How to grow watercress?

Watercress and Our 10 Favorite Ways to Use It

Every week we get Down & Dirty, in which we break down our favorite unique seasonal fruits, vegetables, and more.

Today: The delicate green with a not-so-delicate flavor.

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Watercress is one of the oldest leafy greens consumed by humans, and like so many other vegetables, it has had its fair share of purported benefits throughout the years. In 75 Exceptional Herbs, Jack Staub says that the vitamin and nutrient content of watercress and other cresses meant that, historically, they were thought to boost brain power—hence an ancient Greek proverb urging to “eat cress, and learn more wit.” But perhaps the best claim comes from Francis Bacon at the turn of the seventeenth century. The English philosopher and scientist said: “The eating of watercress doth restore the wanted bloom to the cheeks of old-young ladies.” What’s next? An anti-aging cream with watercress extract?

As its name suggests, watercress is an aquatic (or semi-aquatic) member of the Brassicaceae family. And like other family members with a bite (think arugula, wasabi, and horseradish), watercress’s delicate leafy greens pack a peppery punch. As Deborah Madison notes, “This is hardly a timid family.”

You should be able to find rubber-banded bunches of watercress in a well-stocked grocery store year-round. You’ll likely have to hang tight for a few more weeks until you can pick it up at your farmers market, though. But when the time arrives, and if you’re lucky, you might also find some vendors offering small-leaved wild watercress. Deborah Madison says: “When that happens, it’s a shame to do anything with it but eat it as a salad.”

A taste of wild watercress from the farmers market might have you hooked. If you get the urge to start foraging, resist it: It’s best to leave the procuring of wild watercress to the experts. Author and food critic Florence Fabricant shares a lesson learned from Andy Brown, a partner at B&W Quality Growers, the world’s largest grower of watercress: “Eating wild watercress can be as risky as nibbling a foraged mushroom. It’s not the watercress, he said; it’s the environment. To be safe, the plants, which actually grow in water, must be right at the source of a spring before it can be contaminated by parasites carried by tiny snails or livestock or other animals. In some areas, wild cress may also absorb high levels of heavy metals, like copper.” Note that this caution applies to foraging for wild watercress, not to the watercress you buy in a store.

More: Learn more about where the wild foods are—and what to do with them.

You might also come across the related land cress (also called upland cress, among other names). It makes a fine substitute for watercress and, depending on your penchant for a spicy bite, it might be a better choice for some applications. Deborah Madison notes: “Land cresses, and there are a number of them, are far more peppery than the now rather tame hydroponically grown watercress that one buys, its roots still intact and much of its fire put out.”

Most watercress that you pick up at the grocery store will have large, round leaves (1). Look for dark green, perky bunches of watercress, and avoid any that are yellowing, wilting, or slimy.

To store watercress, treat it like a soft-stemmed herb (like parsley, cilantro, and basil) and store it in the fridge in a jar of water loosely covered in plastic. When you’re ready to use it, you’ll most likely want to cut off the tough part of the stem (2, below), leaving only the tender stems. (If you’ll be stir-frying the watercress, it’s fine to leave them as is.)

Watercress is a versatile little vegetable: You can use it anywhere you’d use an assertive green, or you can treat it more like a herb. Here are 10 ideas to get you started:

  • Pair watercress with seafood like squid, trout, sardines, or tuna.
  • Its peppery nature mixes well with meat, too. Try Amanda Hesser’s All-in-One Salad with lamb, chicken, and salumi, or stick to one meat at a time and use watercress in a grilled flank steak salad.
  • Blend it into a sauce or soup.
  • Or, make a watercress purée. Fun fact: The first time Amanda’s then boyfriend, now husband cooked dinner for her, he made a purée of peas and watercress.

More: Anxious to hear more? Read Cooking for Mr. Latte for more of Amanda Hesser’s love story.

  • Use watercress to make pesto, and then put that pesto on a pizza.
  • Add it to noodle dishes, like pad Thai.
  • Add watercress to any green salad, or let it be the sole green in the salad, like in Maricel E. Presilla’s Cuban Avocado, Watercress, and Pineapple Salad.
  • Watercress makes a great addition to pasta salads, too.
  • Use watercress in the green sauce for Oysters Rockefeller.
  • Try using watercress in your next juice blend.

You’ll want to keep using watercress once warmer weather arrives, too. Come summertime, pair watercress with corn, melon, and peaches.

Tell us: How do you like to use watercress?

Photos by Bobbi Lin

Almost everyone would like to be taller. However, many young men and women of below-average height think their shorter stature is inherited and is thus entirely out of their control. This, in fact, is not true. According to Scientific American, only 60 to 80 percent of a person’s final height is due to genetics; the other 20 to 40 percent is due to environmental factors and lifestyle choices. In other words, making good decisions while you’re young really can help you grow taller.

Furthermore, it may not be too late for you. For most people, the growth plates that control height close in their early- to mid-teens. But in some cases, these plates remain open into their late teens and even early 20s. (One of the most famous examples of this is NBA Hall-of-Famer David Robinson, who was 6′ 7″ when he enrolled at the U.S. Naval Academy and 7′ 1″ when he graduated four years later.) We’ve looked at some of the healthy ways to add height for pre-teens, teens and young adults who want to be taller.

Proper Diet

Do you think you know the correct regular diet that you need to follow every day in order to grow taller? Okay, ask yourself a simple question now: what is my favorite food and drink? If your answer includes anything like the following: sandwiches, hamburgers, fries, pizza, pasta, bread, cereal, rice, cookies, cake, candy, ice cream, chicken, pork, beef, Coke, Pepsi, beer or coffee…then forget about growing taller and think about growing heavier instead. You are eating and drinking the completely wrong kinds of food and beverage that can only help you gain more weight instead of height!

