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Watercress?

May 29, 2013

Watercress?

Why not?

I decided that I didn’t need a double rice paddy system again this year and reserved the upper one for watercress.

This was fine, except I had no known source of watercress locally. I’d read that really fresh cress from the market will survive and take root and I figured this would be my bailout option if I couldn’t find some growing wild first.

In the meantime, I learned that rice regenerates along the lines of say, parsley, in that it will reseed itself even if the hapless backyard rice grower was certain he had harvested all the grain last year. The good news is that rice seedlings just sort of float around for a while before the roots get purchase in the soil, so moving them to the lower paddy was no problem.

Back to my watercress issue, or more accurately my lack of watercress issue…

Before I gave up and actually went to the produce section of Kroger and paid $ for some starter cress, I decided to check out a spring fed creek that is on the campus of the high school I graduated from far, far back in the last century. I know that section of creek very well; or at least I did back 40 years ago when I splashed around looking from crawfish for bait when fishing in the pond fed by the same spring.

A friend claimed he’d seen some of our little Guatemalan immigrants harvesting something from it in a sunny section near the baseball fields and I did recall that part as having a lot of aquatic plants in the cold flowing water. So off I went yesterday to poke around and see what I could find, careful to be as discreet as possible under cover of dark sunglasses and a massive garden shade hat. (Headlines I wanted to avoid: “Local financial professional found stealing aquatic weed from private high school campus; claims it was for food” or even worse “Local financial professional seen fighting in a roadside creek with tiny Guatemalan women over alleged watercress food source”.)

I pulled in and peeked over the bank; there before me was more watercress than the entire country of Guatemala could harvest in an afternoon. A half dozen frogs immediately jumped in, so I took this as my sign that this section of the creek wasn’t a “superfund site“. With my bucket in tow, I managed to get in and out of the creek in about 30 seconds and was soon on my way.

S0 here it is, spread out in my small upper rice paddy (or cress bed or?), already perking up and putting out tiny new leaves in just 24 hours. I will leave the misting nozzle running most of the time into the top bed in order to keep the water fresh and relatively cool; this will in turn spill into the lower paddy where the thirsty volunteer rice is coming up.

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And a closer view:

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I have read that cress likes sunshine but tastes better in cool weather (like other members of the brassicaceae family); flowering tends to be the sign that it is warm enough to turn it slightly bitter. I’m not sure if the cold spring water deters this (or cold well water here going forward) but I am optimistic after the small sampling tasted when I brought this batch home.

We’ll just have to see, won’t we?

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. May 29, 2013 3:55 pm

    Just what is it that you don’t grow Behind Cohutt’s Fence???

    • May 29, 2013 3:57 pm

      Avacados. Mrs cohutt has put that on her wish list. Ha

  2. May 29, 2013 10:06 pm

    Oh wow, I can’t quite understand why I’m so impressed, but I am. Could be the James Bond method of acquisition. I now have cress envy. I have a pond at my new farm which is covered in a scary looking red something. I have got to convert this to a water cress bed.

    BTW, I have 2 huge avocado trees on the farm now – Mrs Cohutt can be envious, but the truth is the possums have already done the deed this year, maybe next!

  3. May 30, 2013 6:20 pm

    James Bond ? Haha more like Austin Powers than JB
    My mother has since disclosed another obvious place where she may have lifted some years ago, so it must be in the genes.

    Our possums are definitely less trouble and look completely different than that critter that locked himself in the new farmhouse. And I thought the bandicoots were trouble ha

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