You’re listening to Fish Grow Plants—A podcast all about practicing and sharing the love of aquaponics; hosted by Logan Schoolcraft.
Hello, and welcome to Fish Grow Plants! In today’s episode we going all-in on watercress!
Have you ever done something before without really knowing anything about it, and then went back and realized a little learning would have saved at least some time and headache?
Well, I guess I’ve been there.
Years ago a I bought an RV because of a job change. I guess you could say I was a “customer” for about a month. Yes, a month is about all the time I spent on my RV search prior to signing my name on the dotted line.
And back then, I didn’t do a whole lot of internet research, checking sites, reviews, and all the other extra things you can dig up now. Most of my time was spent on the road, in parking lots, physically looking at types, styles, and trying to find something that wasn’t too outrageous in price.
Don’t get me wrong, I think that kind of learning and getting a “feel” for what I liked was important.
But, it was after I drove away with the hulk of a trailer that I started to figure out a few things that might have been worth the money up front.
Really laying out what I wanted would have gone a long way. For example, knowing where I would have wanted my slide-outs located and how many, where the appliances would be, tare weight vs max weight, and how often I really thought I’d be moving the thing would have all been better if I’d known them up front.
I love my RV—it needs some TLC right now, but don’t regret any decision about it. The point is, if you could catch yourself before you go into something, would you take a little bit of time to do some self-educating and save yourself time and effort?
No doubt…even though it’s taken me years to finally say that.
So, the parallel of this RV story is with my experience growing watercress—and just starting it without really knowing anything about it.
At this stage, I have some experience from simply growing it, but I’d like to know a little more about it, and to how to optimize it for my current situation, if possible.
So, let’s dive in to the nitty gritty of watercress!
COMMON NAME: Watercress
LATIN NAME: Nasturtium officinale
FAMILY: Mustard (Brassicaceae)
LIFE CYCLE: usually raised as an annual, but it’s a perennial water plant in some parts of the world.
HARDINESS ZONES: 5 to 10
HYBRID STATUS: Open Pollinated (I’m assuming hybrids exist though…)
DAYS TO MATURITY: 16-60 (depending on harvest and variety, i.e. microgreens or full plant)
COMMON USES: Microgreens, hydroponics, containers, in-ground
SOIL TEMPERATURE FOR GERMINATION: 50-70F
SEED DEPTH: ¼”- ½”
SEED SPACING: 1-2” (but for microgreens you’ll be spreading them a lot thicker than this)
DAYS TO EMERGENCE: 2-15
THIN PLANTS TO: 6—12”
ROW SPACING: 16—18”
FERTILIZER NEEDS: Low
SEEDS PER GRAM: varies by variety, obviously, but you’ll probably easily get more than 2,000 seeds per gram (probably a whole lot more)
WATERING: Keep seeds damp, or moist; some are slow to germinate. This plant loves water, being semiaquatic, so don’t short-change it. You don’t have to over-water, but make sure it has fresh water. Bottom watering indoors is a good option. Water daily, if not automated.
TEMPERATURE: Depending on variety, the plant itself prefers 60–75°F. It seems the higher you go over 75F, the greater the chance of disease you have, at least a more favorable environment for disease is created. And it needs partial shade in hot weather.
LIGHTING: supplement as needed, especially if starting or growing in winter.
pH: around 7.0 on the pH scale seems to be a good place for watercress.
TRANSPLANTING: This assumes you’re growing the whole plant. Plan to start seeds 4 to 6 weeks prior to your transplant date.
COMMON INSTECTS: Aphids and flea beetles
INSECT CONTROL: Strong spray of water, or applications of Pyrethrin or Neem oil (if not growing aquaponically)
DISEASES: dampening off occurs in microgreen operations, so make sure to have good clean substrate, water, and plenty of airflow crossing over the starts. Mold can also be problematic in the same type of environment, so the keep the air going, just don’t dry everything out.
HARVEST: For microgreens, harvest usually around 2” tall after the first true leaves start to appear. For the whole plant, cut at the base, or try a cut-and-come-again method with the stems.
STORAGE: under a week, pending proper storage conditions and handling. Don’t forget to wash!
TASTE & FLAVOR DESCRIPTION: common adjectives used to describe the gastronomic delicacy of watercress is succulent, crisp, peppery, pungent, biting, and I would add a bit bitter, but that could just be me. Watercress is high in vitamins A, C, and K, as well as calcium, folate, minerals and phytochemicals. Apparently, it goes well with astringent fruits (think citrus and oranges). But it’s also great in salads, soups, steamed on its own, or as a garnish or simply eaten raw as a snack.
So why watercress?
Well, to each their own, but for me, watercress is a great supplement. It’s full of a lot of good stuff for your body and I think of it like a superfood that grows super well in my small aquaponic system. Who wouldn’t want that?
Also, it’s rare in my part of the world. If England claims the watercress capital of the world, then I’m a long way off! But I have my own little supply right here, and that’s fine with me!
In all honesty, I can only eat a small amount of this peppery plant raw at one time; usually I have to wrap in in lettuce or Swiss Chard to help dull the intensity. However, there is a long list of recipes out there to make some amazing dishes with.
Just use your favorite search engine for “watercress” or “watercress recipes”. And, if that doesn’t work, then go to this All Recipes link (found on the Fish Grow Plants blog) that has plenty of recipes and ideas to get you started:
Well, this has been great for me. I actually feel more informed about my peppery flavored plant. Now I can start to make tweaks to raising it in my little aquaponic niche of the world to get all the benefits nutritionally in addition to the satisfaction of producing an amazing crop of watercress!
So, if you’re itching to get your hands on some watercress seeds and get going, then I’d recommend you check out some seed suppliers. A few I referenced while creating this episode are:
Johnny’s Selected Seeds:
Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds:
Territorial Seed Co.:
Strictly Medicinal Seeds:
Southern Exposure Seed Exchange:
Good luck, and happy aquaponic growing with watercress!
Questions! Let me have them! Do you need clarification, more information, or maybe you just have a tangent thought—send all your thoughts my way. See the website fishgrowplants.com for episode details, or just fire off an email to email@example.com and I’ll get back to you.
So, was this episode good, bad, ugly, or other? Let me know! Comment, email, smoke-signals it doesn’t matter! I love to hear from you. Your feedback is immense, and I am always grateful for it. Likewise, thank you for taking the time to listen and share your thoughts. Have a wonderful day.
This has been another episode of Fish Grow Plants—the podcast all about practicing and sharing the love of aquaponics; hosted by Logan Schoolcraft.