I would like to know how to grow watercress in our small stream in th
garden. The stream has a stony bottom and has never dried up i
living memory. I am located in the South of England.
Stony bottom doesn't sound good. The roots need to embed themselves in
a muddy bottom. A potential problem is the watercress being washed
away after heavy rain.
The commercial watercress beds that I saw in Somerset in my childhood
solved both problems by a low dam right across the stream - little
more than 20 cm high. This allowed mud to accumulate and lowered the
erosive capability of flood water.
Alternative for a few plants is to fill a large, flat ceramic pot with
soil. Use one with holes in the bottom to let in the water. Plant the
watercress in it, and almost submerge the pot in an embayment you dig
by the side of the stream.
Don't know what happens to watercress in winter in England. In Sydney
it is perennial.
Where in the south? Most watercress grown in the UK is grown in Hampshire
AFAIK. Alton/Petersfield area is prime. The restored steam railway is called
the watercress line. Go and visit, they may share their secrets with you.
also googling "Vitacress" may help.
Besides the advice (all good) by Richard, you can make a bed behind the
dam, and then you will have a large area to grow watercress while
further minimizing losses during floods. I did build the bed (4 by 8
feet, but it should be much larger if you have space, possibly 10 by
10), the watercress sprouted easily and grew strongly, but then the
stream dried and it all died. Next year some more sprouted on their
own, but when the stream dried, that was it. Now the bed is all grass.
Yes, you need mud and a constant stream of water. Finally, if you make
the bed as far upstream as possible, plants that come loose during a
flood will root downstream and colonize the banks. Even in a few
months, I had several instances of that happening.
My grandparents grew watercrest growing up in our backyard I remember. They
just dug a pit about 4 x 10 and about a foot deep. lined it with a heavy
plastic, filled with dirt and kept it watered a lot. They alwasy had
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