It started out innocently. On the weekend of our son’s graduation from Penn State two years ago, we moseyed around a native plant sale on the outskirts of the university. I picked up a 4-inch pot of horseradish and waved it at CRR. “Sure, let’s get one,” he said.

Horseradish is a great accompaniment to a gorgeous steak. In small doses, it can liven up everything from tuna salad to mashed potatoes. Or put a little zing into mayo for almost any use.

Early Greeks used it as a rub for lower back pain. Jews still use it in in Passover Seders as a bitter herb. According to the website Horseradish.org, the Delphic oracle told Apollo, “The radish is worth its weight in lead, the beet its weight in silver, the horseradish its weight in gold.”

Six million gallons of the stuff are produced in the U.S. every year, clearing sinuses from coast to coast.

Back to my garden. It muscled its way through one corner of the garden in Year One, and we fought off Mexican beetles that chewed its leaves into tatters. In Year Two, CRR divided it and now it conquers two corners of our garden. This year I am determined to contain its voracious root, and not let it overshadow the beets and carrots. The fight is on.

horseradish

horseradish

It turns out that horseradish is invasive, which I suppose I should’ve known given its aggressive punch.

If you want a root, let me know. We just sent some to my sister in Alaska, and I’m betting the horseradish will withstand even Arctic winters.

To prepare: Take a chunk of root, peel and cut into one-inch pieces. Whirl in food processor until desired consistency (do NOT inhale the fumes rising from the   food processor, they’re dangerous). Add a little white vinegar as a preservative. Will keep refrigerated for several weeks.

Sandy Johnson is a journalist and a gardener, equally passionate about both. She lives in Alexandria, VA.  Visit her on her blog, Grassroots & Gardening.

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