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Wondering About Watercress

July 6, 2011

Credit: J. Stillman
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The fun of gardening, to me, is trying to grow something different, as well as planting reliable favorites. That enthusiasm took over at the annual seed-buying potluck supper that my community garden members have every January. That’s when I bought watercress seeds.

I didn’t know the first thing about growing watercress.

The catalog (Fedco’s) indicated that the seeds could be sown in a soggy stream bank or in a pot. That seemed like two very different methods, so when it came time to plant, I opted for a combination—a birdbath. Being shallow and able to hold an inch or so of soil and water, I thought it would be something like a soggy bank.

As you can see, it worked—the seeds set!

But not without some difficulty. One day, I left the birdbath outside on the deck. A rain shower caused an overflow, carrying away some seedlings. Later, I lost a few more when I poured off excess water to keep the seedlings from drowning.

Another day, I put the birdbath out with, it seems, too little water. A patch of seedlings (look near the middle) collapsed.

Now, I keep the birdbath in a sheltered area if rain is forecast and I won’t be home to move it indoors and I manage the water flow, keeping the soil moist.

Harvest is a long way off, but if I get one salad—ok, one tea sandwich—from this experiment, I’ll be happy . . . and game to try it again.

What are you experimenting with this growing season? And do tell: If you’ve ever grown watercress, please share your experience—and advice!

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Janice Stillman joined the Almanac as editor in 2000. When she is not working the words, she enjoys peddling a bicycle, growing things to eat, cooking, and handcrafts (especially knitting because needles and yarn can be taken anywhere).

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By the way, in reference to

By Sandra Queen

By the way, in reference to watercress, my daughter planted actual watercress plants in my branch flowing from a natural spring that we use for drinking water. The first two years she harvested it by the bunch and sold it to local restaurants. It eventually took over the branch for quite a distance downstream and we had to remove it from the stream. Just for you to know, it spreads rapidly. S Queen

Thanks for this advice,

By Almanac Staff

Thanks for this advice, Sandra.

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