Some Like It Hot Garden

habaneroWhen it comes to growing a garden full of flavors, plants with a little (or a lot!) of heat are pretty common.

The hundreds of pepper varieties available represent everything from slightly warm to ‘trip to the hospital’ hot and everything in between. then there are plants like mustard and horseradish that have a very distinctive kind of ‘hot.’

Rounding out our ‘hot’ garden this year is the radish family, which also ranges from very mild to steamy hot! (Recipes below!)

Ingredients

1 horseradish plant
1 or more hot pepper plants
packets of radish seeds
large planting containers, window box, or small garden plot

For a complete list of vegetables that can be grown in Western Washington and when/how to plant them, this chart is a great resource.

Location

You can plant this garden in large pots or directly in the garden. Whether in a container or garden, plants need good light, soil, adequate space, and water. Choose a location that is somewhat flat and receives a minimum of 8-10 hours of full sunlight each day. More is always better. In addition, make sure you have a good source of water nearby. Western Washington summers are often very dry throughout July & August. Your ‘hot’ garden will appreciate a good watering at least once a week during the growing season and daily watering if in containers.

Soil Prep

If you are starting a new, in-ground garden, it’s a good idea to have the soil tested first. Your local conservation district should be able to help you with that task. You can also use raised beds or large pots/barrels. Fill them with clean soil and/or compost for an instant garden.

Mix 3-4 inches of compost into a new garden to improve its overall soil biology and health. If you already have a garden area, be sure to add 1-2 inches of compost each year to maintain soil health.

Fertility

To ensure adequate nutrition for your garden, add a complete organic fertilizer (available at most garden and nursery centers) to the area to be planted and mix in well before planting. Be sure to follow directions for the product you are using; generally 1-2 cups per 10 square feet and broadcast across the area. For long season heavy feeders like peppers, adding a top dressing around the plants of 1-inch of compost a month after planting can help keep them growing vigorously.

Planting

If growing in-ground, space peppers about 24 inches apart. It’s best to put the horseradish in a place by itself to contain it. Horseradish sends down long tap roots. Any piece of root left in the soil will sprout a new plant. If this is a concern, grow it in a large container, but be sure to keep it well-watered when temps rise.

Broadcast the radish seed around the other plants, trying to keep them 3-4 inches apart. You’ll be able to harvest and reseed at least two crops during the season.

Maintenance

Weed, water, and nurture your plants through the summer. Make certain that your garden is always well watered, but not sopping wet. Have a rain gauge set up near your garden. Summer rains don’t often last long enough to soak our gardens well and often need additional irrigation. For more information on caring for your vegetable gardens, Home Vegetable Gardening in Washington is a great resource. Also check out these publications from WSU on vegetable gardening.

Harvest

 Picking Fruits and Vegetables provides specifics to look for to harvest each vegetable for best flavor and nutrition. this publication on horseradish gives details on growing, harvest, a, storage, and usage.

Some Like It Hot Recipes

Variety is the spice of life. Here’s a few ‘hot’ recipes for you to try.

Radish Butter on Toasted Baguettes

8 medium radishes (about 1 bunch), cleaned, root ends trimmed
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
One 8-ounce baguette
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grate radishes on the large holes of a box grater; place on paper towels, and squeeze out excess liquid. Combine radishes and butter in a small bowl; mix well. Slice baguette in half lengthwise, and place in oven; toast until crisp and browned. Remove from oven, and cool slightly. Spread radish mixture on toasted baguette; season with salt and pepper. Slice each half into four pieces, and serve. Recipe courtesy marthastewart.com.

Fresh, Prepared Horseradish

To grate your own horseradish, be very cautious; best to wear food-safe plastic gloves to protect your hands. Clean and peel the outer layer using a vegetable peeler, then use a fine grating surface in a downward-cross motion. If the smell is too strong or you’re looking for a more time-efficient method you can use a blender to grate horseradish. Simply wash, peel, and cube the root and process in a blender or food processor in small batches, adding a little cold water to moisten. When the mixture reaches your desired consistency and taste, add two tablespoons of white vinegar and a teaspoon of salt for each cup of grated horseradish and store in the refrigerator for up to six months.

Bacon, Cream Cheese, & Horseradish Dip

6 thick slices lean hickory-smoked bacon
Two 8-ounce packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup half-and-half
2 tablespoons minced fresh chives
2 tablespoons fresh prepared horseradish
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 pound extra-sharp cheddar cheese, finely grated
Plenty of kosher salt
Chips or crackers of your choice strong enough to stand up to this dip.

In a large skillet, fry the bacon over moderate heat till almost crisp, drain on paper towels, and crumble finely. In a bowl, blend the cream cheese and half-and-half till smooth, add the bacon and remaining ingredients except crackers, and mix till well blended. Cover the dip and let stand about 1 hour before serving with crackers.

*When grating fresh horseradish, it’s best to wear gloves, some folks are very sensitive to the juices.

Pepper Joe’s Hot Sauce

12 jalapeno peppers
8 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 whole lime
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 tablespoon salt
1/2 tablespoon onion powder
1/2 tablespoon garlic powder

Cut hot peppers in half and remove seeds. Drop in boiling water for 30 seconds to blanche. Squeeze juice from lime and combine hot peppers with all other ingredients in blender and chop. Then put on high speed to blend all ingredients together. Store in glass jar or bottle in the refrigerator for up to six months. Recipe courtesy pepperjoe.com.

Washington State University