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Success with Cress
The secret to growing good cress is vigilance. It is one crop you don't want to let sneak by you. Harvest it when it is just big enough to pick; don't let it get too large or too strongly flavored. Succession plantings are a must, so that you always have some new cress coming along. Cool weather is kindest to watercress and a winter greenhouse is almost as good as a stream bed for growing it. It is easy to keep the soil moist when the sun is low in the sky and little water evaporates.

Formerly an old-fashioned ingredient in watercress sandwiches served at tea-time, cress is enjoying new popularity among the multitude of lush salad greens now available. New varieties offer larger leaves, various levels of bite and rapid growth. 'Micro-greens' have hit the big time, bringing sprouted seeds into vogue in chi-chi restaurants. Cress prefers cool weather and moist soil, otherwise the refreshing peppery taste becomes unpleasantly hot. Most cress will be ready for tossing into a salad or soup three to four weeks from seeding. Harvest with scissors and water with kelp or fish fertilizer to promote rapid regrowth.

Average seed life: 2 years

#2050 Broad Leaf Cress: 32 days
Here is a fast-growing, peppery-sweet cress that performs well in any garden soil and requires less coddling than standard watercress. Broad Leaf cress features large leaves up to 3” long and 1” wide, making it ideal for sandwiches! Sow Broad Leaf in the early spring in moderately fertile soil. Broad Leaf hails from Holland and is delicious in a savory spring soup: in a soup pot, sauté diced onions and garlic in a bit of olive oil till tender. Add chicken or vegetable broth, diced potatoes, white or red beans and pasta and simmer until the potatoes are tender. Add a couple large handfuls of coarsely chopped cress and season to taste. Don’t forget to add croutons and some freshly grated pecorino-romano cheese. (OP.)

Packet of 1000 Seeds / $3.25

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#2070 Wrinkled Crinkled Crumpled Cress: 20-30 days
With a name like this, it has to be good! This fast-growing, large-leafed variety has been achieved by crossing a broad-leaf with a curly type, resulting in a large, extremely curled variety. Excellent sown as baby greens, the ruffled verdant leaves provide quite a tastebud wake-up call. Wrinkled Crinkled Crumpled is marvelous in salads, sandwiches or garnishes and lends its pungent personality to Szechuan-inspired stir-fries. (OP.)

Packet of 1500 Seeds / $3.35

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#2080 Watercress: 50-55 days
Once upon a time, a Puritan cook noticed watercress growing happily in deep shade and naturally concluded it was an herb of the Devil. Accordingly, it had to be eaten with leaves which had been raised in bright sunlight, like lettuce. Our authentic Watercress variety is tangy, pungent and prefers to grow beside (or in) moving water. It grows best in cool temperatures and can only tolerate partial shade or dappled sunlight. Grow it in damp places in your garden or in a pot with a deep saucer constantly filled with water. (OP.)

Packet of 7000 Seeds / $3.55

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