Canal & River Trust’s Boats in Bloom incentive certainly seems to have brought a focus to boat gardening and I am sure there have been more flowers afloat out and about this summer than ever before.
At a recent canal festival I was attending I was, shall I say, strongly quizzed by a friend who is a boat safety examiner, about the potential hazards of having a roof full of herbage.
I do see a lot of boats that have their whole roof covered in plants and wonder how they mange when travelling. I can only assume they either don’t move very much or they do not use their roof as a working space.
Since much of my boating is single handed, I ensure all my plants are either in front of the centre line fixing so there is nothing for the line to snag on, or on the front of the boat, not under my feet at the back where I will trip over them. The height of the plants can also be an issue, keep to low growing varieties so you can still see where you are going as well as get the boat under any bridges you might meet on your journey.
However wonderful it is to grow your own, safety is paramount. For this reason avoid any plants that can cause a danger in themselves such as roses, cacti and agave succulents which all have nasty thorns. The last thing you want to get tangled up with if you need to move quickly.
If you are growing vegetables this summer there is still time to sow a few pots of seeds for later crops: salad leaves, baby leaf spinach, radish, coriander and peas to eat as pea shoots would all be a good investment.
If you do not live aboard start your plants off at home and bring them to the boat to be at their best for your trip. I do this frequently and try to plan that they will be cropping in time for my holiday. One of the easiest solutions is to buy potted herb plants, almost all the most popular herbs are available, plant them all together with a few bedding plants and if you can get one, a chilli plant, and you will have an attractive and instant container for your trip.
If you are very lucky you might even cross paths with the Herb Boat and be able to indulge in some delightful new and interesting varieties as well as supporting one of our floating traders.
In the meantime, keep watering and feeding and just enjoy your summer boating, enhanced by a tasty titbit or some fragrant summer blooms and perhaps a nice glass of something cold.