BOATER’S BREAK,

Canal Boat - - This Month - with Julie Clark CB

Gar­den­ing, plan­ets and our cross­word

There is no doubt that liv­ing on a boat is a cool thing to do. When I say I have a nar­row boat the first ques­tion is al­ways ‘do you live on it’? I can see the look of dis­ap­point­ment on faces when I say no, not all the time. When I do rub gun­wales with other boaters I see they have some of the same prob­lems on a boat as liv­ing in a house, only prob­a­bly wet­ter and houses don’t tend to sink.

Gar­den­ing on a boat also faces some of the same chal­lenges that I have to over­come in my gar­den at home, es­pe­cially where there are a lot of res­i­den­tial boaters liv­ing closely to­gether in ur­ban ar­eas.

There are five cats that reg­u­larly visit my gar­den, all be­long­ing to neigh­bours and I spend plenty of time shoo­ing them out to save my herbs from un­wel­come call­ing cards and the nest­ing birds from be­ing eaten. It seems that cats are now caus­ing a few prob­lems of this sort in boat roof gar­dens as well; cat poo in a con­tainer veg­etable gar­den is a po­ten­tial dis­as­ter.

There are a few ways to try to pre­vent un­wel­come mog­gies from vis­it­ing your con­tain­ers with out resorting to prepara­tory an­i­mal de­ter­rent. Wide mesh chicken wire over the com­post will al­low plants to grow through the holes so cats can’t dig, they will also turn their noses up at sliced lemons or prickly twigs.

The most or­ganic method I have found is to grow Coleus Can­i­nus, which has a strong smell cats hate. It is a bit smelly but bet­ter than the al­ter­na­tive.

If you haven’t done so al­ready, it is def­i­nitely time to get those glo­ri­ous bed­ding plants pot­ted up now, es­pe­cially if you want a chance to en­ter the Boats in Bloom event this sum­mer. We should, hope­fully, have just about seen the last of the frosts now, but, while the sun is get­ting stronger there will still be some cool nights and windy days. To get the best out of bed­ding plants in con­tain­ers is sim­ple – feed and water reg­u­larly. An ex­cel­lent re­source is the range of self-wa­ter­ing con­tain­ers, avail­able in gar­den cen­tres, which hold a reser­voir of water in the base to keep the com­post moist at all times.

They have a handy tube to en­able water, prefer­able with a lit­tle sol­u­ble plant feed added, to be poured straight into the base. This is a great fea­ture par­tic­u­larly for Toma­toes and cour­gettes which both dis­like water on their fo­liage and are prone to blight and grey mould.

So hav­ing dealt with cats and plan­ning a wa­ter­ing strat­egy, let’s hope for plenty of sun­shine and look out for some es­pe­cially pretty boats this sum­mer.

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