Monday, August 17, 2015

Container Gardening - Chinese Watercress 种植西洋菜

With spider mites "visiting" every summer and a planter-bed in a part-shade location, we did not have much good success in growing leafy vegetables such as kale and Swiss chard. Most importantly, how much we grew could not satisfy our rate of consumption.

Top: Aug 2014; Bottom; Feb 2015, in the City-Picker

Just last fall/autumn, we found this shade-tolerant vegetable that has been flourishing beyond our expectations. August last year, we planted Chinese watercress by rooting some store-bought Chinese watercress in the City-Picker container and it was a success. We have already had at least five harvest from last August batch!

Chinese watercress is considered a "cooling" vegetable (more "cooling" than other vegetables such as Bok Choy, spinach, even broccoli), therefore it is usually cooked (boiled/simmered for long hours ~1hr+) with jujubes/red dates in soups to neutralize its cooling property. For the same "cooling" reason, it is not advisable to have it everyday unless one has a hyper-heaty ("yang") body system.

With this reasoning, it limits the consumption rate at home and fits the generation-consumption equation perfectly. Once every 3 months, I cook the home-grown fresh watercress in soups e.g. Chinese Watercress Soup or in rice congee/porridge. I have also stir-fried the young tender leaves with garlic, whilst the more fibrous stems are boiled and simmered for long hours in soups.

Top: Oct 2014; Bottom: Feb 2015, in the raised planter-bed

Chinese Watercress is easy to grow or root from store-bought watercress. Buy a bunch for about $1 in Chinese or Korean grocery store, give it sufficient water and you have watercress perpetually (almost, at least till summer). As a pervasive plant, we recommend container growing and the City-Picker is perfect.

Good things do not last forever, including the pervasive watercress. At this time (summer June-August), last year's crop is already showing signs of aging - turning yellow and rotting dried roots. Perhaps it has to do with lack of rain in California (and because we depend on drip-irrigation or controlled watering). We might possibly remove the old crop and start the City-Picker again by rooting some good watercress plants in late September, so that the container is started anew with strong plants, then hopefully to welcome another year of fresh watercress.

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