Growing food aboard is possible. Keeping soil aboard is not practical for a small vessel, but sprouting is a good alternative. Sprouting seeds is a good way to transform dried foods into fresh foods, sprouting reduces anti-nutritional compounds in raw legumes making more of their nutrients available. Microgreens are germinated legumes grown up to 10cm, microgreens contain considerably higher levels of vitamins and carotenoids, about five times greater than their mature plant counterparts.
Sprouting offers a constant, and reliable supply of fresh and healthful food. Dry seeds last a long time, and take up little space. Sprouting is also a good way to cut down on cooking time, thus saving fuel.
On the boat, we sprout lentils, radish and fenugreek. To learn more about growing food aboard a sailboat, we recommend reading Ken Neumeyer's Sailing The Farm, and this Sprouting Guide.
- Soak 1/3 cup of lentils overnight.
- Move into an upside-down jar covered with a mesh to drain water.
- Rinse every morning, enjoy fresh greens daily.
Some vegetables can regrow from cuttings, like leek, cabbage, green onions, chives etc. Although we don't keep them in soil anymore, they'll re-grow if kept in water. You only need enough water to cover the roots.
When you buy a pot of basil, you are not buying one plant, but a tightly sown clump of more than 20 seedlings.
This gives the appearance of an extremely healthy, bushy plant, which looks great on the shelf. But the reality is that these seedlings soon start to compete with each other for space, causing the plants in the clump to succumb to lack nutrients.
To fix this, take the clump of plants and divide the root ball into quarters by gently tearing it apart with your fingers.
We experimented with growing microgreens. As always, lentils perform best over other seeds.