A big part of our life aboard involves learning to be self-sufficient. We make our own power and water. We carry tools for fixing engines, sewing canvas, grinding grain, and catching fish. We do school at home, work at home, and travel at home. We make things from scratch. But one thing we don’t do well is grow our own food. While we can eat fish (assuming we can catch them), having a garden or raising livestock isn’t really possible. Despite the limited deck space, we’ve tried a few gardening experiments. Sarah has the most interest in growing things and has made several attempts—one year she grew carrots and an aloe in pots on deck, and another year, she gave me a window-sill herb garden for my galley. These efforts have not been entirely successful. The pots on deck don’t appear to appreciate the Florida heat or salt spray. The windowsill herbs end up over- or under-watered. We’ve spent lots of money at garden centers with very little to show for it.
This spring, we decided to give it one more try and bought an Earthbox. It’s reputed to be a fool-proof way to grow a lot of produce in a very small space. It has a special reservoir for watering from the bottom, but it drains well, so it’s supposed to be self-watering. It came as a kit, with calcium carbonate to condition the soil and a year’s supply of fertilizer to feed the plants. It has a reflective plastic cover to keep heat (and salt) out and moisture in. Basically, you set it up and it takes care of itself. Since we like to use fresh herbs, we started with an herb garden, growing, like the song lyrics: parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme. While we couldn’t hope to feed 7 people out of one Earthbox, if the current experiment is successful, we could get additional boxes to grow things like tomatoes, strawberries, peppers, and salad greens to supplement our trips to the grocery store and farmer’s market. Even if the attempt is ultimately unfruitful, we will have helped a kid to pursue a worthwhile hobby and enjoyed the effort. Better to have tried and failed than to never have tried at all.
Recipe: Meatloaf with Fresh Herbs
Prep time: 1 1/2 hours Makes: 2 loaves (1 1/2 lbs.)
1 pound ground turkey (pastured is best)
2 pounds grass-fed ground beef
1 cup bread crumbs
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 cloves fresh garlic, peeled and minced
2 teaspoons fresh chives, minced
2 teaspoons fresh parsley, minced
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
2 teaspoons rosemary leaves, minced
2 teaspoons fresh sage, minced
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons deli mustard with horseradish
2 tablespoons organic ketchup
Combine all ingredients and mix well, using hands to knead until you have a consistent texture. Divide into two loaves and bake at 350° for one hour or until internal temperature reads 160°. Slice and serve with ketchup.