Houseboat Houseplants

March 2022 Multimedia Jane Willow Web Exclusive

Living off the grid can be a rewarding experience, especially for those interested in harvesting food in the form of plants and vegetables. But is this possible for those living on houseboats? Well, it seems like this sustainable lifestyle is catching the attention of many as an estimated 250,000 boats were sold in 2016. Having an ample supply of fresh herbs and vegetables is a treat, even while cruising.

That sounds easy, right? Well, not exactly. There will be a few challenges along the way, just as you would find on land. However, with a bit of dedication, trial-and-error, and some careful planning, you can enjoy fresh greens from your own houseboat garden.

Growing a Garden On-Board

If you like to keep your boat permanently docked at your slip, you will need to consider the movement of the boat and the level of the lifelines. If they are sturdy and secure, you should be able to hang several planters to give them enough space to adjust and adapt. This will come handy during high tides and wakes of other passing boats.

Plan the Garden Accordingly

Depending on your location, it is important to find out which plants will thrive in your region. You will need to assess the local climate and consider the needs of your own garden. Are you looking to add grass on top of the boat or in your back deck? With adequate planning and preparation, you can cultivate a full garden within a few months.

Some of the most successful veggies to grow aboard include:

  • Sunflowers
  • Alfalfa sprouts
  • Broccoli
  • Red clover
  • Red beans
  • Radishes
  • Green peas
  • Garbanzo beans

Whichever plants you decide to grow on your houseboat garden, be sure to find non-GMO seeds if possible. It may require a bit of research, but will provide vegetables rich in nutrients. Also, consider the position of the plants and pots, as they will thrive according to the movement of the sun. Be mindful of any obstructions on the boat that may limit direct sunlight towards the plants.

Cruising As You Grow

If you are a cruiser, you will want to organize the garden system with easy-to-remove planters. This will allow you to place the plants below deck and into a secure spot when you are on the move. Keep in mind that soil will quickly loosen and create a mess. You can either place the planters in wooden crates to absorb the movement or grow the plants in an upside-down bucket.

Extra tips for gardening on your houseboat:

  • Start with seeds in soil pods
  • Grow a variety of plants that you will enjoy
  • Choose varieties with short maturity dates and require minimal space
  • Invest in quality contains and soil

Before you get started, consider the amount of space you have onboard. In addition, be sure to add a few bug traps to protect your garden and discourage any potential colonists from invading. 

Well, there you have it! You’re ready to get started!

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