Herb of the month for July: Garden cress

Garden cress (Lepidium sativum) is a fast-growing, edible herb, with a peppery, tangy flavour and aroma. It’s a natural and healthy way of supplying the family with vitamins A. B, C, K, and Manganese. 

Garden cress can be sown all year round but does better in cool weather. As a mid-winter crop, it can be sprouted on water-soaked paper towels and grown on in containers, hanging baskets or troughs in a sunny, sheltered area. Feed with a liquid fertiliser, like Margaret Roberts Organic Supercharger, at half strength after planting out. 

It is ready for harvesting within 14 days, when the leaves are 5cm long. Sow successive crops every two weeks. 

As a spring crop it can be grown in the garden, in fertile, well prepared rich soil. Scatter sow or in thick rows. 

It can also be inter-planted with other low growing vegetables and herbs such as chives and mint. Keep the soil evenly moist during germination and growth, and don’t let the roots dry out. 

If used as a microgreen garnish, cut off the tops with sharp scissors and sprinkle over salads,  vegetables, egg dishes, fish and chicken as well as pizzas and pastas. Another way of harvesting is to thin out the plants and use the thinned plants. 

Published in The Gardener