Tag Archive | Watercress

How To Grow Watercress And A Watercress, Leek & Potato Soup

I hope you all had a lovely weekend.

Before I start today, I thought I would show you the hidden treasure I dug up yesterday:

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These potatoes are a second early variety that I grow every year called ‘Marfona’.  As the potato plants were flowering I thought I would have a root around and see what I could find.

They tasted absolutely wonderful.  I made a homemade lasagne to go with the potatoes and served it with a homegrown salad (except for the cucmber as mine aren’t ready yet).

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Afterwards we had freshly picked home grown strawberries served with natural yoghurt…what bliss!

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Today I thought I would talk about Watercress.

I always thought that you needed running water to grow watercress, until my old allotment neighbour showed me how he always grew it in a great big black pot that he had on his plot.

Sadly, my neighbour gave up his plot up in December 2011 and so I decided to take the plot on myself.   I inherited the old black pot and I also tried to grow watercress in it and it worked really well.   All I did was to replace the top inch of compost with new compost, sprinkle the seeds over it and cover them with a small amount of compost.  I just made sure the compost didn’t dry out and this was the result:

My Watercress 2012

My Watercress 2012

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When my watercress began to flower, I left it to set seed and I was surprised to get a second growth of useable watercress a few weeks later.

This year I sowed the seeds in the same way, but as our Spring was cold, I placed a pane of glass over it to help with the seed germination and it has grown well again.  I actually only sowed half the big barrel as this really is enough for us.

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Watercress is fabulous as it has more than fifteen essential vitamins and minerals.  Apparently, it contains more vitamin C (gram for gram) than oranges, more calcium than milk and more iron than spinach.

Another wonderful thing is that it only contains 11 calories per 100g of raw watercress.

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I noticed on Friday that my Watercress is starting to go to seed (even though I have been adding loads of it to our salads), so I needed to use it up fairly soon.  Last year I made a Watercress and Potato soup, but one of my daughters didn’t like it as she said it was too ‘silky’ (whatever that means).  So over the weekend, I made a different soup with less watercress and this time I used leeks from my freezer….I’m pleased to say, she loved it:

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Watercress, Leek and Potato Soup Recipe:

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100g Watercress

450g Leeks

425g Potatoes (weight after peeling)

1 pint of vegetable stock

½ pint of milk

1 tablespoon olive oil

Salt and pepper to season

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Slice the leeks and chop the potatoes into small pieces.

Heat the olive oil in a large pan and then fry the leeks over a low heat until they are soft.

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Add the potato and watercress and ‘sweat’ for approximately five minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure it doesn’t burn at the bottom of the pan.

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Add the vegetable stock and season with salt and pepper to your taste.

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Simmer for approximately 20-25 minutes, until the potato is soft.

Heat the milk until it is starting to boil.

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While the milk is boiling, puree the soup with a hand blender or a liquidiser.

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Add the milk to the pan of soup and bring the soup back to the boil, stirring continuously.

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Serve the soup with a swirl of natural yoghurt.

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Enjoy!

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I hope you enjoyed reading my blog today.

I will be back on Friday at approximately 4pm.

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Bees, Butterflies and Blooms and an Unexpected Bonus

My wildflower patch is still flowering beautifully and I am so proud of it, as it’s my first attempt at growing wildflowers.

I planted my wildflower patch after I was inspired by Sarah Raven’s television program called  ‘Bees, butterflies and Blooms’.

You can read how I grew it from seed here (underneath todays post on August 15th)

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Every time I look at it, I see new flowers.

When I take the time to stand and stare, my breath is taken away by the incredible amount of activity that is going on.  There are so many different types of insects, bees and butterflies, enjoying the flowers.

I sense that this must be how mother nature intended our gardens to be.  It’s such a shame, as with all the chemicals that have been used since wartime, we have been reducing the population of these insects.

I feel very strongly that we must now help these insects to survive.

Early this morning, I felt the distinct feeling that summer is nearly over and autumn is approaching fast.

This always make me feel a little bit sad.

As a gardener, I think you sense the changes in the seasons before others do.

I found something on ‘You Tube’ today that I thought I’d share with you.

If you read my blog regularly, you will know I have an insatiable love of flowers and the beneficial insects they attract.  This video shows some wonderful flowers and insects, whilst reminding us that Summer is nearly over.

It’s called Summers Last Gasp:

The ghost in the garden feels the season march by.
Butterflies and bees poke blooms in the eye.
Shivering leaves change color and die.
Big dipper drips dew from a clear night sky.
Warm sun cools, summer could cry…
Goodbye.

The link to it is here

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I have a large black barrel at my allotment, that Eric (the previous allotment plot holder), used to grow watercress in.

You can see it in the picture below, next to where my wildflowers are now planted.

  Eric always said watercress grew well there, as the tub was big enough to keep the soil damp.

Eric taught me so much about growing vegetables.

In the spring, I stripped the top couple of inches of soil and replaced it with some compost and grew a good crop of watercress.  In the middle of July it had gone to seed, so I pulled it all up and never gave it another thought until this morning, when I found it had self-seeded and given me a second crop. So this really is a bonus I wasn’t expecting.

Thank you for reading my blog today.