Watercress is a salad crop with a peppery taste - used in salads, as a garnish and popular as watercress soup .
This healthy salad plant is best grown in a stream of pure running water with a good gritty bed.
However many people have success growing watercress in a container.
Whichever way that you grow watercress the basics of starting the plants off are the same - you can grow from seed, or from rooted shoots of watercress.
To grow watercress plants from seed lay a paper towel in a shallow bowl and moisten it.
Lay the watercress seeds on the moist towel and make sure that the seeds are kept damp - a quarter inch of water in the bottom of the bowl should be enough.
If kept at a temperature of about 60F, the watercresss seeds should germinate in 10 days.
Transplant the watercress seedlings into individual peat pots and grow on for 3 weeks before setting the plants outside.
You can buy bunches of watercress from a farm shop or supermarket. Some of the stalks may have roots left on - these can be planted out.
If you do not have any watercress stalks with roots you can produce roots using the follwing method:
Place the watercress stems in a container of fresh water.
Change the water each day - during this time discard any stems that turn yellow.
In a few days you should see new roots appearing on the watercress stalks.
Vigorous shoots of Watercress, 15 inches long, should be placed evenly over the surface of the bed of the stream in March.
If the water is then gradually admitted these shoots will form roots in a few days, when more water can be let in as the plants become established, but care must be taken not to admit the water too rapidly or the plants will be torn from their young roots.
The watercress will be ready for cutting about August.
Provided the soil is kept very moist watercress can be grown in deep trenches, the seed being sown in May.
By growing Brown Winter Cress, which is planted in August or September, watercress may be had almost all the year round.
Fill a container with rich compost - any deep plastic container is suitable.
A plastic container is best for growing watercress - terracotta dries out too quickly.
Make sure that the container has drainage holes in the bottom. If the container cannot drain, the compost becomes stagnant and your watercress will rot.
Water the compost until it is saturated then plant your rooted watercress plants using a dibber to make holes.
Place the container with your watercress plants in the shade.
Water the plants daily. When the plants have become established feed every 7 - 10 days.
Simply cut stems of watercress as you need them for salad or soup!
Watercress leaves can kept fresh for about 7 days in a bowl of water in the fridge
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Growing watercress - how to grow watercress from seed or cuttings in a container or in a stream