The correct diet you need to grow taller is a proper combination of proteins, vitamins and minerals. So your regular diet should be rich in these three types of nutrients. A common regular diet that will stunt height growth is one that includes too many carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are usually rich in foods like rice, bread, potatoes, corn and other cereal grains. You should avoid eating too many carbohydrates since they contain lots of energy (calories) but few vital nutrients that can help your body grow. This is actually why Asian people are shorter on average than European and American people. Asian diets mainly consist of carbohydrate heavy foods like rice or corn while European and American people consume much more protein-rich foods. So do not make rice, bread, potatoes or cereal grains your main foods if you want to grow taller!

Another common diet that will stunt height and growth is one that includes too many lipids (fats). There are two main types of fats: saturated fats and unsaturated fats. Saturated fats are mostly bad since they have high levels of cholesterol; this can cause heart disease because arteries could be clogged with fatty material. These fats also contain a large number of calories that can easily increase your weight. Extra weight is the enemy of height, since the more you weight, the shorter you appear. So avoid eating excessive saturated fats. Animal meats such as chicken, pork and beef are rich in saturated fats, so you should avoid eating them too often.

Unsaturated fats are much better for your body since they contain much lower cholesterol and calorie amounts. Since you do need some fats to insulate your body and regulate your metabolism, you’re better off ingesting more unsaturated fats to satisfy your body’s needs. Vegetable oils contain large amounts of unsaturated fats. Commonly used unsaturated vegetable oils are corn, soy, cottonseed and safflower oils. Note that raw milk and butter contains lots of saturated fats; therefore, you should drink skim milk and cook with vegetable oils instead of butter. Sweet foods like cookies, cake and ice cream also have very high saturated fat and calorie contents; therefore, you should restrict yourself from eating them too much.

In order to grow taller, your body needs proteins, vitamins and minerals more readily than carbohydrates and fats. Proteins are composed of one or more chains of amino acids. They are fundamental components of all living cells and include many substances such as enzymes, hormones, and antibodies that are necessary for the proper functioning of an organism. They are essential in animal and mammal diets for the growth and repair of tissue. Thus, you should ingest a large amount of protein if you want to grow taller. The best foods for complete proteins (those that contain the most appropriate distribution of amino acids for growth) are fish, eggs, milk and legumes. These foods contain most of the 20 amino acids that are part of the genetic code, including the nine essential amino acids that are not synthesized by your body. Therefore, replace rice, bread and hamburger with fish, eggs and skim milk!

Proper Sleep

It is during deep sleep that growth hormone does its job of thickening and lengthening your bones. (This hormone has gotten a bad rap as a synthetic performance-enhancing drug, but the version that your body naturally produces is vital for overall health and recovery.) So appropriate sleeping time (not the longer, the better) and correct sleeping posture are very important for your body to grow.

Sleep is defined as a natural periodic state of rest for the mind and body. During this period, the eyes usually close and consciousness is completely or partially lost so there is a decrease in bodily movement and responsiveness to external stimuli. During deep sleep, growth hormone produced by your pituitary gland is released into your bloodstream and travels through your body, causing the thickening and lengthening of your bones. Therefore, you should achieve “deep level” sleep on a daily basis in order to coordinate your exercise and proper diet. The following are some helpful tips on how to easily achieve deep level sleep:

  1. Sleep in a room that is dark, quiet and fresh-smelling. Do not expose yourself to bright light while you are sleeping. Light will make your brain stay awake.
  2. It is important to sleep in a well-ventilated room. Don’t be afraid to open a window, even in winter. It is better to put on an extra wool blanket than to breathe in stale air. The amount of clean oxygen-rich air that you breathe has an effect on your growth. Poor air can cause breathing problems and prevents you from growing during sleep.
  3. Sleep in clean, soft and comfortable clothes. Rough clothing can block blood circulation and make you shift and turn many times during the night, thus preventing deep sleep. Remember, growth hormone can only work well when you fall into deep sleep.
  4. Keep your hands and feet warm. Scientific studies have shown that warm hands and feet will help induce REM (rapid eye movement) deep sleep. Cold hands and feet will keep you from experiencing deep sleep.
  5. Drink a big glass of water before going to bed and when you wake up; this will help clean out your system. Milk can also help you sleep. It contains an amino acid called tryptophan which produces an effect similar to a sedative. Do not consume any food or drink that contains caffeine, nicotine or alcohol for at least 4 to 5 hours before going to bed. Caffeine and nicotine are stimulants that will keep you from sleeping while alcohol can disrupt your body’s natural rhythms. Also, refrain from eating a large meal less than three hours before bedtime.
  6. Doing exercises during the day can help you sleep better at night. This will increase your blood circulation and quicken your metabolism for a whole day, which will help ensure a good night’s sleep.
  7. Taking a hot bath before going to bed helps induce deep sleep because it cleans your body and relaxes tense muscles.
  8. Practice total relaxation and deep breathing for a few minutes before you go to bed. Relax from head to toe. Close your eyes and relax every part of your body. Do complete breathing exercises by following the three phases:
    1. Inhale slowly and deeply through the nose for 3 to 5 seconds, making sure that your stomach expands as well as your chest.
    2. Hold your breath for another 3 to 5 seconds. Tighten your stomach muscles lightly.
    3. Exhale slowly and fully through the mouth and nose. This breathing exercise will help smooth your blood circulation and get your body ready to rest.
  9. Maintain a habit of sleeping at the same time every day, including weekends. This will help you develop a regular rhythm for sleep. Your brain will send you “sleep signal” at about the same time every day, which can help you fall into deep sleep easier and faster.

