Gardeners' World: Monty Don shares tips for planting seeds
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Watercress is a quick-growing, perennial – long-lasting – plant which is native to Europe and Asia. Many people use it in salads, soups and in sandwiches due to its far-ranging health benefits. Watercress is relatively easy to grow, and despite being aquatic does not need a vast expanse of water to thrive.
Watercress is regarded as somewhat of a superfood, packed with nutrients such as Vitamin K and Vitamin C.
Watercress also contains high levels of iron, which is unusual in vegetables.
Iron is necessary to convert energy in our food to be active and essential for growth and development.
As well as this watercress can help skin health due to Isothiocyanate (ITC), and lower blood pressure as it also contains nutrients.
Read More: How to prepare your garden for spring – 8 essential tips
So how do you grow watercress?
Watercress is the perfect plant for gardeners with not much space, as it can grow in containers and does not need direct sunlight.
All you need is a large pot and a shaded area to have an ideal growing location for watercress.
Growing watercress in containers is actually a safer option than growing it in water, as you can keep the water fresh and free of any pollutants or bacteria.
When growing watercress outdoors, you should plant it during March or April, so long as the average temperature is around 8C to 15C.
As the name might suggest, watercress needs to be kept moist all year round.
The plant will thrive in damp or wet soil or a container that sits in a deep saucer filled with water.
You can sow seeds from mid-January to the end of March in pots or trays with moist seed sowing compost.
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Place these in a propagator or warm place covered with a plastic bag, and maintain a temperature of 8C to 15C
When seedlings are large enough to handle, you should transplant them into 7.5 to 9cm (3-3.5in) pots.
Next, you need to gradually acclimatise them to outdoor conditions for 10 to 14 days and plant out after the risk of frost.
Make sure each plant is between 10 to 15cm (4-6in) apart.
Lovethegarden.com explains watercress plants need permanently damp soil, so make sure you use bulky organic matter, like garden compost or planting compost, which you should incorporate well into the soil before planting.
To grow watercress in a container, you should plant three to four seedlings in a 30cm (12in) tub or pot.
Make sure the soil stays damp with regular watering.
You could also buy watercress from a supermarket or shop.
If opting for this method, try and look for plants that have already started to produce little white roots.
Then you should put them in small pots.
When buying watercress to plant, lovethegarden.com explains if you find some without roots you can put the stems in a water-filled jam jar or bottle.
Leave them in the jar until roots start to form, then you can add them to a pot.
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