SAN ANTONIO – A lesser-known superfood has a perfect 100 score on the CDC’s list of powerhouse fruits and vegetables and it turns out — it’s pretty easy to grow at home.
Watercress is an ancient green that has been eaten by humans for millennia. Its taste is described as being similar to arugula and horseradish, which means it’s got a bit of a peppery flavor.
According to Medical News Today, consuming watercress can help with the prevention and treatment of cancer, lowering blood pressure, treating diabetes, maintaining healthy bones and providing a multitude of dietary nitrates.
Healthline notes that one cup of watercress contains just 4 calories (if you’re counting) and a whopping 106% of your daily recommended vitamin K, which is needed for blood clotting and the building of bones.
Before you go hunting down watercress at your nearest grocery store, you might consider growing it at home.
There are tons of ways to grow the superfood in the San Antonio area and the best part is - there’s still time for direct sowing if you want to grow it outside.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Hardiness Zone Map, Bexar County sits in zones 8b and 9a. These maps are useful for determining what gardeners should be growing and which plants are most likely to thrive in that location.
For Zone 8b in northern Bexar County, the earliest suggested planting date for watercress is March but FrostDate suggests waiting until April. The last month to plant watercress and expect a good harvest is August.
FrostDate notes that the planting dates for Zone 9a are a bit longer. The earliest suggested planting date for watercress is February but March is recommended for the best yield. The last month to plant and expect a good harvest is September.
It’s important to remember that planting dates aren’t hard and fast rules you have to live by, but more like suggestions on how to yield the best crop.
Homes and Gardens lists multiple ways to grow watercress at home and notes that the vegetable should be ready to harvest as early as four weeks from sowing.
“If sowing watercress in a pot, sow seeds thinly on pre-saturated, good quality compost,” according to Homes and Gardens. “There is no need to cover the watercress seeds with compost as they will germinate happily on the surface – this usually takes between seven to 14 days.”
If you don’t have compost you can also use well-draining gardening soil.
“Place the container in a saucer of water and keep it topped up to keep the soil moist,” Homes and Gardens suggests. “If sowing seeds into the garden, choose a sunny site and dig in compost to about 6-8 inches, then sow the seeds thinly in the area.”
The perennial plant will thrive in moist conditions and can be fed with a kelp-based fertilizer.
Want to know how to grow watercress from cuttings, in a pond or on a windowsill? Homes and Gardens shares details on those growing options too.