Garden cress provides a wonderful peppery bite to salads and—another bonus—it just might be the easiest plant to grow in the world.
The simplest way to grow it is in shallow flats of potting mix on a deck—or in a sunny window indoors in winter. It can even be grown on constantly damp paper towels or hemp bags.
Garden cress, a relative of watercress, germinates and grows incredibly quickly. Within 5 to 10 days, sprouts topped with tiny, dark green leaves will be 2 to 3 inches tall and ready for harvest as tasty microgreens.
Add these nutrient-rich fresh sprouts to salads, omelets, sandwiches or any other dish that needs a watercress-like kick.
Common name: Garden cress or pepper cress
Botanical name: Lepidium sativum
Plant type: Annual
Height: 12 to 18 inches (harvest when just a few inches tall)
• Sun: Full sun or partial shade
• Soil: Any kind
• Moisture: Evenly moist
• Mulch: None
• Pruning: None
• Fertilizer: None
Pests and diseases
• Sow seeds thickly (don’t presoak) in damp potting mix or on a wet paper towel in a shallow flat; if desired, put the flat in a dark spot for a few days to encourage succulent white shoots.
• Start small batches of seeds every few weeks for a continuous harvest.
• Garden cress prefers cool temperatures, so it may not grow well outdoors during the heat of midsummer.
All in the family
• Garden cress is a member of the mustard family (Brassicaceae), a large family that includes many familiar vegetable crops and garden weeds, including watercress (Nasturtium officinale).
• Garden cress is related to pepperweed, a common garden weed, and can, in fact, become weedy itself if allowed to reseed.
Where to buy
• Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, rareseeds.com
• Park Seed, parkseed.com
• Seed Corner, seedcorner.com