Hairy bittercress – Free salad

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I did a spot of roof gardening this morning and was very pleased to find this herb growing in a neglected plant pot. It’s thought of as weed by most and yet it’s providing at least two services here; covering lots of surface soil thus acting as a green mulch and also it’s soon to be part of my food!  Hairy bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta) spreads readily by seed and is very successful at monopolising open ground. According to Wikipedia it can be quite a nuisance in lawns but then I’d prefer a useful mixed “weed” lawn to a monoculture of grass any day! It’s very welcome in my plant pots, I’d also say it’s non-invasive in this situation as it’s very easy to pull out completely when you need to.

Hairy bitter cress is part of the brassica/mustard family and is often confused with chickweed. Although it’s habit of growing out like a star from it’s base, it’s flowers and of course the hairs, are quite different from chickweed. Both are annuals. In any case, confusing it with chickweed may be a good way to get to know it. Both are useful and nutritious, full of vitamins and minerals, tasting peppery and great additions to salad.

I’ll let these come on for a few more days in the plant pot before harvesting the strongest plants and rehousing the others.

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