How to Grow Cress
How to Grow Cress
Cress – Lepidium sativum
Is the plain leaved or common cress which is easy to grow in trays or pots, or on the greenhouse bench in beds of finely sifted. The curled or double cress is preferred by some gardeners.
Seed can be sown under glass during the autumn and winter when it will provide valuable salad material while it is also in demand during the spring and summer.
Known in Britain for over 400 years it was at one time valued for the medicinal properties m the seed while it has food value, since it contains vitamins C and B1. It is also useful for green manuring.
Cress should be sown four days before if both crops are to mature together. A minimum temperature of 500 °C is suitable and a fine, fairly rich nicely moist should be used. The seeds need only be pressed in and not covered with soil. After sowing place damp paper or hessian over the receptacles or seed beds, removing it as soon as growth is seen. This prevents the surface soil from drying out and encourages germination.
Sufficient moisture must always be available. If the compost is nicely moist at sowing time, no further watering need be done again until theare growing well.
Where small quantities are needed it is possible to sow seed directly into small punnets or pots. Seed can also be sown outdoors on prepared sites, although there is a greater possibility of grittiness. Slightlyhelp to avoid this.
American or Land Cress – Barbarea praecox
This is an excellent substitute for. In spite of its name it is a native of Britain and hardly known in America. It does not require water in the same way as the normal watercress and is much easier to manage. This crop appreciates semi-shade and does well on a north border. It succeeds in town gardens and in damp situations not tolerated by other vegetables.
A seed bed having plenty of organic material should be made up. Bring the surface to a fine tilth and broadcast or sow the seed in drills 15 to 20cm apart. First sowings can be made in early spring to give pickings from midsummer onwards.
Use the tender, young, leafy shoots and keep the soil moist for continued production. Seed of American or Belle Isle perennial cress, can also be sown in summer, the plants wintered under well ventilated frames for early spring pickings. Protection may be necessary during severe weather and care is needed in regard to watering.
A less common variety known as Australian cress has pointed leaves of a mild, agreeable flavour.
Landcress often known as American cress, can be grown in the open ground preferably in cool, partially shaded beds. The top soil should contain plenty ofso that it retains moisture.