Growing Cress Is One Of Life's Simple Joys
To some, growing cress is a business, to others it is a kitchen hobby. Cress, particularly what we call garden cress, is an extremely easy plant to grow, and a good way to get young people started with a first garden.
Young children particularly enjoy growing cress because it grows so quickly. If you place some cress seeds on moist tissue paper, tiny roots can be seen the next day, and growth of the seedlings can be monitored on a daily basis. The young gardener can sample the taste of his or her crop in a few days, certainly in a week's time. At this stage of growth, cress sprouts or seedlings can be used as a garnish, in a salad, or in a sandwich. Cress has a slightly tangy or peppery taste.
Cress Grows Anywhere There's Moisture - Garden cress can be grown on a piece of tissue, in a small tray, a windowsill planter, a pot or container, or in the garden. The results are the same for the first week or so. When growing cress in the garden, the seedlings are usually thinned out, and the leaves are harvested during the growing season. The plant can reach a height of about 12 inches. When planted out of doors, succession crop planting is often done, with plantings being spaced about 2 weeks apart. Cress grows well in the cooler spring and autumn months. It grows well in the summer also but often becomes bitter tasting in hot weather. When this happens, most gardeners simply wait for the weather to cool down, then plant a new crop.
Not The End OF The World - Growing cress has one very nice feature in that a crop failure won't put you in the position of having to sell the farm. Whether you have a couple of acres, or a container on the patio, in the event of a crop failure, you simply reseed, and the cress is ready to harvest again in 2 to 3 weeks. Of course if you have to replant several acres, there is a cost involved, but the situation isn't as bad as it would be if you had planted wheat or corn.
A Number Of Varieties - There are several varieties of cress besides the more common garden cress, which is also known as pepper grass. Watercress, which grows naturally in pools and streams, is also used as a sandwich filling and as a salad green. Pennycress and Rock cress are grown mostly in rock gardens for ornamental purposes. There are several other varieties of cress, most of which are edible, but seldom placed in cultivation. Cress is quite nutritious, being an excellent source of vitamins A, B9 and C, and a good source of iron, calcium, protein and dietary fiber.
Either Broadcast Or Plant In Rows - When growing cress in the garden, the seeds can be broadcast or sown in rows. Broadcasting the seeds over a small area may be preferable if it primarily the young sprouts you're interested in. If you plan on harvesting the leaves for use as a salad green, plant the cress in rows, eventually thinning the plants out to about 8 inches apart. Even a short row of one foot high cress plants will provide plenty of leaves for your dinner table.
The soil needs to be kept moist. Cress is not drought tolerant, and will do poorly if the soil becomes too dry. Once in a while, individual plants, or even the entire crop, can become moldy. When this happens, simply pull up the affected plants and sow a new crop if needed. Once frost hits, your cress growing season has come to a halt, unless of course you have a planter in the kitchen window, or a small pot anywhere there is good light. In that case you can grow cress all winter long.