At this time of year in the world’s northern hemisphere, most of us gardeners are reaping the benefits of the harvest from the plants that are flourishing from the seed we sowed in Spring. In fact for me, seed sowing at the start of this year already seems like a distant memory and I’m now thinking ahead to next year and what I would like to grow in the vegetable patch.
There are still seeds you can set in late Summer for a Spring harvest the following year, for example spring cabbage seed. It could be said, however, that the variety of plants that can be grown outside over winter does become limited and it is certainly no where near the choice that you have for growing in Spring and Summer. Not only this, with cooler outdoor temperatures, rock hard soil and limited indoor growing space come Winter, sowing seeds can almost come to a standstill.
I say almost, because there is in fact a trusty seed that can be sown all throughout the year! It’s one that doesn’t take up a lot of space in your home over Winter and is so reliable and quick when it comes to sprouting that I thought it deserved it’s own post on my blog.
I’m talking about: GARDEN CRESS.
DID YOU KNOW? Garden cress is related to mustard and watercress.
It may not be to everyone’s taste due to it’s peppery flavour, yet it certainly is a seed for everyone to sow. I love growing garden cress for it’s quick results as well as it’s versatility. Classed as a herb, it can be added to sandwiches, salads, soups, butter and other herb mixes for some extra tanginess. If you are a beginner when it comes to gardening and are itching to have a go at growing something, then garden cress is a great way to start. I promise you it’s very easy to grow and you’ll see the rewards of what you’ve sown in about six days. For children too, this is an ideal seed to grow with them to teach the basic skills of sowing seeds and what things plants need to grow.
DAY 1 – Let’s take a look at what you will need:
Packet of garden cress seeds
A glass of water
DAY 1 – Place cotton wool in a container.
You can use any waterproof container you wish but do not use a container with holes in the bottom when sowing cress.
When growing cress with children why not use containers such as egg shells or pots that children can draw a face on. When the cress has grown, it will look like hair!
Garden cress is one of those plants that doesn’t need soil to germinate and grow. My last blog post was about the importance of soil and included hydroponics (growing plants without soil). Cress is ideal for not growing in soil as it doesn’t live for long periods due to it’s short germination period and you will have cut it before you know it and added it to your food. Plants that take longer to germinate and have a longer life span need soil for their supply of nutrients.
DAY 1 – Add water.
Add enough water to dampen the cotton wool. If you find you’ve added too much water and that your cotton wool is ‘swimming’, tip the container and pour the water out.
DAY 1 – Add garden cress.
Spinkle cress seeds onto the damp cotton wool, like in the photograph.
DAY 1 – Position the container in the right place in your house.
Leave the cress in a spot in your home where it is warm but there is not full, direct sunlight. The seeds need light but the sun should not be shining directly onto the seeds.
I started the project in the morning on day 1 and in the same afternoon, if you look very closely, you can see the seeds have started to absorb the water and split.
HELLO LITTLE ROOTS!
Keep checking on your cress as the days progress and ensure the cotton wool remains damp. You might need to top up with a bit more water if the cotton wool is getting dry.
Very quickly you will notice shoots and tiny leaves starting to appear.
The garden cress is now about 4cm high and is ready for adding to your meals. All that’s left is to enjoy eating what you’ve grown or if you don’t like the taste, to give it away as a gift!