Land Cress – Barbarea verna

Land Cress is crisp, spicy and very similar to water cress. It forms large rosettes of leaves up to about 30cm in length that can be gradually harvested throughout the season. It seeds profusely and is a fairly easy plant to grow and pretty much just needs a good fertile soil and lots of water when it’s growing. I’ve also seen it growing successfully in some pretty harsh environments and will still be ok as long as it gets a good soaking of water every so often.

The leaves can be harvested for a long period and  even while it is in flower and forming seed pods it generally stays viable. The seed pods are easy to collect and harvest as the flowers and pods are held up high above the rest of the plant.

It’s a long lived annual and is really worth the small effort required to grow it. It is grown a lot less here in Australia than expected. It’s a plant along with Rocket that should be grown in every home garden patch or window box.

Worth noting is the effect it has on White cabbage butterfly. The butterfly is attracted to plant it’s eggs on this plant over many brassicas – but the plant is toxic to the caterpillar. So it’s probably the best available organic control for this pest when growing brassicas like cabbages, kale or broccoli etc. And you get a good edible crop from it. Just plant a row or patch close to your brassica’s and wonder why you did not think of doing this before. Another good reason to consider multi crop planting. I scatter the seed and let it come up as a random edible weed in amongst other plants and it seems to work even if you only have a few plants.