Nasturtium Officinale (Watercress). No need for too much blah, blah on how to grow watercress because it is actually very easy to cultivate and almost unaided at that!
My first attempt at growing this common hardy salad perennial was in a hydroponic unit. It presented no problems what-so-ever. In fact, I was quite amazed at the speed it grew and spread, seeking to put down roots anywhere.
I pinched and pruned regularly to contain the sprawl and placed a cutting in a shallow container of water just to see the development of some flower buds that were appearing.
An extensive root system soon filled the container even without the presence of nutrients. This taught me that watercress is a strong resilient and prolific plant.
Growing watercress in a hydroponic unit requires very little. All you need do is sprinkle a few seeds on top of some water-soaked growing media without fertilizer and keep it under grow lights.
The herb prefers slightly alkaline water so take it from the tap.
The seeds will quickly sprout. Once the seedling reaches 3 or 4 cm, either add fertilizer according to the manufacturers guidelines and keep harvesting, or transplant it where you want it to grow.
Watercress naturally grows in or need running water. Use a bubbler in a hydroponic unit to mimic its natural environment or change the water frequently.
If the watercress is for your mini pond you can use a small fountain to create movement, but don't attempt to eat the herb from this source.
No doubt about it, watercress is a water-based herb so the plan is to keep the environment very wet.
Sow a few seeds in a shallow pot of wet compost. Place the pot in a dish of water and don't allow the water to dry up, changing it daily in summer if circumstances allow.
Place it in a light, dappled place but not in direct sunlight. Harvest to keep it from becoming leggy and to encourage dense foliage.
With a hot peppery taste, adding it to salads and soups will give the dish a bit of a bite. For an appetite stimulant for dinner guests chop up watercress leaves plucked from the top of the plant and serve as a garnish with sliced tomato, lettuce, and cucumber. Not only is this part of the herb an appetite stimulant, it's a bile stimulant as well, helping us to better digest our food.
What other health benefit secrets does this common, humble herb hold? It contains super abundant levels of Vitamin C, E, A and Iron. Fantastic! But beware! Eating too much can irritate the urinary tract, so keep it balanced! You want just enough to give your diet a boost.
Growing watercress in my mini-pond didn`t present any problems either. It survived the cold winter and has sprung up again this year with taller flower stalks. The pond is always shaded by surrounding plants so the pond stays quite cool all day.
One of the drawbacks of having a shallow pond is that I always have to keep topping up with fresh water, which helps the watercress but can be a pain especially when I want to go on vacation.
I am thinking to change
to a much deeper pond. Not only will it attract snail predators such
as newts, toads and frogs to the herb garden, but the deeper water
will prevent mosquito larvae breeding there and save me the burden of topping up constantly.
Hint of Herbs is where you will get to know me a whole lot better as I busy about in my daily life. Read short snippets of herb garden related topics. Little interesting things that don`t normally find their way onto my pages.
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