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Cress is considered a classic among green herbs. It is a popular and healthy herb that provides an extra portion of vitamins and minerals, especially in winter. Cultivation of this herb is child's play, possible at any time of the year and on almost any moist surface, even on conventional cotton wool or kitchen roll. After just a few days, the young plants can be harvested and eaten immediately or give dishes that certain something.

sowing time

In contrast to sowing in the garden or in soil, which is possible from May to September, there is no best sowing time for sowing without soil. This herb can be grown all year round in a variety of substrates. Cress seeds are very productive and the seedlings should be used up as quickly as possible because their shelf life is limited. In order to be able to harvest fresh plants again and again, it is advisable not to sow too many seeds at once. It is best to sow again and again at regular intervals.

Cultivation possibilities without soil

Hardly any herb is as easy to grow as cress. You don't even need soil for this, it can be sown on almost any surface as long as it is moist. The required materials are usually available in every household.

  • A flat bowl as a culture vessel
  • Spray bottle for moistening the seed and the subsoil
  • Some cotton wool, kitchen roll or a piece of plant fleece as a replacement substrate
  • Also cellulose handkerchiefs or toilet paper can be used

Advantages and disadvantages of these materials

All of these materials have the advantage that the fine seeds can settle well in the structure of these materials. If they are handled properly, there is no risk of them rotting or suffocating due to excessive moisture. The seeds draw the required amount of water from the absorbent substrate.

The disadvantage is that the fine roots grow firmly on the cotton wool or kitchen paper, so that the upper parts of the plant have to be cut off for harvesting. Another disadvantage is that this substrate substitute dries out relatively quickly, so that it has to be watered more frequently. If you want to grow green cabbage more often or in larger quantities, commercial germination aids or so-called germination devices are available. These can be germ sieves, germ jars, so-called sprout towers or the well-known cress egg.

Cultivation on cotton or paper towels

  • Cotton or kitchen paper is the simplest method of growing fresh cress without soil
  • First, line a flat bowl with cotton wool or several towels of kitchen paper
  • Then moisten the whole thing well
  • There should be no water in the bowl
  • Distribute the cress seeds generously on the moist soil
  • Distribute the seeds as evenly as possible
  • They should not be on top of each other
  • Close together is not a problem
  • Now moisten the seeds again
  • Ideally using a spray bottle and a fine mist

Once the seeds have been sown and the culture medium, i.e. cotton wool or kitchen paper, is well moist, the seed tray should be placed in a bright or semi-shady place, preferably a bright window sill. Direct sun should be avoided, as it would cause the replacement substrate and thus the seeds to dry out very quickly.

Tip: If you want to grow seeds from your own plants, you should grow some cress outdoors and let it flower, which is usually hardly possible on the windowsill. Eventually small pods with the seeds will develop from the flowers.

Cultivation with commercially available germination devices

In addition to household items such as cotton wool or kitchen paper, so-called sprouting devices, which are mainly used for sprouting, are also suitable for growing cress. As a rule, these are made of environmentally friendly materials and offer optimal incidence of light, which has a positive influence on the germination process and the growth conditions of this green herb. You can choose between a cress egg, a cress sieve and sprout towers. Commercially available sprouting jars are less suitable for growing green cabbage.

cress strainer

The cress strainer is a very effective, simple and clean way to grow herb without soil. It usually consists of a stainless steel sieve set in a high-quality glass or ceramic bowl. Depending on the model and manufacturer, the screens can be of different sizes. On this sieve you can grow or germinate both the green cabbage and sprouts.

  • Before sowing, soak the seeds in water for about a quarter of an hour
  • Distribute seed on the sieve according to the diameter of the sieve
  • 1 teaspoon with a sieve diameter of 12 cm
  • 2 teaspoons with a diameter of 16 cm
  • 4 teaspoons with a diameter of 21.5 cm
  • Sow the seeds as evenly as possible on the cress sieve
  • Until roots have formed (2-3 days), water regularly
  • To do this, wet the seed twice a day with water using a spray bottle
  • Cover the bowl for the first two days
  • This prevents the seed from drying out
  • Choose cover according to sieve size
  • Cover with a saucer, cake stand or dinner plate, for example

Once the seeds have germinated and the fine roots push through the sieve, both the roots and seedlings should be rinsed under running water once a day. In most cases, the first fresh cress can be harvested after 5 - 8 days. Once the sieve has been completely harvested, it can be easily cleaned and the next seed can be planted.

cress hedgehog

The cress yolk is a very decorative alternative to the cress sieve. Children in particular really enjoy this. The cress hedgehog is a pure clay vessel in the shape of a hedgehog, which is also available in different sizes. Before you start sowing, fill the container with water and leave it there for about half an hour so that the clay can soak up the water. Any water that is still in the hedgehog is poured off and the seeds are then distributed thinly and evenly over the surface. Again, you have to moisten the seeds daily. The piquant and spicy-hot green cabbage can be harvested after about 5 - 6 days.

Tip: Together with the fresh green, the cress urchin is extremely decorative and looks great on the breakfast table, for example.

rung towers

Sprout towers are particularly popular as a germination aid. They are usually made of plastic and have several levels. These can be shortened or extended as required. The upper level is particularly suitable for growing green cabbage or cress, while the lower levels are intended for tall sprouts such as mung beans.

The principle is similar to that of the cress sieve. The seeds are first soaked and then distributed evenly again in the appropriate level. They should be watered twice a day. To do this, water is filled into the upper level, which is then transported away via the lowest levels and collected in a collecting tray. The water in the drip tray can then be used to water the flowers if necessary.

Problems with cress cultivation

lack of light

Cress seeds need sufficient light to germinate and grow. If it is too dark, the little plants shoot up. In addition, depending on which tools you use for germination, they always grow towards the light, so you should change their position occasionally by turning or aligning them according to the light. In addition, when growing cress, ensure good ventilation.

Mistakes in irrigation

However, what is most important when growing such seeds is proper watering. Too little moisture is just as deadly to seeds as too much. Cress should always be evenly moist but not wet. Watering should only be done with a spray bottle. A jet of water that is too strong could wash away the entire seed or push the tender plants to the ground. You should also not use stagnant water.

mold growth

Mold growth is a common problem caused by dirty germination equipment, unsuitable substrates and, above all, too much moisture. Mold spores are hazardous to health and should be avoided at all costs.

  • If there is any suspicion or obvious mold infestation, dispose of the entire cress cultivation
  • Then clean the germination device thoroughly
  • Needs-based irrigation can usually prevent mold growth
  • Mold may also be the result of contamination
  • Therefore, thoroughly clean the respective planting ground before sowing
  • Ideally, rinse with boiling water

Since the fine fibrous roots of the seedlings can easily be mistaken for an initial mold infestation, an odor test should be carried out before disposal. A musty, unpleasant odor usually indicates an infestation, but if it smells fresh and spicy, the cress is faultless.

Tip: If you pay attention to the coolest possible room temperatures between 18 and 20 degrees, you can both reduce the germ load and ensure that this spicy herb stays fresh for longer.

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