One of the easiest crops to grow, even if you don’t have a garden at all, is Mustard and Cress. These rapidly growing edible shoots are great in salads, sandwiches and mixed with egg mayonnaise. The best part is you don’t even need to have compost to grow them in, and the crops will be ready to harvest around 5 to 7 days after planting. The speed these crops mature in makes them ideal for a small home-based business (cottage industry), and even a child can grow these to top up their pocket money, with very little outlay required.
Before you go rushing out to buy copious amounts of Mustard and Cress seeds it is wise to ensure you have a market for the resulting crops, as they will need to be sold as soon as they are ready and will not wait around for you to then find a buyer for them. I suggest visiting the Head Chefs, or the buyers for restaurants and small shops in your neighborhood, and asking them if they would be interested in purchasing the Mustard and Cress from you. If you are lucky you may well find one very busy restaurant or shop who will happily buy your entire crops on a regular basis. Find out what they are willing to pay for the product, and keep this in mind when you begin to purchase the trays, seeds, and kitchen roll to begin production.
Cover Tray with Newspaper
The next stage is to go on to the Internet and search for appropriate containers to act as your seed trays. These will need to be as inexpensive as possible because they will be ‘sold’ with the Mustard and Cress still growing in them, and therefore unless your customer is a restaurant or hotel, (and agrees to keep the empty trays for you to collect), you will need to continue buying further containers week by week. The size of the containers will be determined by who your customers are. For small shops you will probably need small, (approx 5″ x 4″) plastic punnets to grow the Mustard and Cress in, (because most families will only need small quantities on an anyone shopping trip). For restaurants or hotels, you will be better off growing full-size seed trays of the crop as they will naturally consume far greater amounts when supplying a large number of meals to their guests. I found that a large number of lightweight seed trays can be purchased at very reasonable prices on eBay, (although if you are in the UK I found B&Q even cheaper as they do 8 lightweight seed trays for £1.78). The punnets I failed to find on eBay, but that could easily change, (plus there must be many other suppliers or plastic molding companies online who sell these containers in bulk).
Buying the Mustard and Cress Seeds
After 24 Hours
Mustard and Cress Seeds are extraordinarily inexpensive to buy, and here in the UK they are only about 99p a packet even from a garden center. You can reduce this cost even further by buying them in bulk amounts, and I discovered that ebay again, was doing some excellent deals on “School Size” quantities of around 50g per packet. I had to buy the Mustard seeds separately to the Cress seeds, so I ended up with 100g of mixed seeds in total, but these only cost me £2.36 (inc postage) for the Cress seeds and £2.46 (inc postage) for the Mustard seeds. This amount of seeds will cover many full-sized seed trays, and a huge amount of smaller punnets.
What else will you need?
After 5 – 7 Days (Harvest Time)
Once you have your seeds trays and your Mustard and Cress seeds, all you need is kitchen roll (or a small amount of multipurpose compost), old newspaper, cling film (if using seed trays), water, and a bright warm windowsill or table out of direct sunlight to place your seeds trays on.
Let’s get started…..
1) Firstly line your seed trays with cling film to avoid the water draining out of the holes in the base of the trays.
2) Cover this with a double thickness layer of kitchen towel (or alternatively half an inch of compost).
3) Gently pour enough water onto the kitchen roll (or compost) to ensure it is thoroughly dampened, but not saturated.
4) Scatter a fairly thick layer of Mustard seeds over the surface.
5) Cover tray with newspaper and place in a warm location for about 24 – 48 hours.6) Remove newspaper from seed tray and add an equal amount of Cress seeds to the surface of the damp kitchen towel. Gently add further water if the towel is showing any signs of drying out.
(It is also possible now to purchase strains of Mustard and Cress that grow at the same rate, so avoiding the need to stagger the sowings).
7) Replace newspaper and check the seeds again within 48 hours to see if they have reached an inch tall yet.
8 ) Once the seedlings are an inch tall remove the newspaper and place the trays in the warm, bright location out of direct sunlight (turning the trays daily if the seedlings show signs of leaning towards the light). Keep moist until seedlings are approximately 2″ tall, and then deliver to your buyers immediately. Total growing time is around 5 – 7 days, although it could be as long as 9 days in the cooler months of the year.
(if you intend to eat the crop yourselves then harvest as required using clean kitchen scissors, and rinse the Mustard and Cress in cold water before consuming).
Why this makes a great home-based business.
There are obvious advantages to growing Mustard and Cress as a business venture for profit.
1) The crop matures in around a week ensuring a fast return on your small investment.
2) You can grow the crops indoors and do not need to have a garden, yet you can still grow considerable quantities depending on your home.
3) The crop is very inexpensive to grow.
4) The crop is very easy to maintain and will not take up much of your time.
5) The resulting crop is in demand and is healthy and organic.
6) Your children can grow Mustard and Cress to earn extra pocket money.
7) You can grow Mustard and Cress 365 days a year.
You might also want to consider growing mustard seeds the same way. Everything I have described for growing cress applies to mustard too, the only difference is that mustard takes up to 14 days to reach maturity so is best grown in separate trays to your cress seeds.
Cress Seeds Day 1
Cress Seeds Day 2
Cress Seeds Day 3
Cress Seeds Day 4
Cress Seeds Day 5