If you’re a salad lover, chances are you’re familiar with watercress. Because this plant thrives in clear, slow-flowing water, many habby gardeners find it unsuitable for their outdoor space. The fact of the matter is, watercress is very adaptable and can be grown in a variety of ways. Growing watercress is also not difficult. Read on to learn how to plant and care for the healthy supper herb in the garden or at home!
Learn how to grow watercress in your garden or at home
Watercress is an extremely healthy plant!
What is watercress?
watercress (Nasturtium officinale) is a cruciferous vegetable from the family of Brassicaceae, which also includes broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, turnips, and Brussels sprouts, as well as kale, mustard, and collard greens. It’s known for its peppery, slightly bitter flavor that’s similar to vegetables like arugula, broccoli, dandelion greens, and mustard. Watercress is often used in salads, where its refreshing flavor contrasts with other, milder-tasting greens. It is also common to boil the vegetable and this helps to tone down its spicy flavor.
Watercress is an aquatic plant that produces small to medium green leaves on hollow, crisp stems that are also edible
Why is watercress so healthy?
Watercress is rich in potassium, one of the most important minerals in the human body. Potassium helps regulate heart rate, salt levels, blood pressure, and even bone health. The herb is also an excellent source of vitamins A, C, beta-carotene, and other carotenoids known to be powerful antioxidants.
Watercress is rich in vitamins and contains over 50 essential vitamins and minerals
Can you grow watercress in the garden?
You can always plant your watercress in your garden if you have a pond. However, the herb can also be grown in containers outdoors or even on a windowsill. Plant or sow watercress seeds and place the pot in a deep saucer filled with water. Always keep the saucer topped up with rainwater whenever possible. Place the container in a bright, sunny spot and watch your watercress grow!
Although watercress is a perennial plant, when grown in pots it should be treated as an annual
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What do you need to consider if you want to grow watercress in your garden?
Young plants can suffer from a sudden change in temperature, so it’s best to give them acclimatization over a few days. If you’re growing watercress in pots, keep the seedlings indoors until the first frost-free date. Transplant watercress seedlings outdoors from spring when average daily temperatures are between 10 and 15°C, or start the seeds indoors and transplant them outside once the plants are established.
Seeds need this temperature range to germinate successfully
Watercress seeds can be sown directly on the edges of ponds as long as the soil is saturated as it grows naturally in such an environment. If you’re using store-bought plants for your pond, simply place the plants in water pots filled with peat-free garden soil and sand, and covered with gravel to prevent the growing medium from floating away.
Watercress does not tolerate stagnant conditions that encourage bacterial growth. To avoid this, rinse your pots (if you’ve been growing watercress in pots) at least twice a week by simply removing the trivet and filling the container with fresh water to allow the excess to drain.
Fill the pot tray with clean water to keep the soil moist
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Growing and caring for watercress at home
Even if you don’t have a garden, you can grow watercress as a microgreen in a pot on a windowsill at any time of the year. Perhaps the easiest way to do this is to plant seeds or roots from cuttings in a 30-40 cm wide clay pot with holes in the bottom. Fill the container with a mixture of nutrient-rich soil, sand, and pebbles. You can also use a mixture of equal parts perlite or vermiculite and peat.
Place the pot in a 43 cm wide saucer filled with 5 cm of water.
In early spring sow the seeds thinly about 0.6 cm deep on the fine herbal soil
You can also grow watercress from cuttings. Remove the last pair of leaves from the stem and bury the knot under the potting soil. The final spacing of seedlings or cuttings should be 20 cm. Place the pot in full sun. Pour water into the saucer every day and completely change the water once or twice a week.
Change the water more frequently in hot weather. Renew the pots every two years, clean the pots and change the soil.
Watercress is sensitive to excessive temperatures and to preserve them in the summer and avoid heat shock, gardening experts suggest placing several ice cubes in the saucer daily to keep the water cool.
There are a number of methods for growing watercress and mastering them is not difficult