the house.  No longer will the rain run straight off the roof and wash away the soil in this bed… or damage my foundation.  This house is in good hands again.

Horseradish

I’ve always been a fan of horseradish with my steak or roast beef.  I’m sure it goes with a hell of a lot more things that I’ve never even tried.  Well come fall I’ll be looking for some good ideas.  Along with my potatoes I planted two horseradish roots.  They’re not quite in full sun, but in the shadow of the chokecherry and lilac bushes.  As mentioned in the last post horseradish is supposedly a good companion for potatoes and I had the space anyway. 

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They went in easy.  The soil I had worked over was loose and rich.  As per instructions on various websites I planted them about 2 inches deep on a slight angle.  The roots look similar to a dandelion root and from pictures of mature plants the leaves look a little ‘weedy’ as well.  

I should expect shoots in a few weeks and can harvest sometime this fall but will taste its best after the first hard frost.  It can apparently become invasive if left in the ground and care should be taken to limit its spread.  I can’t think of any other ‘weed’ that is as useful as this, well maybe a rampant raspberry patch.  

To prepare horseradish it should first be grated (which can irritate the eyes and nasal patches apparently) and then mixed with a bit of vinegar and cream for creamed horseradish or with a little bit of veg oil to make a spicier version.  Maybe a delicious addition to some of its mashed neighbours, the potato?  

Have you grown horseradish? What is your favourite way to prepare it? Leave me a comment!

Ref:  Herb Expert UK