Seriously, I can’t think of anything I’d rather not be doing than getting dirt under my fingernails pulling weeds, planting bulbs, and basically doing whatever it is gardeners love to do that requires knee pads and rubber shoes. The weeds in the last two places we lived ashore completely took over the yard each and every summer. Embarrassing, really, but not enough so to overcome each excuse I was able to come up with to avoid pulling them. I really do think this is the biggest reason I love living on a boat: no need to touch dirt with my hands, ever.
However, let me be clear: I LOVE the idea of gardening. I love visiting gardens, lounging in gardens, enjoying fruits and vegetables grown in a small garden, and admiring my friends’ green thumb handiwork. I drool over the lovely landscapes in Sunset magazine. I even had a number of houseplants when we lived ashore and I enjoyed them as long as they didn’t outgrow their pots and just asked for a cup of water every month or two.
Our oldest daughter, Leah, on the other hand, loves dirt just about as much as I dislike it. She adores digging in it, planting things in it, finding worms in it, burying — shudder — her hands and feet in it. She relishes the feeling of cool gritty earth on her skin and under her nails. I suspect she has a bit of a green thumb.
From the time she was two she has begged me to plant things and since she has been the one to do the actual digging I have happily obliged. Last summer, Leah began drawing up plans to plant all sorts of crops on board our boat: tomatoes, basil, strawberries. This time, I had to patiently explain that we just are not able to cover our decks with pots of growing food as it is difficult to, well, sail with dirt flying around and stuff.
So with the arrival of spring recently her requests to grow things began to crop up again: one day she asked me if we could plant some chives. That I agreed to: I felt I could handle a small pot of greens, especially since they go so nicely with hot baked potatoes and butter. After procuring some seeds, we re-purposed a small plastic container (me having gleefully given away all our lovely empty ceramic pots last summer before moving aboard) and I, armed with a large spoon, headed up to the marina parking lot gardens to dig up some dirt. Back on the boat, I described to Leah how to sprinkle the seeds over the dirt and cover them up with a light blanket of soil.
Sadly, nearly a month had gone by and nothing seemed to be happening in this little pot of earth. I chalked it up to yet another of my failed attempts to grow something edible. But then, just the other day I glanced over at the little pot that has been living under our dodger and noticed something green growing in there. Either weeds are sprouting up from our borrowed marina dirt or we may actually have some chives soon.
I am now feeling quite buoyed by our gardening attempt and am ready to embark on yet another food-growing goal: sprouts! I found a delightful old book on sprouting while cleaning out my late mother’s cookbook collection last year and saved it, having heard about sprouts being the perfect thing to grow on a boat. With no dirt required(!) I think fresh crisp greens grown in a jar may be just the crop for us. I’ll keep you posted.