Upland cress, botanical name, Barbarea verna, has proved to be a hardy, long lasting and delicious salad green. I planted it quite densely over 1 square meter, it produced flowers and seeds quite quickly as does rocket and coriander, however, unlike these crops that are commercially useless for leaf once in flower, the leaves of upland cress continued to remain as a harvestable rosette. It turns out that it is a perennial, or at least a biennial. I’ll have to wait and see what happens to it over the winter. As it is native to temperate areas of northern America and otherwise known as winter cress, I’m hoping it is frost hardy and will not mind the 4 degree average winter days up here in the mountains. I’m currently separating the plants and giving each a 5cm area to make for easier harvesting.
It has an excellent flavour, very similar to watercress, stores well in a sealed container or zip lock bag and has been very well received by my chef clients. This is definitely a crop that I am devoting more space to and will try it in some of the many semi shaded spots through my garden.
Being a member of the brassica family the seeds may cross with the mustard greens that were also flowering nearby. I’ll update this post when I sow the seeds saved from this years crop and see what comes up.
I kept all of this crops flowers for seed production, but the bright yellow flowers are more compact and attractive than mustard flowers, have a similar mustardy taste and in the future will definitely be part of my salad flower range.