Each person has his or her own specific daily sleep requirement. It is not true that the more you sleep, the better it is for your growth. Too much sleep will cause your body to develop laziness and slow down your metabolism, thus increasing the danger of weight gain. On average, a young adult who is growing needs at least eight hours of sleep every day. Teens need nine hours or more. However, this is just an average and may not apply to you precisely.

The best way to figure out the exact amount of sleeping time you need is not to calculate it at all. Just go to sleep early every night, do not use an alarm clock and let yourself wake up naturally. Your body has its own biological clock which can determine the exact amount of sleep it needs. As long as you have good sleeping habits and do not break them (by forcing yourself to stay up too late or get up too early), your body will take good care of itself. Also, it is easy for you to detect if you get enough sleep each day. If you are energetic and do not feel sleepy or very tired for the whole day, then you got the right amount of sleep last night. Otherwise, you need to readjust your schedule.

Appropriate sleep posture is also very important for growth. Sleeping with correct posture can help lengthen your spine and increase your height; sleeping with incorrect posture can put strains on your neck, shoulders and back, which stunts growth. The following are some helpful tips on how to sleep with appropriate posture.

  1. Sleep on a comfortable and firm mattress. If it is not firm enough, place a sheet of plywood underneath the mattress. Sleeping on a hard surface will align your spine in the natural position. This will lengthen your spine and also allow growth hormone to easily travel across the body.
  2. Sleep on your back with a flat pillow under your knees. This will align your spine properly and prevent any backaches caused by sleeping in a bent position. Raising your knees and feet slightly will help your brain get more oxygen-rich blood. The more oxygen your brain receives, the more energy you will have to help yourself grow during sleep.
  3. Sleep on your side with your knees bent. This will effectively flatten the back. A flat pillow may be used to support the neck, especially if your shoulders are broad.
  4. Do not use a high pillow. While lying on your back with your head resting on a high pillow, your neck is bent forward and your back is arched in a very unnatural position. This strain your neck, shoulders and back, and also stunts growth since your spinal column is arched for most of the night.
  5. Do not sleep face-down. This will exaggerate swayback and strain the neck and shoulders.

Beating the Disadvantages

Statistics show that a shorter person will encounter most of his or her disadvantages during a job interview or on a date. Taller men/women have a better chance of getting high-paying jobs and it is easier for them to find good dates/mates. It’s just not fair! Fortunately for you, even if you are not as tall as you wish, there are some secret and effective techniques which you can use to beat all of those disadvantages and win your dream job or mate!

  1. Have a hairstyle that makes you appear taller. In order to appear taller, a hairstyle should be thin at the sides and higher up top, which can make you appear as much as an inch taller. Do not have any wide hairstyle. Also, a bald head can make a person appear shorter.
  2. Wear certain clothes that will make you appear taller and avoid those that make you look shorter. A few examples are:
    1. Avoid clothes with horizontal lines. Belts are horizontal, so make sure you conceal them in your clothes. Avoid clothes with a tartan or checked pattern. Avoid cuffs, as they make your legs appear shorter.
    2. Avoid wearing sharply contrasting shirts and pants together. These will easily expose the real length of your legs and make you look shorter.
    3. Wear clothes with vertical lines or striping. Vertical lines or stripping make a person appear thinner, and thinness, in turn, gives the impression of more height.
    4. Wear clothes with shoulder pads. Shoulder pads make your shoulders appear broader and make your whole body look slender.
    5. You can also wear clothes with diagonal stripes. Clothes such as these will hide body irregularities.

Effective Breathing

The Importance of Effective Breathing for Growth

Effective breathing is essential for growing taller. Effective breathing draws sufficient oxygen into your body to facilitate biochemical reactions and stimulate growth. Only deep breathing is effective breathing; shallow breathing is ineffective and actually stunts growth. Interestingly, anger leads to shallow breathing and therefore stunts growth. So make sure you keep yourself happy as much as possible!

Deep Breathing Exercise

You should perform the following deep breathing exercise every day as well as before and after you sleep. The more often you do this deep breathing exercise, the better results you will get.

  1. Inhale through your nose slowly and controllably for 3 to 5 seconds and make sure your stomach expands as well as your chest.
  2. Hold your breath for another 3 to 5 seconds. Before you exhale, for the final 2 to 3 seconds, tighten your stomach muscles lightly. Your goal is to slowly improve the blood circulation in your head.
  3. Exhale slowly (without loosening your stomach muscles) and in control through your mouth and nose.

What Can Help You Grow Taller

These 10 regular activities can help you grow taller:

  1. Vertical Jumping
  2. Basketball
  3. Volleyball
  4. Football
  5. Baseball
  6. Tennis
  7. Racquetball
  8. Aerobics
  9. Gymnastics
  10. Jogging

And these 10 things will stunt your growth:

  1. Being passive
  2. Being conservative
  3. Alcohol
  4. Smoking
  5. Consuming too many candies or carbohydrates.
  6. Consuming too many fats.
  7. Not getting enough sleep or sleeping irregularly.
  8. Not having correct posture.
  9. Not doing any physical exercises.
  10. Quitting any growing taller efforts too soon.

