Pesach is almost here which means it’s the perfect time to plant your Marror – for next year’s Seder!

This is the plant only six weeks after planting. Yes, it grows fast!

Horseradish is super easy to grow and is started from a piece of the root itself, which most of us will have in our homes in the immediate future. So now’s the time!

Here’s how:

Step 1. When you get your horseradish before Seder night, cut off one piece of at least 2 inches long. It can be small a scraggly piece. Save the juiciest ones for your Hillel sandwich!

Step 2. Fill up a pot with soil and plant the root, covering them with a few centimeters of soil. Water well every day.

Step 3. Within 2 weeks, you should be seeing the fleshy leaves of increasing size. By Shavous you should have a large plant. This plant grows fast! Just don’t forget to water every day or two in hot weather.

The leaves get really big, especially if you move it into a bigger pot.

Step 4. If you want fat roots, move it to a bigger receptacle or bin (with drainage holes drilled) with a lot more soil.

Step 5. Erev Pesach 2024: harvest your own organic marror! Forget paying 35 shekel/kg at the supermarket! Just word of warning: homegrown horseradish is HOT! You will certainly be experiencing the bitterness of slavery!

Don’t forget to separate Trumos and Maaseros before eating it! Failing to do so is the kashrus equivelent of eating a ham sandwich! It’s really not hard to do, and is a nice mitzvah in itself!

Step 6. Save one piece of root and re-plant immediately for next year.

Homegrown horseradish roots, ready for peeling and slicing and serving on Seder night.

Is Horseradish a Weed?

Some people will tell you that horseradish is a weed because gardeners all over the world complain the roots spread and take over their gardens.

However, here in Israel I don’t believe it is a weed because it cannot survive our summer without careful watering. This year I killed mine when I went away for a three weeks in August.

Luckily a friend let me dig up a root from hers and I planted again in October – so this year we will have just a small amount. Thankfully a little bit of homegrown horseradish is more than enough to make you cry!

Bonus Tip: Wild Maror is Freely Available Everywhere

Most people these days use Romaine Lettuce for their maror on their Seder table. We all buy it in large quantities wrapped in tons of plastic and grown with scary amounts of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. We try not to think about such things!

But did you know that the ancestor of Romaine Lettuce is a plant called Wild Lettuce, that grows freely all across urban Israel at this time of year? Some Torah authorities maintain that Wild Lettuce (AKA חסת המצפן) is even preferable to cultivated Romaine Lettuce, because it is actually bitter (though not unbearably so at this season).

Wild Lettuce is growing in gardens, nature stips and cracks in the pavement all over urban Israel right now. This one was spotted by our back gate. Note its distinctive reddish central stem and deeply serated leaves. When you break the stem, a white milky liquid oozes, which is apparently one of the signs that it is true maror. That sap is also said to have pain-relieveing properties.

Note: There is no requirement to seperate Trumos and Maaseros from wild foraged plants. No ham sandwhiches to worry about here!

If you are not sure whether you should use Wild Lettuce for the mitzvah of eating maror on Seder night, ask your Rabbi.

Even if you choose not to use it, it’s fun to spot the grandaddy of all your lettuce salads. It has medicinal properities too!

Happy Pesach Prep!

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