After you discover how beneficial growing watercress is, you will be happy to eat all your veggies, just as Mom always said you should.
Watercress, Nasturtium officinale, is a tangy member of the cabbage family. It is an aquatic type vegetable with a zesty pepper flavor. You may not have heard much about growing them, but it is one of the oldest leaf vegetables known to man. It is called the original 'superfood' because of all the important health benefits it provides.
In 400 BC, Hippocrates, the father of medicine, was growing watercress to help treat his patients. Greek soldiers were forced to eat them before going into battle to increase their vigor. (Not by their Mothers!) Roman emperors claimed it helped them to make "bold decisions."
When growing watercress from seed, sow the seeds indoors a couple of weeks before the last frost is expected. Lay a paper towel in a shallow bowl and moisten it. Place the seeds on the towel and add about a quarter inch of standing water.
If the seeds remain damp and warm, they should germinate within a week to ten days. Three weeks after germination, the plants will be ready to be transplanted outdoors.
You can plant them in pots or in the ground, as long as the soils remain soggy. Use a rich mix of moist soil, limestone, and organic compost for growing watercress.
As its name implies, it thrives in water. This perennial plant grows naturally along streams and creek beds. In nature, the plant is partially submerged in shallow water, with its roots in the water, and its head above the water. Not to worry, you do not have to go out and buy a lake or pond to grow your them on.
This rapidly growing plant can easily be grown indoors in pots that are placed in a tray of water. Keep the plants moist at all times when growing watercress. The trick is damp not soaked, because too much water can kill it.
This plant enjoys full sun, but grows faster out of direct sunlight. An area in partial shade is ideal with growing watercress.
Harvest leaves and young stems before the flowers bloom. When growing watercress, leaves should be harvested, just before use. They can be kept refrigerated for a week.
Growing watercress health benefits--
This is a vegetable with high levels of natural disease fighting properties. It is packed with nutrients called phytochemicals, a group of cancer fighting compounds. Inside this power food is potent antioxidants, which aid the immune system, and protect against heart disease.
The major amounts of lutein found in this plant are an additional benefit of growing watercress. Lutein is believed helpful in preventing the development of coronary artery disease and heart attacks.
This unique vegetable is also loaded with vitamins, and low in calories, with only four calories per cup. When you eat them, the peppery heat of the leaves acts as a stimulant for your digestion and taste buds.
Watercress food ideas--
Try watercress in smoothies, to give it an extra kick.
You can serve them in salads, or sandwiches. Chop them into small pieces and mix it with cream cheese and chives. Watercress adds flavor to any type of salad.
Watercress can add a delicious flavor to soups. Cut them into fine pieces and cook it in chicken or vegetable stock.
Add watercress to omelets or stir-fry.
You may have thought this vegetable was only the greenery on plates served in fancy restaurants. Actually, this vegetable is one of the main ingredients in V8 Vegetable Juice. Now, go make your Mother proud by growing watercress.
Michael Floren has been growing watercress for more than a decade. He is a gardening enthusiast and you can learn more about growing watercress and other great herbs at http://grow-herbs.net/
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