Elements to Achieve the Best Results:

  1. Reduce carbohydrate and fat intake such as rice, sodas, candies, bread, flour-based products and junk foods in general.
  2. Increase protein intake. For good protein-rich foods, you can do a search in Yahoo or Google and type “protein-related foods”.
  3. Based on your time schedule, do stretching exercises at least three times a week or more.
  4. If you play sports, practicing them more often can benefit you greatly.
  5. Try getting good sleep for the next 3 to 6 months of at least 7 to 8 hours per night.
  6. Measure your height every three weeks, not every day nor every week. Measuring yourself too often can lead to discouragement about the perceived lack of results. It is much better for you to do it every three weeks since the program should be followed for at least 3 to 6 months.

Boost Your Growth Hormones

Size may matter, but in some cases, the smallest thing can have the biggest impact. In this case, it’s that grape-sized organ called the anterior pituitary gland nestled within your brain. Despite its small dimensions, it is the source of powerful juice when it comes to building height. You see, the anterior pituitary gland is responsible for secreting a substance called somatotropin hormone, more commonly known as “growth hormone”, into your bloodstream.

Without that tiny gland, it wouldn’t matter how well you eat or how much exercise you do; building your physique would become an exercise in futility. Why? “It’s somatotropin hormone that dictates how your body will adapt itself from all your height-increasing efforts,” says Ed Burke, Ph.D., director of the Exercise Science Program at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.

Acting as your body’s foreman, growth hormone instructs your skeletal bone to grow larger and stronger while it speeds the conversion of excess fats into energy. In other words, get enough growth hormone floating around in your system and your body has no choice but to construct itself into something bigger and better. Cheat yourself from acquiring your fair share and your body can only do so much, no matter how much you do.

Although the amount of growth hormone your body regularly produces is entirely up to your brain, there are a few things you can do to trick that thrifty gland into being a bit more generous. Pay attention to these six proven ways to make your body work for you:

  1. Get Your Shut-Eye
  2. It’s simple math. Add eight hours to the time you went to bed, then look at your alarm clock before peeling yourself from the sheets. “Not getting enough sleep regularly can lower the amount of growth hormone your body produces daily,” says Walter Thompson, Ph.D., director of the Center for Sports Medicine, Science and Technology at Georgia State University in Atlanta.

    Even though excess sleep won’t necessarily increase the amount of growth hormone your body secretes, constantly burning your midnight oil could be suppressing how efficiently your body distributes growth hormone during the course of the day. Keeping normal sleeping habits may let you tap into a certain percentage of growth hormone that your bones never get a chance to utilize when sleep-deprived.

  3. Eat Smarter
  4. Focus on eating six or seven smaller meals during your day instead of three or four larger ones. Consuming large meals with a high glycemic index forces the body to release a high amount of insulin into the system to aid with digestion. This reaction not only forces your body to store fat, it may also inhibit the flow of the growth hormone being released throughout your bloodstream. Instead, make a point of consuming other low-sugar foods that will prevent the release of insulin.

    The crossover between what you need to stay healthy and what you need to release more growth hormone doesn’t stop with eating smaller meals and getting enough shut-eye. All of the same factors that need to be in place for a healthy lifestyle still hold true. Training right, eating right, sleeping right and keeping your stress to a minimum will not only keep you healthier, they will also foster the type of environment that encourages the anterior pituitary gland to do its job. Deficits in any of these areas will slow down how well your body functions as a whole, which in turn reduces the amount of growth hormone that is being continually pumped into your system.

  5. Pre-Workout Nosh
  6. Toss back a small sandwich a couple of hours before you exercise. Food researchers have discovered that consuming a protein- and carbohydrate-rich meal two hours prior to working out and another meal immediately afterward elicited a significant increase in both growth hormone and testosterone within the bloodstream.

    Even if you’re not hungry at the moment, you may want to consider having a snack to prevent being hungry within the two-hour window before you work out. Researchers at UCLA found that subjects who exercised with partially digested food in their stomachs experienced up to a 54 percent decrease in growth hormone production. Subjects who were fed strictly carbohydrates prior to a workout still experienced lower production of growth hormone by up to 24 percent.

  7. Get the Most from Your Training
  8. What you put your body through during your stretching and exercise routine has a direct effect on what your pituitary gland puts out to build height. A recent study in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that the frequency and amount of growth hormone the body secretes is relative to the intensity of your workout. Subjects who exercised at a higher intensity experienced greater and more frequent releases of growth hormone after their workouts.

    To get the most from your training efforts, you need to be sure that the duration and intensity of your regimen are high enough to elicit a response. Keeping your workouts focused on short-burst, high intensity anaerobic stretching exercises and maintaining a pace that lasts at least 20-30 minutes is a fair standard to follow.

    There are certain stretching exercises that may help squeeze out a little extra growth hormone. By utilizing stretches that include several muscle groups which work collectively, the intensity of the workout subsequently increases as well, forcing the anterior pituitary gland to issue more growth hormone to compensate for the extra effort.

    Oddly enough, participating in intense aerobic exercise can also cause an increase in growth hormone release. However, what keeps marathoners from looking like basketball athletes is that their bodies react differently to the substance because of the activity they participate in.

    It is like having someone who never lifts weights using a muscle-building supplement. They have the building blocks within their system, but unless the endurance athlete is performing a significant amount of resistance-stretching exercises, the body never recognizes a demand to use these tools effectively to help restructure.

  9. Supplement Strategically
  10. Taking the amino acid glycine immediately before you work out can mildly stimulate the release of growth hormone, but only when taken as a supplement. Trying to achieve the same effect by consuming glycine-rich foods such as milk right before exercise inhibits growth hormone by causing you to exercise on a full stomach. Also, the glycine doesn’t get absorbed in the same way. Being introduced into the body in the presence of additional amino acids forces the glycine to compete for transport across the blood-brain barrier, diminishing its effect on the growth hormone levels. The only way glycine can cause a reaction is when taken in isolated supplement form, preferably on an empty stomach to speed up absorption and prevent outside interference from other amino acids.

