Thursday, July 21, 2016
When we think of where watercress grows, babbling brooks and country streams springs to mind. The main requirement for watercress is a damp environment. So how many of you have thought I can't grow it at home? I know for a while I did. But now I have discovered that you don't need a pond in or a stream running through your backyard in order to grow this peppery delight.
First decide on the type of watercress that you want to grow, I'm growing a large leaf variety which has a mild peppery taste. Then fill a pot with good seed sowing mix.
I sowed my seeds of watercress at the end of autumn. I chose to use a terra-cotta pot as these clay pots are porous and so allow good air circulation for the roots. Sprinkle the seed in sparsely in order to give the developing seedlings room for growth and sift over a light covering of soil. Water your pot carefully so as not to disturbed the seeds. (Just a tip, if you are going to use clay pots, soak them in water first, that way they will not suck all the water out of your soil.)
Then I stood the pot in a small saucer of water and placed it in my greenhouse. From then on I kept the water topped up in the saucer. It wasn't long before my seedlings appeared. If you don't have a greenhouse, then a plastic propagator tray and lid will do just fine. Just position it in a warm spot.
I allowed these seedlings to grow on, making sure that their water supply never ran out and when they reached a reasonable size, I potted them on into their final growing pot, using premium potting mix and again a clay pot.
At this point I moved them out of my
greenhouse and put them in a sheltered spot outside to harden off, before moving them to their winter growing position. Remember to keep the saucer full of water.
I left them in this hardening off position for about three weeks before choosing a spot where they get the winter sunshine. Watercress can tolerate the winter sunshine but in summer you need to find them a shadier spot where the harsher sunshine does not burn their leaves.
That's all there is to growing it at home. Just remember to keep their saucer full of water and to pick the leaves when they are young and tender, but don't forget to not strip the plant so that it can make new tasty growth.
Follow these simple instructions and you too will be picking your own tasty watercress for salads and sandwiches. - Happy Gardening!
All photographs shown in this post are my own.