One of the things we really enjoy(ed) on our land-home are the fruits of our orchard and garden. There we have an array of fruit trees (peach, apricot, apple, pear, plum, nectarine, orange, lemon, tangerine, fig, pomegranate, pluot – hybrid of plum/apricot, and pecotum – hybrid of peach/apricot/plum) and the garden usually has tomatoes, basil, peppers, sugar-snap peas, english peas, and a bed of ever-bearing strawberries. We eat from our property most days, if not fresh then what we have canned. We make jam and compote and our peach syrup converts a waffle to a waffle-gasm. Then to the boat…
Imprinting green thumbs on white fiberglass brings unique challenges, but having fresh-picked flavors is worth some extra effort. So I started on a quest to see what we can be grown at sea. As we are traveling between so many climates I expect there will be some trial and error.
We were at first moving the plants in and out of the salon, but they appeared to be getting more damage from the wind, and I was not keen on the bits of dirt that found their way onto the deck. So I converted our bar sink into a little nursery by placing a plastic planter box inside the sink and then setting our pots in that. We get good drainage coupled with a nice green feel in the salon. The compromise is that we are now limited to plants that can grow well in the partial shade of our galley. Here we have planted some peppers and basil as an experiment.
The peppers did very well for the first month, and I love fresh jalapenos. When we left the boat in Rome for a couple weeks in July, we returned to a dead plant but the semi dried peppers were excellent on a variety of dishes. I am not sure what the long term impact of the partial shade would be on the peppers but optimistically will place peppers in the “win” column as long as we are on board to keep them watered and we have them pollinated prior to taking on board.
Basil is another favorite. Ellen and I have multiple plants at home to keep up with our consumption and they are doing fairly well in the shaded light of the bar sink. Basil is an easy plant to keep looking good as you pick off any leaves that start to brown. We pluck it from our garden and add it to Italian buffalo mozzarella and off-the-vine tomatoes. Can you say Caprese-gasm?
So far, all of the plants are being grown from store bought pots and seedlings. We transplant them as they are ready. Eventually we will graduate to seeds so we can grow when we are away from green houses. We have to do our own pollination as we are a little light on bees on Golden Glow: toothpicks at the ready, or maybe we just grow plants that don’t require pollination.
One of the cool on-the-water hydroponic concepts I have been pondering is the “Vertical Garden”. This could be mast mounted or attached to the dingy arch. Here is a rendition done on a project boat: Plastiki. For now I will concentrate on the in-salon horizontal garden that does not require boat modifications, if you know what I mean.
Of course, some custom agent may have us destroy the plants in total, so it is important we don’t get too attached to our little green friends or their houses.