How to Grow Garden Cress Indoors
Growing cress is not limited to the garden. You can cultivate garden cress, also known as pepper grass, indoors on a windowsill throughout the year. All you need is a small pot or tray, high-quality cress seeds and some paper towels or soil. Growing cress sprouts on moist paper towels instead of soil reduces the amount of nitrates the crop absorbs, which in turn makes the sprouts taste less bitter. Before we get into the details of how to grow garden cress sprouts indoors in the convenience of your own home, let's take a look at the nutritional benefits of these culinary sprouts.
Garden Cress Packs a Vitamin C Punch
Garden cress (Lat: Lepidium sativum) is a close relative of watercress (Nasturtium officinale) and shares many of the health benefits of watercress. Like watercress, garden cress is packed with vitamin C, with one cup (50 grams) of garden cress providing a whopping 35 milligrams of vitamin C. This represents nearly 60% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin C! Fresh garden cress sprouts are also loaded with carotenoids, mustard oil, vitamin K and antioxidants. With its peppery flavor and health boosting properties, garden cress makes an excellent addition to salads and sandwiches, steamed/boiled potatoes and soups. You can also use it as a garnish in place of parsley.
For more information about the nutritional properties of cress, see Nutritional and Health Benefits of Garden Cress.
Cultivating Garden Cress Crops Indoors
Garden cress is a fast growing cool-weather plant and the sprouts will be ready for harvest 15 to 20 days after sowing. If you want to have a constant supply of garden cress, sow seeds every 10 days and you will always have fresh garden cress available!
To successfully grow garden cress indoors on soil or on paper towels, follow the step-by-step instructions below:
- Fill a container (a small pot or tray usually works well) with sterile potting soil. Alternatively, place a few moist paper towels on a tray.
- Scatter the garden cress seeds over the soil or the paper towels. If you are using soil, press the seeds in lightly and sprinkle lightly with a little extra soil. Place the container or tray in a sunny indoor location, such as on a window sill.
- Water the container or tray gently with a water sprayer on a regular basis to keep the soil or the paper towels moist. Note that you will have to add moisture more frequently if you are growing your cress on paper towels instead of soil. Under normal conditions, the seeds will sprout in about 2-3 days.
- Begin harvesting the sprouts when they are 2-3 inches tall (in about two weeks from planting). Use kitchen shears to cut them about ½ in. above the soil.
- Garden cress is classified as a cut-and-come-again crop, meaning that once you cut it, it will just bounce back and continue to grow to yield additional harvests. You should be able to cut your cress four to five times before it goes to seed.