  11. Don’t Pig Out Before Bed
  12. Never eat a large meal within three hours of going to sleep. The reasoning ties into avoiding the same insulin surge you’re trying to prevent during the day, but this abstention is especially important before bedtime. The body releases the greatest amount of growth hormone during the first two hours of sleep. Having excess insulin within the system after a large meal suppresses this higher output of growth hormone, preventing your body from taking advantage of it as you rest.

    Nighttime also seems to be the best time to take additional supplements to increase the flow of growth hormone. UCLA researchers have found that taking the amino acid arginine and orthinine together on an empty stomach right before bedtime can boost growth hormone levels significantly. However, the amounts required to see a difference were between 40 and 60 grams, dosages too large to take in any version besides injectable form. There are safer, more accessible supplements you can try, such as 5-hydroxy tryptophan, a safer derivative of tryptophan. This sleep aid used to encourage drowsiness also helps the brain release growth hormone.

Mental Exercises

Success begins with a strong and positive mind filled with motivation and determination. However, in reality, most people around you have weak and negative minds. When facing difficulties or adversities, their favorite words are “impossible” and “give up”. If you do not acquire mental toughness, you will easily become their victims and end up quitting your own dreams.

Visualization

Visualization is the best thing you can do as part of any program. See yourself where you want to be! Visualize yourself one foot taller. Make a detailed image of it – what will you look like, how will you feel and what the other people’s reactions are. You are 6′ 5″! Notice the people around you as they admire your stature! Can you see them drooling while they imagine being you? Do you notice how some of them lift up their eye brows as they greet you? Do you feel the respect and submissiveness that they must give to you? Doing this visualization can help you achieve any goal, and being taller is one of them.

Description

Nasturtium officinale is a water plant that can be found throughout the United States, southern Canada, Europe and Asia. It’s actually native to Europe and Asia. Watercress grows in shallow running water where it normally forms dense mats. Its stems with 3 to 9 small oval leaves grow 4 to 10 inches high. It flowers from April to October. Watercress flowers are small and white and occur in long clusters like many other mustards.

Watercress is an ancient plant utilized around the globe throughout history and a popular edible plant that is grown only in the water. Watercress is a tasty edible herb that is easy to grow, and grows in many conditions that yield a nice crop that is also beneficial for healthy water quality.

Watercress is a true aquatic variety of the cress family of leafy vegetables in fact is also the most ancient leaf vegetable consumed by humans. Peppery in taste, it is closely related to the Mustard plant or Mustard greens. Watercress is known as a super food packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and it has more Vitamin C than an orange, more calcium than milk, and more iron than spinach. Wow. All this growing in your own pond!

The Greeks, Romans, Anglo Saxons, French, Victorians,and even the ancient Egyptians all used watercress for medicinal, culinary, and “recreational” purposes. It was grown in massive amounts by ancient rulers in just about every garden. The Chinese used watercress as far back as 2000 BC as a restorative and healing remedy for ulcers, tumors, sore throats, and general healing remedy. ( not only eating it but using it as a tea) Many of today’s Chinese restaurants still have watercress soup on their menu offerings.

Watercress was used for cleansing of the blood, a cure for baldness and scurvy, increased intellect, improved vision, a general detoxifier, a hang over cure, a “cure” for freckles and toothaches, a weight loss supplement, a breath freshener, increased sexual vigor, and was probably the world’s first energy drink with the juice being served to pharaohs’ servants for increased productivity, and the ancient Egyptians were definitely productive.

Recent studies suggest that watercress may inhibit the growth of breast cancer and lung cancer. Watercress was also widely used in culinary practices whether eaten by the handful or artfully blended into the most spectacular fine dining experiences.

Watercress is easy to grow, and an eye catching aquatic plant. It is sold as a bundled plant, about 4 to 6 stems per bunch. Watercress will help to beautify your pond by softening the edges and producing lots of green leaves and pretty little flowers. It improves your pond’s water quality too by removing nutrients and particles from the water that drag down water quality and clarity. If it is used to cleanse our very own blood, surely it can purify pond water.

Minimum quantity for “Watercress or Nasturtium officinale Pond Plant” is 6.

Watercress. What is watercress anyway? Is there such thing as rockcress or maybe landcress? How about outerspace cress? Cress, really?

Yes, cress, really. There is landcress! There is rockcress! There is NOT outerspacecress, and I am sorry if that disappoints you. Truth is that cress, watercress primarily, played a huge and often times important role in many civilizations of the ancient and not so ancient world. Watercress’s botanical name is Nasturtium. It is an ancient plant utilized around the globe throughout history. And you still are not growing it in your pond? Why not?!

Cress is a tasty edible herb that is easy to grow. Cress grows in many conditions that yield the varietal names of rockcress, landcress, gardencress, etc.cress., and has been cultivated by numerous cultures for pretty much, ever! That’s a pretty impressive plant. These facts are what make the watercress variety even more impressive. Forget that this plant with its mats of rich green leaves and clusters of tiny white flowers can easily be grown right in your own water garden, pond, or even as a container plant.

Watercress, of course, being the aquatic variety of the cress family of leafy vegetable, is in fact the most ancient leaf vegetable consumed by humans. Peppery in taste, it is closely related to the mustard plant. Watercress is known as a super food packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. It has more Vitamin C than an orange, more calcium than milk, and more iron than spinach. Wouldn’t this be nice to have right in your backyard?

