Thursday, March 15

Watercress experiment - success

A few readers have asked me to write a post explaining how I went about growing watercress in our garden pond.

Maybe firstly I should describe our garden pond. It is approximately 4m x 2m (14' x 6½') and at its deepest is about 1.5m (5') deep.
Fish live in the pond although at the moment you wouldn't know it as, during the winter months, they rather sensibly lie low. As soon as the temperatures warm they will be back begging to be fed every time we are by the pond. Who says fish have no memory?

The pond is filtered for the benefit of the fish.
I don't know whether any of the above affects the growth of the watercress but I do know others have grown watercress in smaller, unfiltered ponds and, like Mark, even in tubs of moist soil. 

The following describes what worked for us and in no means is the only way to grow watercress. Maybe others can describe how they achieved success in the comments.

We bought a bag of watercress from the greengrocer. I placed just one piece in a glass of water.
The roots quickly developed and within three days there was a good root system.
Previously we had placed a pond basket in the pond to protect some frog spawn from the fish and so we decided to pop the sprig of watercress into the confines of the basket in order to stop it floating away.
Shortly after planting or rather throwing in the pond the sprig of watercress looked rather sad and we decided that it was just going to die. We ignored it so there are no photographs.

Surprisingly after an unpromising start, the tiny shoot must have settled in to its new home and we ended up with a huge watercress patch.
It quite rapidly made its way across the pond and also the surrounding paved area. To avoid it taking over, Martyn had to keep removing huge amounts of it. He has literally removed bucketfuls. Imagine the value of that lot in supermarket terms.
I wasn't sure how long it would survive over winter but it has kept going through one of our worst winters for quite a while.
During the  freezing, cold, snowy spell at the end of February and the beginning of March the temperature dropped to -5.8C (21.6F). For 10 days the temperature never rose above freezing.
Today (15 March), after having taken all that the weather has thrown at it this winter, the watercress is looking like this.
It looks fairly battered and worse for wear but it seems alive and still in need of some drastic cutting back.

If it turns out that it doesn't survive we will certainly be repeating the process this year.


26 comments:

  1. My Watercress (in pots in the coldframe) was severely frosted 2 weeks ago, but is beginning to revive. It's obviously robust stuff!

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    1. It certainly seems to be, Mark

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  2. I'm very impressed, looks like watercress is the type of plant you can pop in your pond and ignore with fabulous results. Just wish I had a pond now :)

    Angela

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    1. That just about sums it up, Angela. You could try in a tub of water.

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  3. Intriguing. Thanks for the information. I'd never even considered growing watercress.

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    1. We didn’t expect it to be so prolific, tpals

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  4. I grew watercress from seed a few years ago in a big container on the allotment. It needed plenty of watering and did very well. It always disappeared during the winter, but grew again in the spring. Last year it didn't grow, but I think that's because it got neglected. I will probably sow more this year now that you've reminded me

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    1. Just rooting a sprig from a packet from the greengrocer that we intended to eat anyway meant we really got our massive crop free, Margaret

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  5. A timely reminder. Not sure our bucket pond will be able to cope if I am successful in water sprouting some!

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    1. You’ll just need to keep culling, Mal and I’m sure you will easily root a sprig.

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  6. So fresh, thanks for the lesson

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  7. I've grown it from seed in a pot, just ordinary multi-purpose soil stood in a saucer which I kept topped up with water. Love the idea of popping a bit of supermarket watercress into the pond though. My pond is small (and currently chock-a-block with frogs) but I might give it a go, we all love watercress here.

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    1. Your frogs survived the freeze then? No sign of any here yet.

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  8. Lovely update thank you for sharing blessing to you both

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  9. How fascinating! Definitely something I will try in the future. I'm not surprised that it survived your cold spell. There were a few spots that my parents and I would go to each year to pick watercress along the sides of a stream when I was young. Even with our -20C (and colder) temps, it came back each and every year.

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    1. I hope ours is as hardy as the pond froze again last night, Margaret

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  10. You make it look so easy! And I guess it is if you have a nice pond like yours.

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    1. It was easy, Michelle. Unbelievably so.

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  11. M. Loves watercress in his salads so perhaps I should try it this summer

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    1. I'd definitely have a go, Jayne.

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  12. I found this fascinating, Sue. I've a fair few plants in my pond now and I don't expect watercress would be hardy up here anyway so I won't try it. Great experiment though - well done!

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    1. Margaret said that it survived their -20C temperatures, Shirley. Even if it didn’t it’s worth growing as an annual.

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  13. Thanks for this update, Sue. I use a lot of watercress in salad and soup so will definitely have a go at growing my own. Interesting that it can be grown in moist soil - I've seen watercress growing in waterbeds in Hampshire when I drove that way to my parents' home.

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    1. We use it in stir fries and things like egg fried rice too, Caro. We use it far more now that we grow it. We must have weeded out a fortune’s worth of it. Have a go.

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