Growing watercress in home garden is not a new idea. Home gardeners are growing watercress for a long time and it is actually among the oldest leaf vegetable consumed by humans. Growing watercress is very easy and you can also start growing if you can keep the plants in shaded area and if they have plenty of water.
Watercress (Nasturtium officinale) is actually a rapidly growing, aquatic or semi-aquatic perennial plant in the family Brassicaceae which is native to Asia and Europe. And it is one of the oldest known leaf vegetables consumed by humans. Watercress is botanically related to radish, mustard, garden cress and wasabi. It is also called as ‘yellowcress‘ in some areas.
The watercress plants have hollow stems which will float, and the leaf structure is pinnately compound. Small, white and green flowers are produced in clusters and are frequently visited by insects, especially hoverflies (such as Eristalis flies).
The main advantages of growing watercress in home garden is ‘it is a very nutritious vegetable and very good for health’. It is rich in calories and vitamin K, but also contains significant amounts of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B6, riboflavin, calcium and manganese. It is low in carbohydrates, fat, dietary fiber and protein. And raw watercress is 95 percent water.
However, you can enjoy this popular and old vegetable if you start growing watercress organically in your home garden. All you have to do for growing watercress is ‘you have to arrange fresh, moving water source in your home garden’.
How to Grow Watercress
Growing watercress in home garden is very easy as long as the plants are shaded from the hot afternoon sun and have plenty of water. Making a small pond will be better for growing watercress in your home garden. Here we are describing more information about growing watercress organically in home garden from planting, caring to harvesting.
Select a Location
First of all, select a good location within your garden where you can start growing watercress. If possible make a small water source (such as a tiny pond) inside your garden, and ensure constant water supply into it. But if you already have a water feature within your property, then you can start growing watercress there.
Preparing the Soil
The watercress plants will grow well in almost everywhere. The watercress plants generally grow well in partially submerged in running water and flooded areas in moderately cool climates. By the way, if you don’t have a good water feature, then you can also grow watercress if you can keep the soil wet consistently. Don’t forget to add some organic contents into the soil while preparing the soil for growing watercress.
Best Time for Growing Watercress
The watercress plants can be grown throughout the year, except excessive hot and cool temperatures. They grow well in moderately cool climates.
The watercress plants can be grown in may different ways. They can be grown from seeds, transplants and cuttings. If you can arrange transplants or cuttings then you are ready to go. But if these are not available in your area, then you have to purchase the seeds. The seeds are easily available in most gardening supply stores and nurseries. You can also consider ordering the seeds online.
As we have mentioned above, the watercress plants can be grown from seeds, transplants and cuttings. Planting cutting or transplants is the easiest way for growing watercress. You can purchase the cuttings or transplants if those are available in your local nurseries or garden centers.
But for growing watercress from seeds, just spread the tiny seeds over the prepared bed. Keep the bed moist, but not covered with water and the seeds will germinate within a few days (most probably within 5 days). Then transplant the seedlings to about 8 inches apart.
Taking additional care will help the watercress plants to grow well. Here we are describing more about the caring process for growing watercress in home garden.
Fertilizing: The watercress plants don’t require additional fertilizing. You are okay if you already have prepared the soil by adding some organic contents into it. Although, you can apply a complete soluble fertilizer for better growth of the plants.
Watering: The watercress plants require wet soil. So you have to water the bed almost daily if you don’t have a water body (such as small pond, lake etc.).
Mulching and Controlling Weeds: For growing watercress in home garden without water source facility, you have to mulch the bed heavily for retaining moisture into the soil. Also hand control the weeds if you notice any.
Thinning: If you are growing watercress from seeds, then thin the seedlings to about 8-12 inches apart.
Pests and Diseases
Diseases are relatively less in the watercress plants. But you may notice some pests such as snails, waterflies, spider mites etc. Especially, the snails love watercress and you should remove them by hand or trap them. Apply insecticidal soap or soapy water for controlling whiteflies or other insects.
You can start harvesting watercress when the plants reach your desired size. But remember, ‘the flavor of the watercress is best during the cool months of the year’. And the flavor is compromised once the plant blossoms. You can start harvesting when the plants reach about 5-6 inches in height. Periodic harvesting helps to encourage new growth.
These are the common ways for growing watercress in home garden. Hope you have enjoyed this guide! Good luck and happy gardening 🙂