The Greeks and Romans, Anglo Saxons and French, Victorians and even the ancient Egyptians all used watercress for medicinal, culinary, and “recreational” purposes. It was grown in massive amounts by ancient rulers as well as in just bout every household garden. The Chinese used watercress as far back as 2000 BC as a restorative and healing remedy for ulcers, tumors, sore throats, and general healing remedy; not only eating it but using it as a tea. Many of today’s Chinese restaurants still have watercress soup on their menu offerings.

Watercress was used for cleansing of the blood, a cure for baldness and scurvy, increased intellect, improved vision, a general detoxifier, a hang over cure, a “cure” for freckles and toothaches, a weight loss supplement, a breath freshener, increased sexual vigor, and was probably the world’s first energy drink with the juice being served to pharaohs’ servants for increased productivity, and the ancient Egyptians were definitely productive! Recent studies from 2010 suggest that watercress may inhibit the growth of breast cancer and lung cancer. Watercress was also widely used in culinary practices whether eaten by the handful or artfully blended into the most spectacular fine dining experiences. There are numerous watercress recipes from soup to salads with a quick recipe search. And your water garden still does not have this plant?

How about the fact that watercress is easy to grow and an eye catching aquatic plant? It can be grown from seed, or easily obtained through a garden center. It helps to beautify your water garden by softening the edges of your pond and producing lots of green leaves and pretty little flowers. It improves your pond’s water quality too by removing nutrients and particles from the water that drag down water quality and clarity. If it is used to cleanse our very own blood, surely it can purify pond water!

Well, if I can’t get this backyard water garden plant through to your mind, how about your stomach?

WATERCRESS SANDWICHES

7 bunches watercress
1/4 cucumber
1/2 tsp. Accent
1 lg. pkg. Philadelphia cream cheese (room temperature)
Salt
Red pepper
1 3/4 loaves of lg. thin sliced pumpernickel bread

Pick and wash watercress. Pull all stems off. Chop very fine and add cucumber chopped fine into watercress. Mix softened Philly cream cheese into chopped watercress and cucumber. Add salt to taste and red pepper (sparingly). Mix in 1/2 teaspoon Accent.

Makes 100 party sandwiches, 25 large – cut into fourths.

Hand them out to your friends and chow down! These are great sandwiches.

Watercress, the water garden world’s “new” wonder plant. It’s beautiful, functional, easy to grow, requires virtually no maintenance, and you can eat it! That’s some pretty awesome features of a very awesome plant. And it’s still not in your water garden!!

All copy rights to this material is soley owned by Mike Gannon

Watercress (Nasturtium officinale)

Watercress is a delicious salad crop, which is full of minerals and nutrients, and has a sharp, peppery, slightly tangy taste. It can be eaten on its own, or mixed with other salad ingredients, and makes a delicious cold soup.

It is a perennial aquatic herb or salad, which is found growing naturally alongside slow running water. But, if you want to grow it at home, you don’t need to install your own stream or similar running water! Watercress can easily be grown in a container or in soil that stays permanently wet.

How to grow watercress

Cultivation

Watercress prefers a position in light shade, but will grow well in a sunny position, providing the soil or compost is wet. It needs to be kept moist all year round, so grows well in damp or wet soil or a container that sits in a deep saucer filled with water.

Watercress can also be grown in small pots kept on a brightly lit kitchen windowsill to have fresh leaves readily to hand. This will also ensure you have plants available all year round.

Watercress varieties

Varieties of watercress are not always available, but several seed companies do supply seeds of watercress.

Sowing watercress

Sow seeds outdoors in spring when the soil has warmed up; minimum temperature 8°C (46°F). Or seeds can be sown directly into the containers where you want them to grow.

To start off plants earlier in the year, sow seeds from mid-January to the end of March in pots or trays of moist seed sowing compost. Place in a propagator or warm place covered with a plastic bag, and keep at a constant temperature of 8-15°C (46-60°F).

When seedlings are large enough to handle, transplant them into 7.5-9cm (3-3.5in) pots.

Harden them off by gradually acclimatising them to outdoor conditions for 10-14 days and plant out after the risk of frost, 10-15cm (4-6in) apart.

Planting watercress

As watercress plants need a permanently damp soil, make sure you dig in plenty of bulky organic matter, such as garden compost or planting compost, and incorporate it well into the soil before planting.

Place in the planting hole and adjust the depth so that it is planted at the same depth as it was originally growing and the top of the rootball is level with the soil surface. Mix in more organic matter with the excavated soil and fill in the planting hole. Water in thoroughly.

To grow in a container, plant 3-4 in a 30cm (12in) tub or pot.

You could also buy watercress from a supermarket or shop. Try and buy plants that have already started to produce little white roots and pot them up in small pots.

If you have some plants without roots, pop the stems into a water-filled jam jar or bottle until roots start to form. Then pot them up.

Suggested planting locations and garden types

Patios, containers, water gardens, bog gardens.

How to care for watercress

Keep the plants thoroughly well watered, so the soil or compost never dries out.

If growing in a container, place a saucer under it and keep it permanently topped up with water. Every now and again, especially in hot weather, remove the water from the saucer and flush the compost with fresh water to keep it from becoming stagnant. Then replace the saucer and top up the water.

A monthly liquid feed with a balanced plant food throughout summer will keep plants growing well and producing lots of leaves for picking.

Remove flowers as soon as you see them to keep plants cropping well.

