|Over the garden gate|
known as Nasturium officianle (Cruciferae), watercress is common throughout
most of Europe but not in the Scottish Highlands or Central Wales.
There is evidence that this remarkable plant has been in use as a medicinal
herb since the first century, although cultivation on a commercial scale
did not start until the early nineteenth. It contains iron, iodine,
copper, calcium and potassium and is a well-known and rich source of Vitamin
I was delighted
to learn that recent thinking refutes the long-held myth that watercress
will only grow in a source of clear, running water. It will in fact
grow anywhere that is reasonably moist. I am growing it in a child's
sunken paddling pool in my back garden, filled with ordinary garden soil.
I drilled two small holes in the bottom of the pool to prevent the contents
becoming too wet and turning stagnant. We are fortunate to live in
"watercress country", and the local greengrocer sells bunches of the plant
complete with a few roots. I simply split a bunch into four clumps
and planted it, and off it went! I fear it might eventually find
its way out of the pool and become a problem, but I'll deal with that when
I get there. Seeds can be obtained from
Seeds. The plant is a hardy perennial and requires little attention.
Shoots should be harvested just above the ground, leaving the roots to
sprout again. It can be gathered any time that the ground is not
frozen, but is said to be at its best in May and June. The plant
is covered in small white flowers from May to October.
Seeds, flowers, leaves and stems can be used.
Here are the primary
problems that watercress is claimed to be of assistance with:
|Baldness||Skin complaints||Protection against infection|
|Mouth and intestinal bacteria||Thyroid problems||Kidney Stones and other problems|
|Cancer relief/cure||Nervous ailments||Weak eyesight|
|Breast milk production||Infertility||Rheumatism and stiff joints|
|Poor appetite||Tuberculosis||Bronchial disorders|
|Dropsy||Diabetes||Urinary tract disorders|
It has also been
claimed that it is an aphrodisiac, though I haven't noticed personally!
Eating two handfuls of the raw, fresh herb (washed) each day is recommended
and will help to strengthen the gums and prevent bleeding.
As an alternative, juice can be extracted from the plants by liquidizing
and sieving. Recommended daily dosage is 1-2 fluid ounces.
For those who find the taste repugnant (it is bitter), an equal quantity
of cold milk can be added. Externally a poultice can be used (500gms
of pulp mixed with 30 grammes of salt). A tablespoon of raw seeds
consumed in the morning is reputed to cure worm infestation.
COSMETIC and OTHER USES
The juice can be used as a hair tonic to strengthen and thicken the hair. Bruised leaves can be rubbed onto the skin to cure blemishes and (maybe?) freckles.
for Hair Growth
on the Potions and Lotions page
Add the plant to
salads and use as a garnish as often as possible. In winter, when
the texture and flavour of the plants is not quite so good, soups and sauces
can be made, see:
on the Hedgerow Recipes page.
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