Cress is healthy, cress is delicious, cress brings a touch of spiciness and spices up any boring sandwich with a paper cut. That is why the cress pot on the windowsill has become a matter of course for many people – if you are not yet one of these people, you will find out here how little effort it takes to put it on.
Table of Contents
Cress anytime, anywhere
Cress in the house or garden cress (is always the same plant, see below) – these are unusually willing plants, the annual plant develops many stems up to 50 cm high in no time if you leave it and not harvested long before.
The cress actually takes any material with a good grip as an occasion to spread a green blanket over it: cress grows in soil and on perlite, on cellulose flakes and on foamed plastic, on fleece made of flax and hemp fibers and probably also on the seat made of natural fibers discarded chair.
That’s why you can grow cress so well in the kitchen, a jar with a little cotton is enough, but also everywhere else in the apartment where you often sit down with a cheese sandwich – vitamin-obsessed office workers are said to have been spotted doing their potty every lunchtime Picking the cress on the rear shelf in the car.
The right soil and location for the garden cress
Accordingly, in the garden you don’t need to be too squeamish about the soil in which you sow the garden cress. In principle, you can sow the garden cress on anything that does not release harmful substances into the harvest, provides support for the roots and stores the water for a while.
In the garden, the garden soil is ideal, but if you suffer from a lack of space, you could also hang a kind of giant utensil on a house wall and fill the pockets with plant fleece and sow the garden cress on it. Or you can hang the stands of your clothesline all around with flower pots filled with perlite and let the garden cress grow here.
The sunnier the location, the more eagerly the garden cress will sprout, but with a little patience you will also be able to harvest in fairly shady locations. If garden cress is grown in permanent sunlight, it will develop a slightly different aroma than if it “grows up” in the shade – if you have the choice, it could be interesting to try both variants once.
Garden cress needs warmth
Even if the cress is a growth miracle – it cannot withstand night frost under any circumstances. Because cress plants develop very delicate, small individual plants that freeze to death very quickly. Therefore, the cress seeds should only be sown outdoors when you are absolutely sure that the temperatures will no longer drop below zero – not even for a single half hour below zero.
Most gardeners use the ice saints as guarantors, whose memorial days (three, four or five, depending on the region) are between May 11th and 15th. But it is sufficient if you remember “mid-May” as a keyword for delicate garden plants – with the Gregorian calendar reform, the days on which the peasant rule is aimed have shifted; they are now more than a week after the memorial days.
Sow garden cress
Garden cress is sown in nutrient-rich and previously well-watered soil that allows excess moisture to run off. If you want, you can sow the garden cress in neat rows, but you can also simply spread it “creatively wild” over the bed in a free litter.
The seeds are then moistened so well with a sprinkler set to a fine jet that they are not immediately spread into the rest of the garden by the next gust of wind. They have to stay on the surface of the earth, garden cress is one of the light germs.
You don’t need to worry about your crops being picked immediately – birds can’t do anything with garden cress seeds. The “clever garden cress” has in fact prepared itself thoroughly for its existence as a light germ: It forms various ingredients in its seeds, the taste of which the birds do not like.
The moisture should be assured consistently in the days after sowing, so that the seeds neither dry out nor stand in wet earth, then they would start to rot.
Caring for the garden cress
Now something should happen very quickly, the seeds could show the first signs of germination the next day.
The garden cress doesn’t really need care, except for the creation of constant moisture, which, however, sometimes requires an attentive eye with such delicate plants. Because a bed of garden cress quickly turns into a swamp with low-lying plants if only the jet of the garden hose is accidentally adjusted too strongly. On the other hand, the garden cress really needs to be watered every day during dry times.
After one to two weeks, the first cress plants should be a few centimeters high – but don’t be confused if the garden cress is a little slower than the cress on the windowsill: it puts considerably more strength into the root formation when it grows in soil.
Grow garden cress yourself
If you would like to extract seeds from your own garden cress, you should not harvest part of the bed, but simply let it continue to grow. Gladly a part that can be seen from afar, because the small plants will now develop into imposing plants – especially for children it is usually exciting to see how the small, thin things from curd bread gradually become real, large plants: The garden cress will develop a sturdy stem from which it will branch out several times. The leaves become much larger, up to eight inches long and a few inches wide, and after a while the cress has reached a height of around 50 cm (sometimes over a meter) and develops a lush inflorescence full of small, white or pink colored ones Blossoms.
