BOATER’S BREAK

Canal Boat - - Contents - with Julie Clark

Use­ful gardening gad­gets; a spec­tac­u­lar sight in the night sky; our acros­tic quiz

For those of us who love both gardening and boat­ing, this can be a try­ing time of the year. It’s cold and muddy un­der­foot and damp over­head; lit­tle is grow­ing and lit­tle is mov­ing.

I have planted up some win­ter con­tain­ers with pan­sies, colour­ful heathers and tiny shrubs with pretty berries. Lurk­ing be­neath their roots are some spring bulbs – dwarf Iris and jon­quils to grow up through the plants in the spring, but, my eyes are re­ally on gardening cat­a­logues and good­ies for Christmas.

As we are all aware, liv­ing on board makes one think care­fully about what is im­por­tant in terms of ‘stuff’, there is sim­ply no space for junk when liv­ing on a boat. I have a house, it is full of junk: I have a boat – it is not! And, when I am stay­ing on my boat, I cher­ish the free­dom, not only to move at will but the free­dom from un­nec­es­sary clut­ter and this goes for gardening ac­ces­sories as well as shoes. Con­tainer gardening needs the min­i­mum of equip­ment, of­ten just a spoon and fork will get you by.

I love the idea of mak­ing use of what I have so when I was given a Pa­per Pot­ter, I could make my own seed pots out of old news­pa­pers or mag­a­zines, though I con­fess to still us­ing loo rolls in­ners for sweet peas and beans. My lovely dad was a real gad­get man, though most ended up in the back of the shed lit­tle used, but one thing he did find was a Bot­tle Top Waterer. A noz­zle screws on to any old bot­tle, mak­ing a wa­ter spray – so sim­ple but bril­liant.

These gad­gets are avail­able at gar­den cen­tres and on­line re­tail­ers and would def­i­nitely go on my Christmas wish list along with 5 litres of 10/40 en­gine oil and some new fil­ters. An­other must-have is an Aqua Brush Boot Cleaner; how many times have you soaked the inside of your shoes try­ing to get mud or dog poo off the soles? Well, this is the gad­get to make this task sim­ple. It has a bot­tle you fill with wa­ter with a scrub­bing brush at­tached and you scrub away, tar­get­ing the wa­ter ex­actly where you want it. Per­fect for keep­ing mud out­side the boat.

Of course, if gad­gets are not your thing, you can’t go far wrong with a plant in a box. It seems you can get al­most ev­ery­thing in kit form now and that goes for plants as well. Win­dowsill herb gar­dens, bon­sai tree kits, flow­ers and veg­eta­bles (in­clud­ing the pep­pers pic­tured) are all avail­able in handy lit­tle boxes with all you need to grow them inside. I love these; pot, com­post seed et al. all in a box – par­tic­u­larly good for boat gardening, no waste and nice and com­pact. All you need is pa­tience and that is what I am ex­er­cis­ing while I wait for the spring to get here again.

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