Hartley Magazine

All the latest news, hints, tips and advice from our experts

Watercress could be ideal for the greenhouse

Greenhouses offer a very diverse range of benefits for green-fingered enthusiasts, not least of which is the ability to grow a wide variety of plants out of their natural habitat.

This can be an ideal solution for those who want to grow things that are typically found in conditions that do not approximate the natural surroundings that characterise their local area.

For instance, watercress is associated with rivers – but there is no reason that keen gardeners cannot grow some of their own, even if they do not live particularly close to running water.

Watercress – also known by its Latin binominal name of nasturtium officinale – is a very fast-growing plant that is native to Europe and Asia. It is a perennial that is also one of the oldest known leaf vegetables eaten by people.

It is related to garden cress, mustard and radish – which all form part of the Brassicaceae family and are noted for their peppery, tangy flavour.

This has led to it being a staple feature of a wide range of recipes – making it ideal as an extra for growers who are keen on maintaining their own produce.

Indeed, the website Watercress suggests meals like watercress pesto linguini; creamy pasta with bacon and watercress; a chicken, squash and watercress gratin; and a classic watercress salad.

The site notes that watercress is a leafy salad that is very healthy, as it is absolutely bursting with vitamins and minerals – a classic natural superfood.

Former presenter of UK television magazine show Gardeners' World and garden writer Alys Fowler said that it reminds her of the clear chalk streams of her childhood.

In an article for the Guardian, she emphasised that there is no need to be close to a river to get to work on this plant. Indeed, all that is really needed is a pot and a well-shaded corner.

"You can still grow watercress as a windowsill microgreen, harvesting tiny leaves of peppery goodness once five cm or so high," the expert commented.

"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… and place it on a windowsill," Ms Fowler continued, suggesting that watering can commence after the plants start germinating.