Watercress seeds for schools
Did you know that … gram for gram, watercress contains more vitamin C than oranges, more calcium than milk, more iron than spinach and more folate than bananas? It was a very important source of nutrition in Victorian times – particularly if you didn’t have much money. It was called ‘poor man’s meat’. Berkhamsted had a flourishing industry growing the watercress in the River Bulbourne.
If you’re on this webpage, then you have received a little packet of watercress seeds through your school, or the library, or through Open Door. How exciting! This is how you can grow your own watercress:
- Find a plant pot – or you can make one by cutting down a large yoghurt pot and putting holes in the bottom. It doesn’t need to be deep.
- Fill your pot with compost – almost to the top – and firm it down
- Place the seeds – still stuck in their paper bed – on top of the compost
- Water the seeds thoroughly so that the paper is completely damp
- Cover the seeds with a thin layer of compost
- Put the pot in a bowl of water – with holes in the base of your pot the water will be drawn up through the compost
- Pop a small clear plastic bag on top of the pot and secure it with an elastic band – creating a mini greenhouse
- Place your watercress pot on a kitchen windowsill where it will get some warmth from the sun and where you will be able to check it easily
- Top up the water in the bowl every day – don’t let it dry out!
- In about 7 – 10 days you should see little seedlings coming through the compost
- Now that it has germinated you can take off the plastic bag
- The pot can stay on the windowsill or go outside in a semi-shaded place but make sure you check it every day and top up the water. Rainwater is even better for it.
- Freshen the bowl of water every now and then and don’t let it dry out!
- Your watercress will get to about 4 inches tall within 4 – 7 weeks
- Congratulations – you can now harvest it if you want BUT take a picture first and share it with us on Instagram @rectorylanecemetery
- Pick it carefully, leaving the two bottom leaves on the stalk – they will resprout and grow again – it’s called a ‘cut and cut again crop’
- Freshen the bowl of water – don’t let it ever dry out!
If you’d like to have your watercress crop judged by John Edward Lane Senior (a world-renowned Victorian horticulturalist) at our Victorian Picnic on Sunday 12th September, just bring your pot along – make sure it has your name and address on it.
Remember: The most important thing about growing watercress is that you have to KEEP IT WET!