Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Scourge of the Garden But Tasty on the Plate

Speaking of gardening, there are some lessons that I've had to learn the hard way. My recent Waterloo came in the form of a friend offering to share a cutting from her horseradish plant.

Fresh horseradish? Sure! I love its dry, peppery bite, which is so much milder than the white, biting stuff in jars that can take your head off if you're not careful. (Due not as much to the horseradish it contains as to the mustard oil that's sometimes added to it.)

My big mistake was in not checking into its growth habits before planting it in my raised bed. The first year was fine…it stayed contained in the corner of the box where I'd planted it and yielded a few long roots that spiced up grilled meats and stews when grated over the top.

The second year was the wake-up call. That's when I realized I had a monster on my hands. Almost half the bed was taken over by the large waving leaves, and it was threatening to strangle the rhubarb next to it. Which meant digging out the rhubarb plant and disentangling its roots from the death grip of the horseradish, as well as digging out as many of the horseradish roots as I could find.

I know I'm going to be digging them out for years to come, trying to prevent a second War of the Raised Bed. Though, as strange as it may sound, I'm committed to planting it again. The difference being that this time it'll be growing within the confines of a pot.

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