Watercress is a vegetable plant that is gaining more and more popularity every year because of its spicy flavor due to the content of mustard oil. Along with gastronomic value, unpretentiousness in the care of watercress is a powerful argument in favor of growing a plant in your garden or window sill.
This alien from the Middle East, also known as the sowing bug, is a grassy annual plant in the cabbage family. It is characterized by the location of many green leaves on a thin, fragile stem.
In agriculture, the plant is characterized by unpretentiousness, cold resistance and a short growing season relative to other crops.
The combination of all these factors has led to the fact that watercress is grown all over the world, with the exception of regions with extreme climates, where even such a picky plant cannot fully grow and develop. In Africa, watercress is grown not only for cooking, but also for medical and cosmetic purposes.
Species and the best varieties
The following plant types are distinguished:
- Kinky . It boasts mainly early ripe and mid-ripening varieties. A remarkable feature of the species is rugged leaves.
- Whole leafed . A species with the widest range of ripeness onset rates: it contains both early-ripening and late-ripening plant varieties. It is notable for large leaves with solid edges and early shoots.
- Sowing season . This type of watercress is a record holder for ripening speed. Visually is the golden mean between whole-leafed and curly. A feature of the species is the delicate finish of the leaves.
Created many beautiful varieties of watercress, characterized by characteristics and properties and suitable for certain situations. The most common ones are:
- Openwork . Refers to the curly appearance of watercress. It has especially cut leaves (in connection with which it got its name) in sockets up to 17 centimeters. It belongs to the category of medium early (after 3 weeks it is already possible to harvest). She feels well, both in the summer cottage and on the windowsill in the apartment.
- Chord . A fairly late-ripening variety of planted klopovnik, which will be able to please the first crop only after a month. It is distinguished by the delicate and juicy fabric of long-leaved and serrated leaves.
- Ducat . It has large, delicate leaves with a spicy mustard taste. It belongs to the ultra-precocious category and allows you to harvest after 18-20 days.
- Fun Watercress leaves of this variety have a gentle, but pronounced aftertaste, reminiscent of horseradish. Suitable for farmland and for growing at home. Harvest can be harvested, on average, after 1 month.
- Lace . One of the most attractive representatives of the cabbage family. It has a slightly raised outlet, reaching a diameter of 12-13 centimeters, with an abundance of lace, green leaves and beautiful pink flowers. Another advantage is early ripeness: the first crop is ready for use 20 days after germination.
- Kurled . One of the earliest and highest yielding varieties: after 15-17 days you can reap the benefits. Best suited for cultivation at home and greenhouse conditions.
- Piquant . This variety grows and develops quickly enough: technical maturity occurs in 2-2.5 weeks. However, in all its glory, the sharp, mustard taste will reveal itself after a month. It has excellent yield (about 2 kilograms per 1 square meter of land), so it is an excellent choice for farm cultivation.
- Flagship . With the smallest, of all the given varieties, productivity, it is Flagman who has the fastest ripening period. You can enjoy the shoots after only 12-15 days.
- Chill . This variety belongs to the group of early ripe, which allows you to harvest after 20-25 days from the time of mass seedlings. It differs in a relatively sprawling and small (13 cm long and 15 cm in diameter) rosette, abundantly covered with green, dissected leaves. It is also characterized by the absence of anthocyanin color and milky-white flowers. It grows equally well both on the windowsill and in the garden.
A properly selected place for growing watercress and quality soil preparation work are the key to intensive growth and a rich crop of the plant.
The hot, bright sun, which almost all day casts rays around, is not a friend to watercress, because the plant prefers a diffused shadow. Therefore, it will grow well in a darkened area or in a place where the sun only happens in the morning or evening.
Due to the lack of alternatives, you can plant a plant in a well-lit area, for example, from the south side. However, in this case, at noon, it will be necessary to provide an artificial shadow.
As for the choice of soil - everything depends on the possibility of a gardener. Watercress feels equally comfortable on almost any soil, and even grows surprisingly well in sand. But on neutral or slightly acidic soil, this representative of cabbage will reveal itself in all its glory.
Particularly noteworthy are the predecessors of watercress in the selected area. The plant takes root especially well, being planted after the growth of one of the following crops:
But from planting in areas where other representatives of the cabbage family previously grew, it is better to refuse.
