|Watercress - Nasturtium officinale
This tutorial is not about picking wild watercress to bring home to eat.
Also, it Is Not about identifying it or how to find it. There are plenty of sites on the web devoted to identifying watercress.
This tutorial is about picking wild watercress to bring home, grow it, and thereby being able to eat it fresh and clean, as desired.
I have several areas in my neck of the woods - southwestern Pennsylvania - where there are patches of watercress growing wild.
It even looks like those patches are growing in brooks of clean spring water free of contaminates, that is, clean, short running springs.
However, I am very picky when it comes to eating raw food ( liver fluke ) so I figure it is safer to grow what watercress I need at home, on my back porch.
Contrary to what many people believe you do NOT need a running stream or brook to grow watercress. Although slow running brooks and streams are natural environments you can grow as much as you want at home in a pot or trough and eat it all Summer.
You just need to keep it 'wet'.
You can't over-water watercress! You do need to keep it water a lot so I water mine every morning and evening.
I usually pick a few small bunches in early March, transplant them in a planting trough and water it daily.
It grows like crazy in MiracleGro Potting Mix. At the end of the season dump the potting mix back in the bag and use it the next year for growing something else or mix it with other dirt or potting mix for another plot.
In March get a few clumps of watercress from a clean source ( or use the seeds from a prior years seed gathering ).
Lush watercress growing in a spring seep April.
A long planting trough - or two or three,
A large bag of MiracleGro Potting Mix
Here are the transplants after 20 + days.
Fill the pot(s) or planting trough(s) with MiracleGro Potting Mix. I imagine something else might work but I can't vouch for that because I use MiracleGro.
It has all the nutrients that apparently watercress loves because it really grows great if kept wet.
Place the watercress plants you pulled from the stream ( and kept wet on the way home ) into the potting mix.
I usually get a few of the size plants shown below to transplant at home.
These little plants turned into those beauties shown below.
Watercress that is well taken care of will grow tall and stately. Keep harvesting as it grows and you can keep it lower.
I let this batch grow since April 1 and you can see that by May 10 they are over 20 inches high.
Plus I want these to go to seed so that I can plant some of those seeds in some of those hidden springs I know of in the mountains near where I forage.
There are plenty of little spring seeps or brooks that just need a helping hand to get started.
Looking from the end of the planting trough. A nice lush growth of clean watercress.
It's great to have watercress growing on the back porch. I usually pinch off several leaves or small branches several times a day and just eat it right there.
When we have a salad I go out on the porch and gather a bit to chop up and add to the the salad. It adds that extra little zip - raddish like - to the salad.
Also great to throw a few sprigs or leaves on a sandwich.
Plus it's nice to know that getting my watercress regularly during the season provides my old body with some very good nutrition.