Growing Cress

Botanical Name: Lepidium Sativum

This peppery herb from the Mediterranean is nutrient-dense and full of vitamins A and C. Its sprouts add flavour and texture frequently used in salads, sandwiches, and garnishes. Cress grows easily indoors and adds a crisp freshness to a variety of dishes.

Do you want to learn about growing cress? If so, let’s dive in.

  • Growing Cress
  • Growing Cress
Planting Guide Image

Cress Planting Guide

Method

Direct

Sowing Depth

4 mm

Season

All Year

Germination

10 – 14 days @ 7 – 15 °C

Hardiness / Life Cycle

Hardy Annual

Row Spacing

4 cm

Plant Spacing

4 cm

Position

Part or full sun, moist soil

Days Until Maturity

25 days

Storage

Container in fridge with damn paper towel. Use quickly.

When to Plant Cress in Australia

What growing
region am I in?
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Cool Plantable in Jan Plantable in Feb Plantable in Mar Plantable in Apr Plantable in May Plantable in Jun Plantable in Jul Plantable in Aug Plantable in Sep Plantable in Oct Plantable in Nov Plantable in Dec
Temperate Plantable in Jan Plantable in Feb Plantable in Mar Plantable in Apr Plantable in May Plantable in Jun Plantable in Jul Plantable in Aug Plantable in Sep Plantable in Oct Plantable in Nov Plantable in Dec
Sub-Tropical Plantable in Jan Plantable in Feb Plantable in Mar Plantable in Apr Plantable in May Plantable in Jun Plantable in Jul Plantable in Aug Plantable in Sep Plantable in Oct Plantable in Nov Plantable in Dec
Tropical Plantable in Jan Plantable in Feb Plantable in Mar Plantable in Apr Plantable in May Plantable in Jun Plantable in Jul Plantable in Aug Plantable in Sep Plantable in Oct Plantable in Nov Plantable in Dec
Arid Plantable in Jan Plantable in Feb Plantable in Mar Plantable in Apr Plantable in May Plantable in Jun Plantable in Jul Plantable in Aug Plantable in Sep Plantable in Oct Plantable in Nov Plantable in Dec
Cool Temperate Sub-Tropical Tropical Arid
Jan Plantable in Jan Plantable in Jan Plantable in Jan Plantable in Jan Plantable in Jan
Feb Plantable in Feb Plantable in Feb Plantable in Feb Plantable in Feb Plantable in Feb
Mar Plantable in Mar Plantable in Mar Plantable in Mar Plantable in Mar Plantable in Mar
Apr Plantable in Apr Plantable in Apr Plantable in Apr Plantable in Apr Plantable in Apr
May Plantable in May Plantable in May Plantable in May Plantable in May Plantable in May
Jun Plantable in Jun Plantable in Jun Plantable in Jun Plantable in Jun Plantable in Jun
Jul Plantable in Jul Plantable in Jul Plantable in Jul Plantable in Jul Plantable in Jul
Aug Plantable in Aug Plantable in Aug Plantable in Aug Plantable in Aug Plantable in Aug
Sep Plantable in Sep Plantable in Sep Plantable in Sep Plantable in Sep Plantable in Sep
Oct Plantable in Oct Plantable in Oct Plantable in Oct Plantable in Oct Plantable in Oct
Nov Plantable in Nov Plantable in Nov Plantable in Nov Plantable in Nov Plantable in Nov
Dec Plantable in Dec Plantable in Dec Plantable in Dec Plantable in Dec Plantable in Dec
What growing
region am I in?

Introduction

Cress, with its distinct peppery taste and nutritional richness, is a delightful addition to Australian gardens. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the nuances of growing cress, covering everything from seed germination to common issues and the joy of harvesting fresh cress from your own garden.

Growing Cress from Seed

Cress Seed Selection

Begin your cress journey with high-quality seeds. Opt for reputable suppliers, selecting common garden cress or watercress varieties. Australian climates are well-suited for cress cultivation, providing an excellent environment for germination.