Direct preparation of the land in the chosen place will not be difficult, and even a beginner gardener will cope with it. Work begins in the fall: this is an ideal moment for deep digging, getting rid of weeds and fertilizing the earth. To prepare the most correct and beneficial dressing for watercress, based on 1 square meter of land you will need to take the following ingredients:
- humus - 5 kilograms;
- superphosphate - 20 grams;
- calcium chloride - 15 grams.
The onset of spring is an occasion to well open the selected area. If the soil there is heavy and dense, it is strongly recommended to re-dig it. Immediately prior to sowing, the soil should be flavored with ammonium sulfate and rotted compost.
The main rule when planting watercress is to choose the right time and observe the technique.
It is possible to plant a sowing klopovnik both in the spring (April-May), and in the fall (October). It is impossible to predict exact dates: landing dates directly depend on the specific climate in the region. You can navigate based on the following criteria:
- at least 4-5 centimeters of soil in depth - not frozen;
- the average temperature per day ranges from 6 to 8 degrees heat.
Watercress seeds are sown immediately into the soil, without any preliminary preparation. It is best to land in a row or tape method. With small dimensions of the selected area, plants can be sown as an intermediate crop (this advice is also relevant for planting in a greenhouse).
With close sowing of seeds, there is a chance to encounter an abundant carpet of vegetation in the future, which will be difficult to care for. In addition, a tight fit is often accompanied by smaller leaf sizes and an increased vulnerability of watercress to the development of diseases and the appearance of parasites. Based on this, it is necessary to sow seeds, observing a distance of 10-20 centimeters - between rows. About 0.6-0.8 g of seeds are consumed per 1 square meter of area.
A tolerant plant can survive a more compact planting. However, in this case, the gardener will need periodic thinning as the stems grow and develop.
In spring, seeds are placed in the ground at a relatively shallow depth of about 1 centimeter, in the fall season this figure can be about 1.5-2 centimeters, depending on the average winter temperature. At the end of sowing, cover the seeds with a thin layer of soil and slightly compact.
A sufficient amount of moisture and heat will ensure the early emergence of the first shoots. Already on the fifth day after sowing, you can find the first sprouts.
How to grow watercress in a greenhouse in early spring before planting the main crop and how to care for it in the climate of central Russia can be seen in the video:
The lack of a garden and land is not a reason to refuse to grow watercress. Many enthusiasts raise him in an apartment on the windowsill. And this is not surprising, because repeating their experience is as easy as shelling pears:
- Cover the bottom of the selected container (which can be a pot, tray, container, box or even a large plate) with a small (about 3 centimeters) layer of cotton wool or substrate. As the latter, you can use coconut fiber, vermiculite, sponge, sawdust, sand or a ready-made mixture for seedlings.
- Garden soil, especially from unverified sources, is better not to use. It may contain eggs of parasites that infect cabbage crops.
- Spread the seeds on the surface of a makeshift miniature plot, lightly sprinkling with a nutrient mixture.
- Moisten the seeded soil with a spray gun (it is better to take fine, that is, with the smallest drops), cover with a film and leave in a dark place until the first shoots appear.
- When biting the first sprouts, the film must be removed, and the container with seedlings should be moved to a well-lit place, for example, to the balcony, since the temperature should be maintained at about 7 degrees Celsius for several days.
- As soon as the first seedlings appear, they will need a warmer climate, so the container can be transferred to a room with a temperature of no more than 15 degrees Celsius.
- Every day, seedlings must be rotated 180º so that the first plants are evenly lit. Despite the fact that watercress loves shade, it also needs sunlight, especially at first. But, there is no need to specially arrange any additional illumination for the plant.
- As soon as the bedbug reaches at least 8 centimeters in height, it can be safely cut with scissors - such a plant is already suitable for consumption.
How to grow watercress at home on a windowsill using improvised means can be seen in the video clip:
Proper care is necessary not only for good growth of watercress, but also for the prevention of diseases in plants.
In the complete absence of precipitation, the seedlings should be watered every day, especially for the summer season. On rainy days, watering is not necessary. With cloudy weather and moderate temperature, 2-3 times a week will be enough. After watering, you must carefully loosen the soil and remove weeds at the first detection.
