When living on a boat it is often difficult to keep fresh produce on board for a long trip. Some things like cabbage and carrots last a week or two at the most, where greens like spinach or kale wilt in days. On our cruises we often found ourselves going to the store just to stock up on fresh greens even though we could have easily survived off our overstocked stores of rice and canned beans for months without going ashore! We also found that it’s nice to have some lush greenery aboard, especially when all you might see for days is open blue. So, we decided to start up a tiny boat garden and see if it was worth the effort, and… It totally was!
Before going out and buying all the garden veggies you can buy, it’s a good idea to ask yourself the following questions. Which plants do best aboard a boat? Where can I store them safely while underway? And which ones need the least maintenance?
We found that herbs are by the far the best option. They provide fresh flavours and dense nutritional value to otherwise bland boat cuisine (gotta love the rice and beans!). They are easy to maintain and take up less space than other veggies. Besides, who doesn’t love fresh pesto!! Some of my favourite herbs to grow are mint, oregano, basil and cilantro.
Micro greens such as kale, spinach and lettuce take up a bit more room and require a bit more maintenance. If you only plan on eating a leaf a day in a sandwich than it may be a good bet, but we found they don’t produce enough to be worth while. When in doubt, sprout lentils and add some fresh herbs to a beautiful bean salad.
To Tomato or not to Tomato?
We tried growing peppers and tomatoes, but found that as beautiful as they were to look at, they produced very little and took up loads of space. Tomatoes and peppers love the sun and our boat is usually in direct sunlight. Sure, it was exciting when a little grape tomato came along, and the taste of heaven filled the taste buds, but we found even that tasty treat wasn’t worth it. If you plan on living aboard your boat at a dock then by all means fill the boat with whatever plant your heart desires, but when cruising, the smaller the plants the better.
Remember, plants need sun! Ensure there is a dedicated, secure spot outside for your plants while underway. You can also designate a berth or storage area and place them in a crate below when rough weather rolls in.
Fresh greens can really boost morale and add tasty flavours to your next meal. They just need sun and water and let’s be honest, a boat has an abundance of both!… Unless of course you cruise in salt water and then you have to decide whether or not you feel like sharing your greatest resource. Of course, if you have a water maker, then you are laughing!
If you find your plants needing a boost, try adding used coffee grounds into the soil to ward of insects, add extra minerals and retain moisture.
I highly recommend you try boat plants to add a bit of life on the water
- The Escape Artists