Growing watercress can be both easy and beneficial as this perennial has the healthy component lutein that helps prevent coronary artery diseases and heart attacks. Moreover, watercress has many culinary and decorative uses.
How to Grow Watercress In Water
Contrary to popular opinion, one does not need a flowing stream for growing watercress and watercress lettuce can be grown if you want to conserve water. It can be easily grown indoors a few weeks before the last frost, by placing the watercress seeds on a moist paper towel that has been previously soaked in water and now placed in a shallow bowl, with about a quarter inch of standing water. An easier method of germinating watercress seeds is to use stem cuttings and placing them in a bucket of water or a black polythene bag. To grow watercress in this way, the water should be changed everyday as stagnant water spells death for the watercress seeds. The seeds germinate 7-10 days later.
Planting Watercress Lettuce
Once the watercress seeds have germinated, they should be planted in individual pots. After 3 weeks the watercress lettuce seeds may be transplanted in the soil. The fine and delicate roots must be carefully handled while planting watercress in the soil after the season of frost. The watercress plant should be kept in damp soil and in the shade. Moist soil, limestone and organic compost should be used to grow watercress. The challenge is in keeping the plant in damp, but not soaked soil. Growing watercress stems should be kept about 8″-10″ apart from each other.
Harvesting Watercress Lettuce
The growing watercress lettuce sends runners from the mother plant and once they have grown they can be harvested. The older watercress should be cut back to about 10 cm when it will start sprouting new leaves. When pruned in late spring, the watercress plant will be ready for a second round of harvest in the fall. The tastiest watercress leaves are found in spring and fall, the hot summer reducing the plant’s beneficiary nature. Harvesting should be carried out before the flowers bloom. Leaves gathered can be refrigerated for about a week.
Watercress Lettuce: Pests and Diseases
Watercress planters can breathe easy as this plant is free of most pests and diseases. However, flea beetles or mustard beetles may afflict the growing watercress plant. They can be removed by flooding the cropping beds for about 2 hours.
Why Grow Watercress
Growing watercress is fairly uncomplicated for a gardener because you do not require much technical gardening knowledge on how to grow watercress, much the same as growing basil. In addition to the ease of growing watercress, the plant also serves some other purposes such as:
- Watercress lettuce, cut into small pieces may be added in salads and sandwiches to provide a delicious flavor.
- Watercress soup treats mouth blisters, swollen gums, foul teeth and bad breath.
- Watercress lettuce is loaded with vitamins and low in calories, making it a good healthy perennial.
- Phytochemicals and antioxidants in watercress fight cancer and protect the immune system.
Watercress, known for its peppery taste is a ‘superfood’ because of its high nutrient properties. While Persians fed it to their children to increase their strength and stature, it is known to cure coughs, colds and even help in the metabolic processes of the body.
1. Growing Watercress - Simple Gifts Farm