I would imagine that every single one of us has at some point in our lives sprinkled some cress seed on a piece of wet tissue paper and waited to see what happens. There is, however slightly more to cress than this childhood experiment.
There are three varieties of cress to grow, Common, Curled or Greek, the differences between them are slight and so any of them will be more than suitable for trying out. Mustard Cress is also available to grow in the same way.
Cress can indeed be grown by thoroughly wetting (but not water logging) some tissue or cotton wool and sprinkling the seed over, gently press the seed in will ensure contact. If sowing into a container with 1-2 inch sides (2-5 cm) then stretching clingfilm over the top will ensure that moisture wont escape and it can stay on until the leaves get close to touching it. If you choose to grow the cress in something more ornate or fun (in the case of childrens projects) then ensure that the growing medium does not dry out.
Germination will take place quite quickly, sometimes within 24 hours, and young shoots soon appear. Within 5 to seven days, the shoots will be long enough to snip off and can be used in salads and sandwiches.
Did you know that you can also grow cress for longer than a couple of weeks? It wouldnt normally grow for much longer on tissue or cotton wool as there are no nutrients at all and the plant will soon die. If, however, the seed is sown on the surface of damp compost in a 5 or 6 inch pot (12 to 15cm), it can be allowed to grow to its full potential.
Once allowed to grow on naturally. Cress will grow to about 6 inches tall (15cm) and has slightly feathered, divided leaves, it should achieve this in about four to five weeks, much longer than that and it will start to flower - not that thats a problem as the flowers are edible too! Cut the leaves as you need and enjoy the mustard like warmth in salads and garnishes all year around.
Ive been gardening for as long as I can remember, my first earliest memory being planting Graham Wardseeds in my Grandfathers prestige flower bed and having a prize lettuce growing there, which he proudly left to show everyone.
Since then, gaining knowledge and experience from both my Grandfather and my Father, Ive continued to garden, both as a hobby and later on as a professional gardener and landscaper for 12 years. I love all aspects of it, from the design and build, to the planting out of summer borders with plants youve either grown from seed or raised from plugs. Unusual varieties always catch my eye and Im keen to try growing them, even if sometimes it means learning from my mistakes.