Originally native to Persia and cultivated since at least 400 BCE, curled cress has long been used as a medicinal plant. Also renowned for its culinary properties, curled cress is a fast-growing annual herb prized for its peppery flavour and aromas. Often used to teach biology students in schools because of its quick germination and rapid development, cress is one of the fastest-growing edible plant available.
A cold-resistant, quick-maturing variety, curled cress can be cultivated as a micro-green, as young shoots or can be left to mature. You can grow the plants in the garden and harvest continuously for up to four to five weeks or do successive sowing every two to three weeks for a constant supply of fresh greens all summer long. At maturity, the plants reach one to two feet tall and produce a dense branchy canopy on their upper part. The aging plants will bolt quickly in the heat and bear tiny 2mm wide pinkish-white blooms that are edible as well, with a savory flavour.
Fresh curled cress leaves are a classic ingredient in the traditional British version of egg sandwiches, mixed with salt and mayonnaise. Curled cress leaves are appreciated for their zesty, peppery flavour and are usually added to salads, omelettes, vegetable dishes, roasted meats and sandwiches.
- Latin Name: Lepidium sativum
- Life Cycle: Annual
- Days to Maturity: 40-50
- Planting Depth: 5 mm
- Plant Spacing: 15-20 cm
- Growth Habit: 30-45 cm tall
The cool weather annual can be sown directly outdoors four to six weeks before the last frost or grown inside year-round as a microgreen. Prepare a bed of rich, well-drained soil in a site that gets partial shade. Sow seeds evenly on the surface of the soil, cover lightly and tamp down. Water well and keep the soil moist. With temps around 7 degrees, sprouts should appear in two weeks. Thin seedlings to 15 cm apart. Keep the garden bed well-weeded to cut down on competition for water and nutrients.
Mature plants will offer up delicious greens that can be plucked continuously from the plant. Otherwise, the plant itself can be cut, leaving the crown, and harvested a few more times over the course of a growing season.
Plant intervals of seeds early in the spring for a summer harvest and late in the summer for a fall harvest, as cress doesn’t stand up well to heat and sun. Mulch and water well during the hot months to keep the roots cool. Cress can easily be overwintered in a greenhouse or cold frame, providing fresh greens through the cold months of the year.
It’s a snap to grow cress as a microgreen indoors. Sow the seeds densely on the surface of moist soil in your container of choice. Mist the seeds well and put them in a bright place, either a sunny windowsill or under grow lights. Keep the soil moist. Bottom watering is preferred to avoid mold or fungus. The seedlings will reach a harvestable size in about two weeks. Snip them with scissors or a sharp kitchen knife and enjoy the tender and tasty young shoots.
- Very rich in vitamin A and K, all parts of the plant are edible.
- Curled cress should be consumed in moderation by pregnant women.
- Cress seeds will remain viable for 4 years if stored in a cool, dark place, ideally between 4 and 10⁰C. After that, the germination rate may start to go down.
OUR SEED GUARANTEE
You know that a lush, fruitful garden needs good soil, frequent watering, and sunlight to grow, but it’s the seeds that really make the harvest.
Picked and bagged for 2023 the vast majority of our seeds have germination rates of over 85%. The seeds are all-natural, non-GMO, non-hybrid, untreated, and open-pollinated for seed saving.
We have put a lot of thoughts into the design and packaging of our seed packets. Our seeds are all carefully packed in food grade kraft paper/aluminium zipper lock bags, and then are shipped in eco-friendly padded mailers.
We heat-seal each of our seed packet for even more protection from moisture, odour and light, allowing you to store your seeds for up to 3x longer than paper or plastic. Plant them all, germinate some indoors, save some for next season - it’s up to you!