If you let these flowers ripen, pods will form, the flowers wither and new cress seeds will ripen in the pods. These pods are small and numerous, which is why they are mostly called capsules, and each of these capsules has some cress seeds inside. Since the capsules were “designed” by nature to spread the next generation of cress with the help of the wind, the seeds can be easily shaken out of the capsules. They have to be ripe, of course, that’s when the capsules are tinted light yellow or beige and hang down a little. If you want to “harvest” seeds, you should take a large, lightweight bowl with you that you can hold longer with one hand so that less will go wrong when you shake it.
The recovered seeds can be sown again immediately, or you can store them in an opaque and well-sealed container until you have an appetite for cress again. That can take a while, cress seeds stay viable for a long time, up to four years.
Cress seeds – stock up is worth it
Whether growing your own seeds is worthwhile is another question. You can buy cress seeds everywhere, always in the garden center and in the supermarket usually during the entire growing season, and a sachet with this seed is not necessarily one of those luxury items that you have to think long and hard about whether you can afford it.
If you value organically grown seeds and value always having fresh cress growing somewhere, it looks a little different: A sachet of organic cress seeds can cost a little over 2 euros, and if you have one To catch distributors for whom “organic” is not a standard of living, but a “license to print money”, there are 10 g of seeds in this bag. 10 g of cress seeds produce between 50 and 100 g of cress, so little more than a daily ration for a family.
This is different from the convinced and experienced organic companies such as Sonnentor Kräuterhandels GmbH (www.sonnentor.de), where you can get 120 g of organic cress seeds for € 1.99. Still not the best solution for a large family, the yield of these seeds will also be plastered by them in a not too long time …
However, this family could look around for a source of supply from which they can order organic seeds in larger quantities. B. the Bingenheimer Saatgut AG in 61209 Echzell-Bingenheim. At www.bingenheimersaatgut.de you can order 1 kg of organic cress seeds for around € 15, or 5 kg for a little more than € 50 – really affordable cress enjoyment, even if shipping costs of around € 5 are added!
Harvest garden cress
As soon as the garden cress is about a hand’s breadth high and has developed several leaves, it can be harvested for the first time. The easiest way to do this is with kitchen scissors – simply cut off the amount of cress that you want to process about one centimeter above the ground. From now on you can harvest until the last stalk is gone or until blossoms appear.
When the cress is already blooming, you can of course also harvest and eat the cress that is just blooming. You can even eat them when the flowers are already in full splendor – the flowers of this cress are of course just as edible as the even more decorative flowers of the nasturtium, which are used in large quantities in gastronomy.
The leaves will change in taste as they get older and bigger, so maybe you’d rather make a nice soup out of them than use them raw. In this case, you could separate the flowers beforehand and B. use as extravagant and edible table decorations.
Cultivars of garden cress and related species
Once you’ve found a taste for cress, there is no need to limit yourself to just one type of cress; there is quite a selection of related varieties at your disposal:
- “Our” garden cress has the botanical name Lepidium sativum, it grows as an annual or biennial.
- The perennial relatives, also sometimes referred to as garden cress, the Lepidium latifolium or pepper herb, broad-leaved cress, beach cress can be grown in the garden like garden cress, but harvested over several years.
- The watercress, Nasturtium officinale, also belongs to the cruciferous family, but to a different genus than the garden cress. It is originally found in Europe, North Africa and Asia and now grows all over the world, but only in flowing, nutrient-rich waters, where it is rarely harvested for use as a spice.
- The nasturtium, Tropaeolum majus, is even less related to the garden cress; it only shares the order of the cruciferous species with it. You can find out more about the interesting ornamental and edible plants in the article “Planting nasturtiums – sowing and care”.
- The winter cress, Barbarea vulgaris, belongs to the same tribe as the watercress, but again to a different genus. It can also be cultivated in the garden as a spicy, vitamin-rich salad plant; its leaves can be harvested well into winter.
- The bitter cress, also known as the bitter foam herb, the Cardamine amara belongs to a sister genus of the winter cress. This wild cress grows well in very humid places, is also good in the cold season, and tastes very good in salads, dips and quark – an interesting variant to replace the “ordinary” garden cress.
- If you come across daikon cress, it’s sprouts pulled from the daikon, a mild East Asian giant radish.
Cress is a lot more exciting than the 1 euro paper pot from the supermarket suggests. It can be grown in the garden without any effort, even in permanent ways, can be used in a variety of ways and is not too good even for crazy experiments: You can grow a birthday greeting with garden cress as well as give the self-made clay head with cress on plant fleece a green hairstyle.