Monday, 25 September 2017

Pond Watercress - A Lettuce Substitute?

The weather over the weekend wasn't too bad with Sunday the brighter and milder of the two days. The temperature on Sunday made it up to 19.7°C (67.5°F) a little milder than the average for late September. It's only the third time this month the temperatures managed to creep above that expected average.

Now I know it's not a difficult crop to grow but I always seem to find it difficult to keep a successional crop of lettuce going through the season. I'm usually alright with the first crop of the year. They'll get plenty of attention and more than likely be planted up to grow on and mature in our raised bed at home.
Early Lettuce Crop in Raised Bed
It's after that first crop that things go downhill. I forget to sow some more seeds, the seeds germinate only to be eaten by slugs, young plants dry out if we get a sudden spell of hot weather or if they manage to survive all these stages they get infested with whitefly or greenfly.

In late spring Sue suggested planting a sprig of watercress we'd bought from the greengrocer in the pond. Neither of us had any idea whether the watercress would grow or if it did would it be eaten by the fish in the pond. Anyhow, Sue first rooted a sprig of watercress in a jar. (Sue posted details here). It soon produced a mass of fine white roots and we decided we'd move it to the pond. I sunk a spare pond planting basket in a shallow area and the rooted watercress sprig was placed in the basket. The lip of the basket was above the water level so the watercress wasn't able to float anywhere it wanted.
Initially the sprig didn't do much growing and looked like all it was going to do was produce some flowers and die off. Then, without us really noticing, it took off, initially growing out of the pond and over the path in front the summerhouse. As it grew some had to be trimmed back to keep the path free. This still left us plenty of watercress to be used as a lettuce replacement in lunchtime sandwiches as required.
It's now given up trying to take over the path to the summerhouse and decided to try for pond domination instead. I've removed lots to the compost heap. By lots I mean bucket loads.
A lunch time sandwich usually involves a fresh tomato and cucumber from our home greenhouse and some super fresh watercress from the pond.

Now we're wondering if the watercress will survive overwinter in the pond or will we have to splash out and buy a bunch of watercress from the greengrocer next spring and start the process all over again.
Copyright: Original post from A Gardener's Weather Diary author M Garrett


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