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Cress is a quick-growing, easy-to-start seed, that it is often used in children's gardening activities. Garden cress is related to watercress and can be grown in a bottle, on a cotton ball, or the traditional way in soil. It really just needs moisture to germinate. Cress makes a delicious and nutritious salad green with a slightly peppery flavour. All parts of the plant are edible including the seeds. Grow garden cress indoors in a trough or pot where you can snip off the peppery leaves as you need them. It is also a cool-season green and can be grown in fall or spring outdoors.
Fill the trough with half seed-starter mix and half compost. The compost will pump up the nutritional content of the starter mix and help conserve water. Water the planting medium until water comes out of the drainage holes. This will ensure the soil is evenly moist and enhance germination.
Broadcast the seed thickly over the top of the soil. Cover with a 1/4-inch layer of seed starter. Mist the top layer until just moist. Cover the pot with cling film to make a mini greenhouse. Put the trough in a warm light area 12.7 to 18.3 degrees C.
Check for germination in two days and check daily you see the seedlings. Emergence will be within seven days. If grown outdoors in spring, germination can take up to two weeks. Remove the cling film as soon as the plants sprout. Keep the trough evenly wet, as cress needs plenty of water.
Thin to 3 inches apart. The thinnings can be eaten. You can begin harvesting cress at any time but allowing them to grow for two weeks will produce the larger milder leaves for salad. The peppery flavour of cress goes a long way and can be mixed with other types of greens.
Cut cress back to 1/2 inch and it will provide you with another complete harvest. For continuous harvesting all season long you can sow every 10 days. Cress will bolt when temperatures are hot in summer. Wait until fall to sow the green again.
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