Gathered in the seedling stage and used for making sandwiches, or as a salad component, cress has a flavour all its own. Light soil, moisture and warmth are the three requirements.
Varieties: Curled and Plain.
An ounces of seed will sow two square yards.
Ready for Use.
Cress is ready for cutting about sixteen days after sowing. It can be had the year round if sowings are made indoors from October to March. If it is required to go with mustard it should be sown about four days earlier than the latter.
As a crop, cress can be snatched from between rows of other plants not yet occupying their full allotted space. The soil surface should be raked very finely and then be watered in readiness for sowing.
When and How to Sow.
Small sowings, at intervals, can be made in the open from late March to September. Sow the seed thickly broadcast, on the surface of the moistened ground, press it down with a piece of flat, smooth wood, then place over it a sheet of paper, or an old mat, until seedlings appear; the darkness will assist germination and hungry birds will be baffled.
Sowing in Boxes.
It is not necessary to sow in the open ground during spring and summer; boxes may be used. They are prepared in the same way as for winter indoor sowings – filled fairly firmly with light, gritty soil, with a level surface; the soil is made wet (chill first taken off the water); seed is sown, touching, all over the surface and lightly pressed down. The box is covered with glass and paper until germination has taken place, when exposure to full light becomes necessary.
A temperature of about 55 degrees is needed for the production of cress when outdoor sowings are not possible – that is from October to March. Inside the sunny window of a living-room at that temperature will do as well as in a heated greenhouse.
Change of Soil.
It is not wise to attempt to take more than two crops of cress from the same box of soil or from the same small patch outdoors; give the third in succession a change of site or a freshly filled box.
Before sowing a box or outdoor patch a second time, scrape off top ½ in. of soil and replace with fresh.
How to Gather Cress. The seedlings should be not more than about 2 in. high when gathered. Cutting, ½ in. above soil level, can be done with a sharp knife or sharp scissors.
Preparing for Table.
If cress is cut cautiously there should be no grit or soil entangled with the lower ends. But to be on the safe side wash the cress thoroughly, in cold water, before use.