Growing watercress

Polytunnels, cold frames, greenhouses, propagators & more. How to get the best out of yours...

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Primrose
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Growing watercress

Postby Primrose » Wed May 10, 2017 6:00 pm

I have a surplus water butt base about 15" deep which is not being put to any good use at the moment and wonder if theres any possibility of using it upside down as a type of "pond container" in which to grow watercress. It,s expensive to buy fresh in good condition but my impression is that that this crop really needs to be grown in flowing water?

I,m unsure what depth of water to use or whether it would grow just in moist compost. The base container has no drainage holes in it. Has anybody grown It successfully in still water in any quantity and can give me any advice on how to go about it or is it a project not really worth trying?
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Re: Growing watercress

Postby robo » Wed May 10, 2017 6:39 pm

I put some in our pond as I read it was good for clearing water it lasted about two weeks then died when I've seen them growing it on the goggle box they don't have it fully submerged but have the top out of the water, I did think mine would float when I put it in the pond but sunk like a stone
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Re: Growing watercress

Postby Geoff » Wed May 10, 2017 7:13 pm

I think you are right about flowing water. I grow Land Cress which is a good substitute.
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Re: Growing watercress

Postby Pa Snip » Wed May 10, 2017 7:31 pm

It is very unwise to consume cress grown in static water, it does not contain the same mineral content extracted from the water and there is risk from the snails you get it still water.

There are far fewer of them now but in their heyday water cress warms were all next to naturally filtered streams
There used to be a cress farm on the A25 near Dorking, Surrey. and the biggest growers were in Hampshire and used to have special steam trains take cress each day to London, hence how The Watercress Line got its name

If you wish to grow water cress in static water then you treat it like any marginal plant. In other words place in shallow water, but its not for human consumption


I am surprised yours sunk though robo, it will float. My pond is smothered with it and I have a job on my hands to clear it and add it to a compost heap.
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Re: Growing watercress

Postby Pawty » Wed May 10, 2017 7:57 pm

Hi,

Yes, Huge number of cress beds here in Hampshire. All are in very shallow beds with flowing fresh water (mainly spring fed).

The in laws have some growing in the stream that runs though the farm... but we've never dared eat it.

I bought a wasabi plant from the Dorset watercress growers. Apparently it can be grown in soil.... it didn't last the year.

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Re: Growing watercress

Postby tigerburnie » Wed May 10, 2017 8:39 pm

I am growing it now and have done for years, grown in pots and stood in an old washing up bowl, keep the water level just below the surface of the compost.
watercress.jpg
watercress.jpg (91.66 KiB) Viewed 4695 times

This was taken a few weeks ago
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Re: Growing watercress

Postby PLUMPUDDING » Wed May 10, 2017 9:53 pm

I sowed the free packet of watercress in a corner of the greenhouse near the tap not sure if it was last year or the year before. It grew very well and I let go to seed at the end of the season. I cleared it out at the beginning of the winter and to my surprise a new watercress bed has grown from the self seeded ones.

I think the only thing you need to watch is to keep it on the moist side and don't let it go to seed too quickly.
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Primrose
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Re: Growing watercress

Postby Primrose » Thu May 11, 2017 10:51 am

I think growing it in pots of soil stood in just a little water might be a better option for me if I decide to go ahead but I doubt whether I'd be able to grow the quantity desired by this household. It seems to me that if you want a leaf that's green and peppery, growing rocket is a darned sight less complicated.
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Re: Growing watercress

Postby Westi » Thu May 11, 2017 7:04 pm

I've grown it before the same as tiger, but did change, not top up the water as in a sunny spot as it gets algae in it. Not a good enough return for the input though so haven't grown it again. I wonder if you had a larger space something like a childs paddling pool with a solar powered fountain thing would aerate it enough to replicate the natural environment?
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John
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Re: Growing watercress

Postby John » Thu May 11, 2017 9:38 pm

During the winter I grow watercress from cuttings. The cuttings come from the stuff you buy in the supermarket bags. I choose the ends of the thicker stalks (often they already have some simple roots showing) and pot them into small pots or 3 x 2 little modules. They root quickly and then get moved on into deep seed trays - not more than 8 to a tray. Usually works well and they grow on rapidly to give quite a few pickings. I keep them outside off the ground to keep them clean and free from slugs. Its far quicker than starting from seed. Only works in the winter months though.
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Primrose
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Re: Growing watercress

Postby Primrose » Thu May 11, 2017 9:48 pm

That's interesting John. I might try that. I suspect that watercress is esssentially a "cold feet" plant as the water in which is grows is probably always fairly cool which is maybe why the temperatures in summer rises too high for it to grow successfully.
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Re: Growing watercress

Postby John » Thu May 11, 2017 10:19 pm

Hello P
In the warmer months the plants just keep running straight to flower - this is what they probably do naturally - and its difficult to keep the compost wet all the time. I have in the past also kept the seed trays in larger gravel trays half filled with those expanded clay granules such as Hydroleca - this works very well indeed. The plants root into the granules and last much longer.
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The Gods do not subtract from the allotted span of men’s lives, the hours spent fishing Assyrian tablet
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Re: Growing watercress

Postby PLUMPUDDING » Thu May 11, 2017 10:27 pm

Yes John, mine has started flowering now. I'm going to pick some tomorrow and see what the flowers taste like.
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Re: Growing watercress

Postby Geoff » Thu May 11, 2017 11:16 pm

Reminder - solution - Land Cress, same taste, less hassle.
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PLUMPUDDING
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Re: Growing watercress

Postby PLUMPUDDING » Fri May 12, 2017 6:06 am

We've not solved Primrose's use for water butt base problem have we? Stagnant water for watercress is a no go. Bob Flowerdew would probably put a couple of goldfish in it to eat the midge larvae and have a bit of weed and a tiny water lily for them to shelter under.

I personally don't like land cress, it is quite coarse compared to watercress.
Last edited by PLUMPUDDING on Fri May 12, 2017 11:10 am, edited 1 time in total.
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