7 days ago, I snipped some watercress and put it in soil to see if I could grow new plants from cuttings. So far it looks like it’s working! The roots are definitely growing well.
I looked up watercress in my Encyclopedia of Gardening, and it had some interesting things to say.
It is a perennial plant, so you should be able to plant it once and have it come back every year thereafter. If it’s anything like mint, which so far seems to be the case in terms of rooting very easily, then it will be something you will hardly be able to get rid of within a few years.
Normally watercress is found by running streams, as I remember from my childhood, but the encyclopedia gives further detail about this: “Its natural habitat is fresh running streams, with slightly alkaline water at about 50 degrees F (10 C).” So a nice cool stream. Got it.
The next question is, how do I recreate that in my sandy backyard? Or will it grow fine in soil as long as I keep it watered? Well, they do answer that question too – “may be grown in moist garden soil”. Oh good.
But – keep reading – “it is easier to grow in 6-8 in pots”. The pot can recreate the stream, if you keep a saucer of water under it. You need to change the water daily, though, so it does require some daily thought to keep it going. Like any pot or planter on a summer patio or balcony.
Hmm. I think I want to create a stream in my yard. Do you think that would be less work?
I finally made it out to the grocery store this morning, and couldn’t wait to get home and try out this watercress experiment. You may recall a post last week about watercress (someone had asked me about it at the La Leche League Garage Sale) where I mentioned that I’d like to try growing it from a grocery store bundle.
Well, looking at it in the store, I wasn’t so sure about the stems – they looked like new growth, and I figured it might be tricky to root. However, as I continued to look closer, I discovered that there were already little roots growing from the nodes on the stems!! Yay!! This means it will probably do just as well as the mint does when I snip it and throw it in some soil.
When I tasted it, the peppery taste really reminded me of something that I couldn’t put my finger on, until I found a website that told me the scientific name – Nasturtium officinale – and that jogged my memory, so I knew where I had tasted that flavour before… the taste totally reminds me of Nasturtium flowers and leaves. They have a stronger kick than the watercress does, though, so I can’t eat too many before my taste buds are exhausted. I look forward to putting the leftovers of the watercress experiment in my salad, though – it’s like a taste of summer.
I took photos of my progress, in case anyone wants to try their own or is curious about the process. I just did this today, so I can’t verify that this works, but given the state of the watercress, with roots already starting, I’m sure it will turn out just fine. I should also say that normally I would start them in the early spring, so they could then be planted outside once they were big enough.
Ready? Here we go…
First I snipped off the petioles – these are the stems that branch off the main stem. See the roots already starting??? Also notice, I’m leaving the stipules, which are the little stems growing out between the main stem and the branching stems.
Then I snipped between the nodes.
I made 16 cuttings since that’s how many grow holes I have in the tray I’m using to start them.
Aren’t they cute?
I put them under my grow lights, since these days are turning grey and I’d like to give them as much light as I can. Now I wait and water and see how it goes!
AND eat the leftovers.
Updates to follow!
I had a great time at the garage sale today! I didn’t sell anything, but I was able to visit with friends and chat with people about Sarah’s Kitchen Gardens, which made it all worthwhile. This post is inspired by the woman who asked me about watercress.
I’ve heard of watercress, of course. When I was a kid my dad used to take me out foraging for wild mint and nettle and occasionally we would see watercress too. Mint and watercress both like to grow near streams, so on our trips to gather mint for mint jelly we would sometimes see the watercress. I had never considered its cultivation, though, so the question took me by surprise. Like all good questions, though, it got me thinking. Now I want to know how to grow it! First I looked in all my seed catalogues, and didn’t find watercress seeds listed. Next plan? Google it, of course! The photo above came from this site. According to them, it’s easy to grow from a stem, so you could buy it from the grocery store and start your own plant! If it’s anything like mint it will not need any encouragement to root from a stem buried in soil.
I’m going to try it. Watercress is on my shopping list, so if I can find it I will be posting about my little experiment as it happens.