Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Curled Cress (Lepidium sativum)
Curled Cress / Garden cress also known as peppergrass (Lepidium sativum) is a fast-growing, edible plant botanically related to watercress and mustard and sharing their peppery, tangy flavor and aroma. Garden cress is a green perennial plant used as a leaf vegetable consumed by humans typically as a garnish. Undisturbed garden cress can grow to a height of two feet with minimal maintenance. When mature, garden cress produces white flowers, and small seedpods.
How to grow
Garden cress is easily grown from seed sprouted on a moist paper towel. Sow shallowly every 2 weeks from early spring to early fall, 10 seeds per inch; dark may aid germination. It prefer semi-shade, may also be grown indoors throughout the year. Protect from full sun in warm summers, as this salad vegetable fares best in cool conditions. Germination takes place within 24 hours.
Edible shoots are typically harvested a week after germination when they are between two and four inches tall. To harvest seeds, allow seedheads to dry on the plants, then remove.
It has a sharp peppery flavor and is important source of calcium, iron, vitamin A and vitamins C and E.
Eat raw as salads and make cress sandwiches. Use it in place of parsley as a garnish, and delight in the taste as a breath refresher after the meal.