WATERCRESS (Nasturtium officinalis) is an ancient potherb grown for thousands of years and which has naturalized beside and in streambeds. I simply LOVE this green and its flavorful, slightly pepper, little round leaves. Spring just isn't Spring without my watercress sandwiches with the crusts cut off and a cup of Earl Grey. This green can be fussy to grow but not if you remember what its natural requirements are -- plenty of clean water, consistently provided in some form. It is definitely worth the trouble because it is a powerfully nutritious, tasty and versatile green. 25-30 days. 100 seeds.
ABOUT WATERCRESS: A truly amazing powerhouse of nutrition, 80 grams of watercress (about 3 ounces) provides 83% of your Vitamin C and 42% of your Vitamin A daily requirements. It is also rich in Vitamins B1, B6, E, as well as Folate, Vitamin K, Calcium, Iodine, Iron, Beta-carotene, Magnesium, Manganese, Phosphorus, Potassium, Zinc, Lutein and Zeaxanthin, Selenium, Quercetin -- all important cancer and heart protectors. A recent study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that a daily dose of watercress is important in fighting free radical damage.
GROWING TIPS: I have grown this successfully in the garden by growing it in a clay pot immersed in a bucket of water which I changed twice daily. (Also important these days to discourage mosquistos that might carry West Nile Virus too!) Grown this way, you will need to ensure it has sunshine but cool roots. OR, grow it indoors in a hydroponic system like an Aerogarden - much easier, and then you can have it all year 'round. Germinates in 10 days and ready to munch in 25-30. Keep it pinched back and bushy and it will perform all season long. Start another pot when one is waning so you are never without this important green!
EATING WATERCRESS: In addition to my favorite tea sandwiches, watercress is traditionally used by many cultures in soups, green sauces for meats, salads, and all sorts of recipes. You are limited only by your imagination, and any meal is vastly improved by the addition of this delicious potherb!