Growing Watercress Hydroponically
Watercress plants are very easy to grow hydroponically. They require only a few basic supplies such as:
1) A container with drainage holes (a large pot works best).
You can use plastic containers or glass jars. Plastic containers will allow your plant roots to breathe better while the jar allows air circulation around them.
2) A light source – a fluorescent bulb or LED light fixture will work well.
Some growers prefer using CFL bulbs since they produce less heat than incandescent bulbs.
3) An inexpensive filter to keep out harmful bacteria and other microorganisms that cause disease problems in hydroponic systems.
Filter media can be purchased at any home improvement store.
4) A nutrient solution – some growers like to use liquid fertilizer.
Others prefer to mix their own nutrient solution. The amount of nutrients needed depends upon the size and type of plant being grown.
For example, if you’re growing lettuce, you’ll need more nutrients than if you’re growing watercress.
5) Water – it’s always good practice to have fresh water available all the time so your plants don’t get dehydrated.
It may take a few tries to get the system set up properly but it’s well worth it since you’ll be able to grow your own organic herbs and leafy greens year round.
The main thing to remember when using hydroponic systems is to keep everything clean at all times. It only takes a minute for harmful bacteria or other microorganisms to grow in these systems if they’re not properly cleaned on a regular basis.
When growing watercress hydroponically, it’s best to start with a cutting since it takes a while for them to grow into plants. Around April or May when the seeds from the previous year are ripe, place them in a paper bag.
After a couple of weeks, you’ll notice the seeds start to swell. As soon as they start to split open, they’re ready to be planted. Fill up your pot with planting soil that does not contain compost. Spread the seeds out on top of the soil and lightly cover with more soil. They should start growing in around a week.
Over the next few months, as the plants grow bigger, keep planting more soil over them to keep them covered. They grow pretty quickly so you’ll know when they’re ready to be transplanted into larger containers when they start falling over because the pots are too small for them.
When the watercress is ready to be harvested, cut off as much as you need and then replace the plants back into the larger pot so they can continue to grow. If you’re growing them hydroponically, be sure to keep the roots covered with water at all times or they’ll dry out.
In fact, if you’re growing them in soil, try to keep the soil moist but not soggy since soggy soil can cause disease problems with the plants.
As long as you keep the soil or water in the system clean, your watercress will grow quickly and you’ll have fresh organic greens on hand whenever you need them.
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Winterizing Your Liquid Organic Garden Not all plants are meant to survive through the winter. Some plants are perennials, which means that they come back every year.
Others are classified as annuals, which means that they only last for one year. When the fall comes around, it’s important to prepare your annuals so that they live long enough to produce seeds and reproduce before they die for the winter. When you deadhead a plant, you’re removing any flowers that are past their prime so that it can put more energy into producing seeds instead. This will ensure that all of the plants in your liquid organic garden will grow as much as possible before they die for the winter. If you don’t remove the dead flowers, they have the potential of producing more seeds which can end up scattering everywhere if the capsules break open. This can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on what you want to happen. For annuals that self-pollinate, there really isn’t any reason to let the plant go to waste. You could just let the plant do its thing and gather whatever seeds it can before it dies. If you want to be sure that the seeds will be a certain kind, you’ll need to choose another route. Collecting the Seeds If you want to collect the seeds, you’ll need to do so before the capsules open up and discharge their seeds. The capsules can be tough and explode when they’re ripe, so you’ll need to be patient while you wait for them to be ready for harvest. To collect the seeds, you’ll need to cut the stem just below the seed capsules and place the stem in a paper bag or a container so that you can shake it and allow the seeds to fall out. When you’re finished, you can throw out the stem and save the seeds. If any of the seeds aren’t ready to be harvested yet, you can place the paper bag in a warm place until all of the seeds are ready. Planting Your Seeds If you saved your own seeds from last year or acquired new seeds, now is the time to plant them. You can either plant them in another pot by themselves or you can include them with the rest of your plants in their original pot. Just keep in mind that the plants will be much smaller since they are just seeds and won’t have as much room to grow until next year. Winterizing If you have perennial flowers or any other plants that you know can survive through the winter, you don’t need to do anything else to prepare them for the cold months. Some liquid organic gardeners will cover up their gardens with a thick blanket of mulch once all of the plants are in place. This will help to keep the moisture in the soil and prevent the ground from freezing. It’s best to leave as much of the garden alone so that nature can take its course and allow Mother Nature to do all of the work. The winter snow will cover everything and keep your plants protected so long as you don’t live in an area that has severe temperature extremes or get a lot of snowmelts during the warmer months. If you want to be extra safe, you can also create a mini-greenhouse over your garden with a tarp or set up boards around the outside of the garden. This will protect your plants in case of an unexpected freeze or heavy snowfall.
You should be able to enjoy your liquid organic garden for many years if you take care of it properly and remember the hard work you put in during the spring months! Some vegetable plants can even survive through the winter months if they are planted deep enough and given enough protection in adverse weather conditions.
You’ve finished the gardening season and you’re ready to reap the benefits of all your hard work. Not only are you going to have fresh organic produce all summer, but you can also save your excess seeds so that you can plant more vegetables next year!
Now that’s sustainable growth!
The Green Thumb
You’ve done it again! You’ve managed to produce the most organic vegetables and plants with only the help of nature.
You’re truly a master gardener and you have a green thumb! Take a moment to pat yourself on the back for a job well done.
You’ve created a liquid organic garden that can sustain itself from year to year and produce fresh vegetables all summer. You’ll never have to go to the grocery store for fresh produce ever again!
You may also decide to expand your garden next year. You can choose to keep everything exactly the same so that you’ll have a reliable source of vegetables and fruits or you can add some permaculture elements to your garden.
For example, you could plant trees around your garden to provide a wind block during hot summer days or build an aquaponic system with fish tanks to provide nutrients for your plants. The possibilities are endless!
Sources & references used in this article:
Effects of garden and water cress juices and their constituents, benzyl and phenethyl isothiocyanates, towards benzo (a) pyrene-induced DNA damage: a model study … by F Kassie, B Laky, R Gminski… – Chemico-biological …, 2003 – Elsevier
Auxin-like Growth Activity of 3-Phenylpropionitrile from Water-Cress (Nasturtium officinale R. Br.) by AW Wheeler – Annals of Botany, 1980 – academic.oup.com
Watercress: A salad crop with chemopreventive potential by UR Palaniswamy, RJ McAvoy – Horttechnology, 2001 – journals.ashs.org
The activities of several detoxication enzymes are differentially induced by juices of garden cress, water cress and mustard in human HepG2 cells by EF Lhoste, K Gloux, I De Waziers, S Garrido… – Chemico-biological …, 2004 – Elsevier
Springhead Gardens and the archaeology of Kent watercress beds by D Eve – Arch. Cant, 1998 – kentarchaeology.org.uk