Fruit and Vegetables

Horseradish, Ramolaccio - Raphanus sativus

Horseradish, Ramolaccio - Raphanus sativus

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Horseradish or ravioli

The ramolaccio, also known as winter root, is a common root vegetable in our country. Generally speaking it is very similar to the more common radish, but acquires a different name to emphasize its ability to grow even during the coldest months of the year. It has the peculiar characteristic of having a more intense and spicy taste than the others. It is generally used both in combination with other raw vegetables (for example cut into thin slices in salads) or grated or preserved in vinegar. It is a genus that includes eight herbaceous species from Europe, the Mediterranean regions and from the Central Asia. The plants are biennial or perennial annuals.
The leaves are lobed or pennatifid.
The flowers range from white to purple or pale yellow.
The fruit is a siliqua and when ripe it breaks at the bottlenecks between one seed and another.

THE RAMOLACCIO IN BRIEFType of plant Biennial herbaceousHeight at maturity Up to 45 cmCulture SimpleMaintenance lowGrowth fastWater needs Medium-highMultiplication sowingExposure Sun / half-shade (in summer)Ground Adaptable. Not too clayey or with stonesRusticitа Very rusticSpace between rows 15/30 cmSpace on the row 10 cmTemperature / days for germination 8-30 ° C / 4-8 daysSowing horseradish

The sowing period of this vegetable is very long. You can proceed from the end of the frosts until at least half of autumn. For a family vegetable garden, it is highly recommended to scale seeds, allowing 15 to 20 days to pass between one session and another. In this way the harvest will be guaranteed for almost all the year.
Germination is very simple in almost all periods of the year, since it occurs in a short time (4 to 8 days) even at very low or high temperatures (between 8 and 30 ° C).
So long as frost does not occur, it is therefore advisable to sow them on the spot, with subsequent thinning. In the heart of winter it is instead possible to obtain germination at home, on a warm bed. In this case the ideal is to use special alveolar trays or to soon repatish the plants directly in the dwelling, so that the root then develops into the final soil.
If you want to have a more homogeneous crop, you can also create rows spaced on average between 15 and 30 cm (depending on the size you reach) and leaving at least 5-10 cm between one and the other.
Sowing: they are sown in open air from March to August every fifteen to twenty days.
Soil: prefers loose soil.

Turnaround and consociation

The ramolaccio likes the proximity of artichokes, beets, turnips, carrots, celery, endive, spinach, beans, broad beans, lettuce, melon, parsley, peas and tomato. The intercropping with lettuce is absolutely recommended because it reduces the spicy taste.
Instead, you should avoid broccoli, cabbage, courgettes, potatoes and chervil.
It can easily precede or follow the most common vegetable crops.
Combination: it is associated with lettuces, spinach, carrots, tomatoes, beans. Cultivation with cabbage is not recommended.

Climate and exposure

It prefers cool temperate climates, even if it shows a good resistance to cold. Fears drought. During the cold months the ideal exposure is always full sun. If instead we grow the ramol in other periods we can position it even where it is a little more sheltered. Especially in the Center-South, partially shaded positions are more pleasant during the summer, especially during the hottest afternoon hours. The flavor will also benefit, which otherwise might be too spicy.

The horseradish harvest

It occurs when the roots have reached such a size that they can be traded.
It is necessary not to postpone its eradication, since the flavor of the pulp may be altered.
The harvest takes place from two to four months after sowing, depending on the period of cultivation. The minimum weight is around 100 grams, but it depends a lot on the specific variety. It is important that the root is well crunchy and firm, as well as rich in taste. If it is still soft, rich in liquids and not very aromatic, wait at least a week.
Proceed by extracting the roots from the ground using a pitchfork. They should therefore be cleaned and left to dry in the sun for at least a day, finally cutting the leaves.

Plant sowing From February to November
Sowing on a warm bed From November to February
Collection From two to four months after sowing


The ravioli in this respect is rather tolerant. To have excellent results it is however good to work it carefully, turning and crumbling the clods up to at least 30 cm of depth and freeing it from any roots and stones. It is in fact important that your taproot does not encounter obstacles during growth: they could cause malformations or completely block development.
It is also important to guarantee a substrate capable of quickly getting rid of excess water, while remaining slightly damp and fresh for a long time. To achieve this it is always good to improve the texture by distributing abundant organic soil conditioners (also in conjunction with previous crops) and to avoid areas that are too clayey and heavy.
To overcome a poorly draining soil you can set up bumps, at least 15 cm high, on top of which to insert our cultivation. In this way the drainage of excess water will be favored.

Dill sprouting

The ramolaccio is not a demanding vegetable from this point of view. It can easily grow by exploiting what is left of the fertilizers prepared for the previous crops. It is in fact inserted in the plots to close the crop cycles, even after very demanding plants such as the solanaceae.
We also keep in mind that an excess of nitrogen is very often the cause of cracks in the roots.

Watering and irrigation

Watering must be regular. The soil must therefore always be moist, but it is absolutely necessary to avoid water stagnation because it could cause the onset of rot in the root or at the level of the collar.
On the contrary, the dryness of the substrate is not recommended because it favors the onset of an extremely pungent, spicy and bitter taste.

Crop care

The ravioli grows with good autonomy.
Keeping the plot free of weeds is always important to prevent them from choking our crop, as well as stealing water and nourishment. In the early days, however, it is good to eliminate them by working with great care, especially near the collar: the ideal is to dedicate oneself very often (in order to always eradicate newly sprouted specimens) and only using the hands.
On reaching a height of 15 cm, you can instead start using tools to hoe the soil, freeing it and making it at the same time more penetrable to water.

Protection from the cold

During the winter, in order to prevent extremely cold temperatures (below -10 ° C) from damaging the crop, it is advisable to prepare a thick mulching layer of straw, leaves or, if necessary, spread one, especially during the night, one or multiple layers of non-woven fabric. These operations are not necessary if the ground is covered by at least 15 cm of snow. This, in fact, has an excellent insulating power and is sufficient to protect both the roots and the aerial part from cold winds and frosts.

Pests and diseases

The ruddy is usually quite healthy. In the early stages of cultivation, especially in spring and autumn, it may become prey to snails and slugs. To combat them you can use beer-based traps or set up barriers with ash, corn flour or eggshells. Only in extreme cases do we use special products, paying the utmost attention to whether there are pets or children.
Another rather frequent enemy is the altisa: a small beetle that attacks the foliage creating small holes. In the event of strong attacks, there may be an obvious reduction in growth. Their presence is massive with dry and warm weather. A good way to prevent this problem is to engage in frequent watering and keep the soil always slightly damp.
Other parasites, less harmful, are: the mole cricket, the aphids, the moth, the white fly. There are also cases of downy mildew, mosaic, hernia, pitting and white rust.


The ravioli is well preserved even for a long time. In the special compartment for vegetables in the fridge they can remain well crispy and compact for about a week. If we want to preserve them more we should put them in a box and cover them with damp sand. Let's put them in a cool, airy and not damp place.

Horseradish, Ramolaccio: Variety of sprigs

Some very well known varieties are: the white of Russia, the long thick black in winter, the Mьnchner Bier, the black round in winter. Also interesting are the round white of summer, the white of Strasbourg, the Black Spanish Long. Among the Orientals we mention Okhura, with a delicate flavor, the Chinese Rose, Ilka, and the Tsukushi spring cross.

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