Watercress is perennial plant with hollow stems and small heart-shaped leaves. It has a peppery flavor that's sharp but not bitter. As the name suggests, watercress is a water-loving plant, and it typically is found growing near creeks and ponds. Popular varieties include English Watercress and Broad Leaf Cress.
Watercress grows best in sunny, cool spots. If there is a small creek or stream on your property, grow your watercress there. If not, you will need to build a bog. Start by digging a hole about 2 feet across and 12 inches deep. Then, add a pond liner to your hole. Snip the edges of the pond liner so that it is 3 to 4 inches above the ground. Then, take a garden fork and poke holes in the bottom of your liner to allow drainage.
Once you have lined your bog with pond liner, you will need to poke holes in your liner to allow water to flow through it. Use a garden for to punch holes in the bottom and sides of the liner. This keeps most of the water in the bog, but allows excess water to drain into the ground.
Watercress grows best in cool but sunny spots. If there is a small creek or stream on your property, grow watercress there. Otherwise, it may be necessary to create a bog. Dig a hole about 2' across and 12" deep (Image 1). Loosely fit black plastic pond liner over the hole, pressing it down with your hands. Trim the excess off the top, leaving a 3" or 4" lip at the top. Use a garden fork to punch a few holes in the sides of the liner for drainage (Image 2).
Create a soil mix of one part compost, one part coarse sand, one part mushroom compost, and one part ordinary garden soil. Add a handful of slow release all purpose fertilizer to your mix and pour the mix into the bog. Cover the garden liner at the surface with soil and fill the hole with water.
Combine one part garden soil, one part coarse builder's sand, one part compost, and one part mushroom compost. Add a handful of slow-release fertilizer to the mix. Pour the mixture into the bog, filling it to within 1" or 2" of the top. Cover the remaining exposed liner with soil. Fill the bog thoroughly with water.
Plant watercress seeds in the bog by sowing them 1/4" deep and about 1/2" apart. Cover the seeds with fine garden soil and gently water them in. Keep the bed moist until the seeds germinate.
Thin the seedlings apart about 5 to 8 inches after germination. Make sure to create and maintain a boglike setting for your watercress by giving the plants enough moisture. In warm weather, your watercress will sprout little white flowers. When the cool weather returns, cut back the flowers to encourage tender new growth.
Thin seedlings to about 5" to 8" apart after germination. Maintain adequate moisture levels in the bog. In hot weather, watercress will be covered with small white flowers. When cool weather returns, cut back the flowers to encourage new tender growth.
To harvest watercress, cut the leaves and stems a few inches above the ground. Watercress is a perennial, meaning it will come back year after year, and new growth will come up from the ground after each cutting. Although it can be harvested any time of year, its flavor is best during the cooler months.