It is not necessary to fertilize after planting, since the growing season of the watercress is small, and the nitrates present in top dressing simply will not have time to be processed.
If you can’t do without feeding after sowing the gooseberry, then concentration should be used exclusively.
Even with all the rules for growing watercress, the plants can sometimes be affected by uninvited guests and diseases.
Only two types of parasites affect the seed bugs:
- Cruciferous flea . Tiny black bugs are able to make a sieve of leaves in the shortest possible time, however, it is quite simple to deal with them. In hot weather, the plant must be pollinated with tobacco dust. In addition, treat watercress with ice water: it will not cause damage to the plant, but insects that are afraid of low temperatures will disappear. Chemical preparations, the effect of which is aimed at a long-term pest control, are dangerous to use because of the short growing season of the watercress.
- Aphids . These small insects suck out the juice of the bug, which leads to the deformation of green leaves and wilting of the plant. Soap-soda solution will help in the fight against them. To cook it, you need to dissolve 50 grams of soap and 75 grams of soda ash in 10 liters of water (you can replace it with 200 grams of food).
There are more diseases affecting watercress than pests:
- Gray rot . It appears brown spots, first on the lower, and then on the upper leaves. A gray or brown fluffy coating appears on the damaged tissue of the stems, leaves and inflorescences. Affected inflorescences die over time. The development of the disease contributes to both high humidity and too tight landing. Safe treatment is not amenable, therefore infected plants are destroyed.
- Leaf spotting . It is manifested by the appearance of rounded or angular spots of various colors. In some cases, they are limited to a dark red rim or a light brown border. The disease is spread by wind and mechanically during the growing season. It is stored in soil on affected plant debris. In the fight, the collection and destruction of residues, timely weed control and spraying of the testes with Bordeaux liquid or copper chloride in a concentration of 1% help in the fight.
- Powdery Mildew Accompanied by a white coating on petioles, leaves, inflorescences and stems. It develops, as a rule, in thickened crops. The causative agent can also be stored in the soil on plant debris. Regular thinning of the plant, the absence of weeds and the treatment of planting with a 1% sulfur suspension will help both in prevention and in the fight against adversity.
- Downy mildew . With this disease, irregular yellow spots are visible on the watercress, limited by veins (especially on the upper side of the leaves). Gradually increase and merge, and diseased plant tissue turns brown and dies. A white or gray powdery coating appears on the underside of the leaf. In young bugs, any organ can be affected and die. In the fight will help pruning and burning sick leaves, as well as spraying the testes with 1% Bordeaux fluid.
- The black leg . The disease affects the root neck of plants, eventually leads to rotting of the roots. A constriction develops on the stem, and it bends. High humidity is a major risk factor. Timely thinning watercress, high-quality loosening of the soil - the best prevention. And with the development of the disease, the affected plants should be treated with Bordeaux liquid or copper chloride in a concentration of 1%.
Collection and storage
Some varieties of watercress are able to fully ripen in 2-2.5 weeks from the appearance of the first seedlings. You can determine the maturity of the plant by wide leaves of bright green color, which, when crushed, intensively emit a pleasant spicy, slightly mustard aroma. You can reap the first fruits when the height of the plants reaches about 15 centimeters. Harvested by cutting 10 centimeters of shoots from above.
The collected plants should be stored exclusively in the refrigerator: they quickly become unusable and lose their freshness and benefits. To keep the watercress as long as possible, preserving all the vitamins and nutrients, it is better to place it in a container with cold water, and only after that - in the refrigerator.
To collect seeds for future planting, it is necessary to remove the largest, well-developed outlets from the soil. As soon as they begin to acquire a brown shade, they should be removed to a dry room, hanging upside down. To preserve all the seeds, under the plant, spread paper, fabric, cling film, etc., on which seeds will sprinkle from the plant. Pour fully ripened and dried seeds into a bag made of natural fabric and store in a cool, dry place until the next planting.
Growing watercress is not a big deal. The only 2 conditions that a gardener needs to provide for the harvest are partial shade and periodic irrigation. And with good soil preparation and other care procedures, you can not only provide yourself with succulent shoots for a long time, but also stock up on seeds for future planting or sale.