The Greek General Xenophon had his soldiers eat water cress as a tonic to help build their strength. Romans and Anglo Saxons believed that eating watercress would ward off baldness. The woman of the time believed it would "restore youth".
Today we know that cruciferous vegetables provide antioxidants that help fight cancer. Additionally watercress contains a healthy dose of vitamin A and C. The various health benefits have led to production of watercress supplements. Most researchers would agree eating the real deal offers far more to further your health than popping a pill.
The most common uses for watercress is in fresh salads, soups and watercress sandwiches. The watercress should be washed and dried in a salad spinner. The thicker stems should be removed and just the succulent leaves are eaten.
My watercress growing project started when we purchased some of the hydroponically grown cress at the grocery store. I whacked off the leaves of the cress, made my salad and tossed the root end in the compost pile.
A couple of weeks later, when turning the compost pile I saw a tiny leaf sticking out of the soil. I dug around it only to find it was coming from the root base I had thrown in the pile a couple of weeks before. The timing was perfect because I had just planted a bed of lettuce and arugula. I had a perfect spot that got a combination of sun and shade. I kept it well watered and within a few days, more leaves were sprouting. So this started my watercress patch.
If your grocery store has watercress with roots
attached then your job is pretty easy. Just cut the leaves off and use those for your salad or other recipe. If you don't have time to plant your cress right away just sit it in a dish with water and it will keep a few days until you have time.
Watercress wants loose, rich, moist soil. You can plant it in a pot or right in the ground. It just has to live in a place were you can water it frequently.
My plant is in a raised bed with an automatic drip system but if you are consistent with watering a drip system is not a requirement.