Sunday, November 30, 2014

Perennial Harvest

We have had a lot of recent posts about chickens. This post only has pictures of them for scale. =)

Any idea what this is? A dirt golem? Maybe a Illithid? I planted this three years ago and decided it was time to harvest it. I noticed it was sending out runners and it was very close to one of our leach lines. It took the good part of an hour to get the whole thing out of the ground. I have a feeling I will be fighting this plant for years to come where I dug it up. It propagates rather easily from root cuttings.

Give up? It is a three year old horseradish plant (Armoracia rusticana). Horseradish is in the brassica family along with cabbage, broccoli and kohlrabi. This plant has been used by humans since records have been kept and most likely way before that. It has been used as a medicine since the middle ages. Most people know it for its edible qualities, notably that stuff you put in cocktail sauce. That pungent smell you associate with it is actually a chemical reaction that takes place when you break the cell walls. The grating process creates a compound called allyl isothiocyanate or mustard oil. Here is a pretty picture for my nerdy readers.

Do you like sushi? Do you like wasabi with your sushi? Most commercial wasabi is made from the horseradish plant, not the wasabi plant, which is hard to cultivate and expensive. Horseradish is used in the biochemical world quite a lot. An enzyme found in its roots; horseradish peroxidase , is used as a signal amplifier to help increase detectability of specific molecules.

Here it is all cleaned up. This is well over 10 pounds of horseradish. I gave a bunch away, stored a bunch in peat moss in the garage and plan to use all the runners and crowns in the spring to propagate it to sell. I killed two birds with one stone when I dug it up. I want to put in a bunch of small preformed ponds in my garden. The hole this left is the perfect place for one.