Canal Boat - - Boater’s Break - with Julie Clark

Fe­bru­ary is of­ten one of the bleak­est months for gar­den­ing – and boat­ing if you are hardy enough to be on the move and not frozen in just now. One bit of com­pen­sa­tion may be that while we have cold frosty weather, we might also have clear skies and some win­ter sun­shine which, at least, makes ev­ery­thing a lit­tle more beau­ti­ful.

All through the win­ter I keep prod­ding and pok­ing at my plants, both in my gar­den and on the boat. Pots still need at­ten­tion even if it ap­pears that noth­ing is hap­pen­ing. Keep an eye on wa­ter­ing, be­neath the soil bulbs will be start­ing to stir, and al­ways re­move soggy dead leaves so they don’t rot the ten­der buds of flow­er­ing plants.

Vi­o­lets and prim­roses might be show­ing a bud or two now. Some bulbs will even be show­ing above ground and the wonderful gal­lant snow­drop might even al­ready be in flower, their dainty pure white flow­ers be­ly­ing their strength to push up through frozen ground. An­other early bulb is the tiny bright blue iris retic­u­lata which will soon be bloom­ing.

While gar­dens tend to look af­ter them­selves, con­tain­ers on the boat need a lit­tle more care. Slugs and snails are of­ten to be found lurk­ing un­der pots on the ground, just wait­ing for a warm day to slide out, have a good munch on our plants and then re­turn to hi­ber­na­tion. Pots on the roof of the boat should also be lifted oc­ca­sion­ally to re­move mud and grit that can col­lect un­der­neath. Try to keep the air cir­cu­lat­ing to pro­tect your paint­work oth­er­wise you will be look­ing at re­paint­ing your roof sooner than you would ex­pect, a big price to pay for a few spring flow­ers.

Just be­cause the weather out­side is not con­ducive to gar­den­ing it does not mean that we can’t still plant a few seeds. If you have a lit­tle space and a lit­tle light then grow­ing mi­cro greens is great fun with some colour­ful and tasty re­sults, you don’t even need com­post – kitchen roll will do just as well. Use a shal­low con­tainer, a plas­tic tray would be per­fect, lay sev­eral lay­ers of pa­per in the bot­tom and soak well. Sprin­kle a thick layer of seed and keep wa­tered. It is im­por­tant they do not dry out, a wa­ter sprayer is per­fect.

There is an un­be­liev­able va­ri­ety suit­able, choose from: co­rian­der, red cab­bage, basil, beet, cel­ery cress, mus­tard and dill, Sun­flower seeds and gar­lic chives. It seems most veg­etable seeds are suit­able to eat as mi­cro greens so, if you have any left over form last year, try sprout­ing them. There are even va­ri­eties avail­able for cats, dogs and small pets. So there’s no ex­cuse not to have some­thing fresh to eat even when it is cold and bleak out­side.

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