Harvesting

Start harvesting when the plants have become well developed by trimming off the tops of the shoots with scissors. Don’t cut too low down on the plant to ensure the stems produce lots of new growth and sideshoots.

Flowering season(s)

Summer

Foliage season(s)

Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter

Sunlight

Partial shade, Full sun

Soil type

Chalky, Clay, Loamy, Sandy

Soil pH

Neutral

Soil moisture

Poorly drained

Ultimate height

Up to 15cm (6in)

Ultimate spread

Up to 15cm (6in)

Time to ultimate height

3-4 months

Care Of Watercress: Growing Watercress Plants In Gardens

If you are a salad lover, as I am, it is more than likely that you are familiar with watercress. Because watercress thrives in clear, slow moving water, many gardeners refrain from planting it. The fact is that the plant is very adaptable and watercress cultivation can be attained in a number of different ways at home. So, how to grow watercress in the home garden? Read on to learn more.

Watercress Cultivation

Watercress is a perennial cultivated for its clean, slightly peppery tasting leaves and stems. Seen wild, it grows partially submerged in running water and flooded areas in moderately cool climates. If you have a water feature in your landscape, this is a great place to cultivate watercress, but don’t despair if not.

Watercress can also be grown in consistently wet soil with a soil pH of 6.5-7.5 in full sun, or you can mimic natural conditions by growing watercress plants in a bucket or other container. In the garden proper, you can dig out a 6-inch (15 cm.) furrow, line it with 4-6 mil polyethylene and then fill with 2 inches (5 cm.) of composted soil or peat moss. Of course, if you have a running stream on your property, watercress cultivation is about as simple as it gets.

Growing Watercress Plants

Watercress can be grown from seed, transplants or cuttings. Watercress varieties abound, but the most common home grown variety is Nasturtium officinale. Prior to planting, choose a sunny location and amend the garden soil with 4-6 inches (10-15 cm.) of composted organic matter down to a depth of 6-8 inches (15-20 cm.).

Seeds are tiny, so they need to be lightly broadcast over the prepared site. Sow three weeks before the frost-free date for your area. This plant germinates best in cool conditions (50-60 degrees F. or 10-15 C.) but not frigid. Keep the planting area moist but not covered with water. Container grown plants can be placed in a saucer filled with water to retain moisture.

Seedlings will appear in about five days. If you are transplanting, space the plants 8 inches (20 cm.) apart once all chance of frost has passed.

Care of Watercress

Consistent moisture is the number one concern in the care of watercress; after all, water is its milieu. Container grown plants can be placed in a bucket filled with 2-3 inches (5-7.5 cm.) of water so the roots stay submerged.

Although the plant does not have high nutrient requirements, cultivated cress may show signs of potassium, iron or phosphorus deficiencies. A complete soluble fertilizer applied at the recommended rate should mitigate any of these issues.

In the garden, keep the area around the plants free from weeds and mulch to aid in water retention. Snails love watercress and should be removed by hand or trapped. Whiteflies also like the plant and can be controlled with soapy water or insecticidal soap. Spider mites cause leaf discoloration and general deterioration of the plant. Natural predators such as lady beetles, predatory mites or thrips can help control these pests.

Watercress Harvesting

The flavor of watercress is best during the cool months of the year. Once the plant blossoms, the flavor is compromised. Watercress harvesting can commence about three weeks after emergence. Cutting or pruning the plants will encourage them to be thicker and lush. Cut the plants to a height of about 4 inches (10 cm.). Wash the cuttings thoroughly and store in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for as long as a week.

Harvesting can continue year-round, adding a boost of vitamins A and C, along with niacin, ascorbic acid, thiamine, riboflavin and iron to your ho-hum salad or an added zing to compound butter or sauces.

Watercress, to me, tastes of the clear chalk streams of my childhood. When I eat watercress now I am nowhere near this Eden. Instead, I am surrounded by sirens, and the nearest streams are strewn with shopping trolleys.

But I’ve learned that you don’t need the River Test to grow delicious watercress (don’t go foraging for wild watercress until you’ve read up on liver flukes: patient.co.uk/doctor/Fasciola-Hepatica.htm). You just need a shady corner and a pot, or in my case an old tin baby’s bath, and with a little care you can pick watercress all year.

In order to thrive, watercress must be kept permanently wet. It can grow submerged in water (as it does in a stream), but will do just as well in damp soil. The simplest way to achieve this is to sit your container in a deep saucer filled with water. Periodically flush the container with fresh water to keep the pot from becoming stagnant. (In hot weather, you’ll have to do this more frequently.) By early summer, apply a liquid feed such as nettle tea.

The soil outside now is too cold to sow watercress seed, but by March or April it will have warmed up enough to sow direct into a pot. The seed germinates freely, so sow thinly. Don’t cover the seed with compost: it will germinate happily enough on the surface. This usually takes seven to 14 days at around 8-15C.

Even if you don’t have outdoor space, you can still grow watercress as a windowsill microgreen, harvesting tiny leaves of peppery goodness once 5cm or so high. Watercress can be sown year-round as a windowsill green because it needs only a little heat to get going. It’s best to sow into regular seed trays (or takeaway trays with holes punched in the bottom). Fill the tray with compost and sit it on a plate of water until the soil is saturated. Scatter seed across the surface, cover the tray with a clear plastic bag (or a clear shower cap) and place it on a windowsill. Once the seeds have germinated, you can start watering; sit the tray inside another tray so that it is kept damp. You’ll get one, maybe two cuts per tray.

