Armoracia rusticana. Horseradish is easy to grow and tough as nails. Like rhubarb, and some other perennial food plants, the goal when planting from seed is to allow the root stock to develop and become established before harvesting. The pungency of horseradish comes when its tissues are crushed. The plant’s natural defense against being eaten is exactly what we love about it – that sharp, pungent flavour and aroma that pairs so well with many savoury dishes. Raifort Champêtre horseradish seeds, or “country horseradish,” are a French heirloom type that is hardy from Zones 2-9. Asymmetrical, highly indented leaves emerge in spring, followed by pretty flowers that are attractive to bees, butterflies, and other pollinators. Unlike many of its cousins in the Brassica family, this plant has few predators, and it can be grown in full sun to partial shade. Its flavour is best after first frost or in early spring, before the first leaves emerge. The leaves are edible and have a similar flavour to the thick taproots. Horseradish grows to 1.5m (4.9′) tall.
You may have heard the widely held view that horseradish can only be grown from roots. Most horseradish is propagated clonally, by taking cuttings from one root to produce many plants. And this is a good way to propagate it, too. But horseradish rejects its own pollen, so when bees move pollen between genetically similar (clonal) plants, seed production is extremely weak. However, when genetically diverse horseradish plants are grown together, the pollen is not rejected by the flowers, so commercial seed production is possible. This means that the seeds themselves will show some genetic diversity, resulting in minor variations in flavour and heat levels from root to root. And if these genetically diverse plants are left to flower, they will potentially carry on and produce another generation of viable seeds. And so on.
Open pollinated seeds.
Unavailable for 2018*
* We were very disappointed to find that our lot of horseradish seeds was contaminated by weeds, making it unavailable for sale in 2018. Apologies to everyone who hoped, with us, to grow it this season.