Wondering About Watercress

September 21, 2017
Wondering About Watercress
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!