ROOFTOP GARDENING

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

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.

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