Sowing Cress Seeds

Prepare well-draining soil, with a neutral pH, and sow cress seeds directly into the ground. Aim for a spacing of 2-3 cm between seeds. Water the soil consistently, ensuring it stays moist during the critical germination phase.

Soil Quality and pH

Cress thrives in soil with a pH ranging from 6.0 to 7.0. The soil should be rich in organic matter, providing the necessary nutrients for robust growth. Regularly test and amend the soil to maintain optimal conditions.

Growing Cress Indoors

Container Selection

For those with limited outdoor space, growing cress indoors is an ideal solution. Choose shallow containers with proper drainage to prevent waterlogging. Ensure the containers are placed in a well-lit area, receiving at least 6-8 hours of sunlight daily.

Potting Mix and Fertiliser

Opt for a high-quality potting mix enriched with organic matter. While cress is not demanding in terms of feeding, you can provide a balanced liquid fertilizer during the growing season to enhance its nutritional content.

Indoor Light and Temperature

Maintain indoor temperatures between 15-20°C for optimal cress growth. Position containers near windowsills, balconies, or under artificial grow lights to ensure an adequate light source.

Growing Cress Without Soil

Hydroponic Cress Cultivation

Explore soil-less cultivation methods by growing cress hydroponically. Utilise nutrient-rich water solutions to nourish the plants. Hydroponics provides precise control over nutrient levels, fostering vigorous growth.

Selecting Hydroponic Systems

Experiment with various hydroponic systems such as Nutrient Film Technique (NFT) or Deep Water Culture (DWC) for growing cress. These systems offer optimal nutrient delivery and a soil-free environment, ideal for controlled indoor environments.

Growing Cress with Cotton Wool

Experiment with a soil-free alternative by growing cress with cotton wool. Moisten the cotton wool thoroughly and spread it in a shallow container. Place the cress seeds on the moist cotton wool, ensuring they have adequate contact with the surface.

Keep the cotton wool consistently moist. Regular misting or using a spray bottle will maintain the required moisture levels. This method offers a clean and convenient medium for indoor cress cultivation.

How Much Water Does Cress Need

Watering Requirements

Cress requires consistently moist conditions, whether grown in soil, cotton wool, or hydroponically. Water the plants when the top layer of soil or medium feels dry to the touch. Ensure proper drainage to prevent waterlogging, a common issue in cress cultivation.

Watering Frequency

Maintain a regular watering schedule, adjusting it based on environmental conditions such as temperature and humidity. Adequate moisture is crucial for sustained cress growth and prevents the onset of problems related to drought stress.

Cress Companion Planting

Maximise the benefits of companion planting by growing cress alongside compatible plants. Cress pairs well with basil, mint, or nasturtiums, enhancing flavour, repelling pests, and promoting overall garden health.

Encourage biodiversity in your Australian garden by incorporating a variety of companion plants. This not only supports the health of your cress but also creates a more resilient and balanced growing environment.

Common Problems with Growing Cress

While cress is generally robust, it may encounter challenges like damping-off, aphid infestations, or fungal diseases. Ensure proper ventilation, spacing, and regular monitoring to prevent these issues.

Promptly address problems by removing affected plants, adjusting watering practices, or using natural remedies such as neem oil for pest control. A vigilant eye on your cress crop is key to a successful harvest.

Harvesting Cress

Optimal Harvest Time

Harvest cress when the leaves are young and tender, usually within 2-4 weeks after sowing. Use clean, sharp scissors or shears to cut the leaves just above the soil line. Regular harvesting promotes bushier growth and ensures a continuous supply.

Post-Harvest Care

After harvesting, store cress leaves in the refrigerator for up to a week. Rinse them thoroughly before use to remove any dirt or debris. Enjoy the freshly harvested cress in salads, sandwiches, or as a garnish for various dishes.

Conclusion

Growing cress, whether from seed or in alternative mediums like cotton wool or hydroponics, offers a rewarding experience for Australian gardeners. By understanding the intricacies of cultivation, addressing potential issues, and exploring companion planting, you can consistently enjoy a bountiful harvest of this versatile and nutritious herb. Happy growing in your Australian garden!