If this sounds like a little too much work, cheat. Go to the supermarket and hunt out a packet of watercress with visible white roots around the base of the stem. Place the stem in a glass of water, removing any lower leaves that will rot underwater, and watch the roots grow. Change the water regularly to stop it going slimy and pot into compost once you have clear signs of growth. A single stem will happily grow in a 15cm pot on a windowsill.

Cress (Lepidium sativum) & Watercress (Nasturtium officinale)

Cress (sometimes called garden cress, garden pepper cress, pepperwort, or pepper grass) is a leafy annual herb from the Brassica family. It is harvested when immature, around one to two weeks after germination, but will grow to a height of around 60cm (24”) if left undisturbed, and then form racemes of white flowers followed by small seedpods. The leaves and stems of young plants are crisp and succulent and high in water content, and the flavour is a bit spicy, similar to the closely related mustard greens. This makes for a surprisingly lively salad green.


Wrinkled cress or “curled” cress has leaves that are serrated and frilly, like a miniature and more succulent version of parsley. It adds more texture and bite to salads and sandwiches, but it is also harvested at an immature stage. Both types are grown in large-scale agriculture, and both are very easy for the home gardener. Upland cress (Barbarea verna) eventually grows out jagged, serrated leaves, but it is usually harvested while the leaves are still small and rounded. This variety will survive with less water than the others, but still prefers moist soil.


Watercress has the same succulent texture as its garden cousins, but grows as an aquatic perennial plant, forming dense mats of foliage at the ends of hollow, sap-filled stalks. Its leaves are pale green and round, about 10-15mm (1/3 — ½”) across. Watercress should be grown in wet (as opposed to damp) soil, preferably along the margins of running water. Watercress will also produce small racemes of white flowers, but will keep growing after going to seed. Once flowering is underway, the leaves of watercress become bitter.


Watercress’ genus name, Nasturtium comes from the Latin nasus tortus or “twisted nose,” and is thought to refer to the pungent flavour of the plant. Do not confuse this genus with the garden flower known as nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus) — the flower earned its common name after watercress as both plants produce a kind of oil that is chemically similar. It’s worth mentioning here that the flower nasturtiums are also edible, and their leaves and flowers both have flavour and texture reminiscent of cress and watercress. Nasturtium microgreens are incredibly piquant, with a sharp pepper flavour. The two types of plants, however, are unrelated. Confusingly, the flower nasturtium is sometimes referred to as Indian cress.

Watercress is native to Europe, but it can now be found growing wild along slow moving waterways in North America. Watercress appears to have been one of the earliest cultivated leaf vegetables — the ancient Greeks and Romans often used it as an inexpensive alternative to black pepper, which had to be imported from India. Land-loving garden cress originated in ancient Persia.

Early herbalists were well familiar with watercress, and noted its medicinal qualities. Of watercress, Nicholas Culpeper wrote:

It is more powerful against the scurvy, and to cleanse the blood and humours, than brooklime, and serves in all the other uses in which brooklime is available; as to break the stone, and provoke urine and women’s courses. It is also good for them when troubled with the green sickness, and it is a certain restorative of their lost colour if they use it in the following manner: chop and boil them in the broth of meat, and eat them for a month together, morning, noon, and night. The decoction thereof cleanseth ulcers by washing therewith; the leaves bruised, or the juice, is good to be applied to the face or other parts troubled with freckles, pimples, spots, or the like, at night, and washed away in the morning. The juice mixed with vinegar, and the forepart of the head bathed therewith, is very good for those that are dull and drowsy, or have the lethargy. Water-cress pottage is a good remedy to cleanse the blood in the spring, and help head-achs, and consume the gross humours winter has left behind; those who would live in health, may make use of this: if any fancy not pottage, they may eat the herb as a sallad.


Both common forms (and their handful of wild cousins) are high in vitamins A and C, as well as iron, calcium, and folic acid. Watercress, particularly, is thought to contain significantly high levels of antioxidants, and many people believe that it has cancer-suppressing properties. It is notably high in iodine and has been used to treat hypothyroid conditions.

How to Grow Cress:

Difficulty: All cress types are very easy to grow, but watercress requires uniquely wet growing conditions. If its needs can be met, it’s very easy. Garden cress is well suited to containers. Remember, it’s usually harvested at a very young age, so it can even be grown indoors, similar to the way you might grow sprouts or microgreens.

Timing: Grown indoors for sprouts, cress can be sown at any time of year providing that a brightly lit area is available. In the garden, sow seeds in spring, and water them in with a kelp-based fertilizer. Watercress can be sown in pans of water or in constantly wet soil. If you have access to a slow moving brook, sow watercress seeds (or transplant store-bought) along the margin of the brook, using small stones to hold plants in place. Keep leaves above the surface of the water. Sow again September 1st. All types should overwinter in this area.

Sowing: Barely cover garden cress seeds. Keep very moist.

Soil: All types prefer fertile, humus-rich soil with a pH around 7.0 in full sun or partial shade.

Growing: If you want to grow watercress indoors for sprouts, remember that there are few available nutrients in the water to help the young plants grow. Apply liquid fertilizer and change the water as often as possible. When plants are 5cm (3”) tall, thin and eat the thinnings.

Harvest: At 15cm (6”) tall, harvest garden cress with scissors — it will grow back at least once. Start a new row or pot just before you harvest the first one, and repeat for the longest harvest.

Storage: Store in the refrigerator, but not for more than two days.

Seed info: Seeds germinate at 10-15°C (50-60°F), usually within 7 days.

Pests & Disease: Slugs can attack outdoor garden cress, but this can be prevented by growing in containers that are kept off the ground.

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