Friday, June 5, 2020

Sailing the Farm

(With Apologies to Kenneth W. Neumeyer)

I mention his name because in 1981 or so, Neumeyer published a book of that name, "Sailing the Farm" on how to raise sustainable foodstuffs on a small sailboat.  Neumeyer had sailed the world, and the book, by turns pragmatic, apocalyptic, and hippy-tastic, served as a great guide for those who wanted to be on the water but not be separated from fresh foodstuffs.  The book is long out of print, and extant copies cost a mint, but it is available as an online PDF HERE if you're interested.

Fresh food, let's face it, be you aboard a watercraft, in an isolated cabin in winter, or headed to Mars, is an issue.  It's not just the scruvy-avoidance and other health issues.  If you cook and appreciate good meals, a little fresh green can make a huge difference in the results of your galley.  Plus, a little green is just nice to have about.

So we thought we'd let you in on a few of the things we've done of varying success to bring a little fresh greenery (no, not that kind) into our lives, going from the ultra simple to the easy and plentiful.  Ready?

You want to talk easy?  You want to talk "takes up no space"?  Try this.  The next time you get a stalk of celery (carrots and onions work too, as will most brassicas like bok choi) chop off and reserve the bottom two inches or so and place it in a shallow dish of water (if carrots or onions, save the tops where the leaves come out instead).  That's it.  In a few days, you'll be greeted with a surprising little fountain of green leaves suitable for garnishing your salads and soups as well as lending some welcome living stuff to your galley.  Really, it's quite pretty.

This pretty little guy will give you a month of tasty garnishes.
When it gets a bit too rangy looking (but has developed a bit of root), just stick it in a pot and it will continue to grow.  We've had a dockside pot of herbs, mainly rosemary, for six years now, providing no end of sauces and marinades (it's also been the nesting site for 35 ducklings over the years, but I digress.)

Wonderful, edible thyme flowers in a dockside pot.
Now, lets grow some crops shall we?  The best, simplest option we've found is the growing of what are typically called microgreens.  Okay "microgreens" is kind of a trendoid sales job.  All these things are normal crops, picked very young.  You can get some wonderful "microgreen mixes" on the web, a blend of seeds of things like arugula, mustard, basil, dandilion, cilantro, kale, lettuce, chard. . . .some of the mixes may have upwards of thirty different plants, running heavily to the earlier mentioned brassicas.  They require only a shallow pan of soil, and that you give them water and a periodic haircut of the bigger leaves to keep things from getting too mature or crowded.  A teaspoon of the seeds can get you literally weeks of fresh greens.

DeadKitty loves his microgreen garden.
Make the clipped greens into a wonderfully rich salad, or as a bed for other dishes.  They can be added to stir frys and soups, egg dishes, pastas, and all manner of things.  I know of no gonzo food raising you can do that creates so much wonderful food so easily.

So a bed of fresh, slightly bitter greens goes down to make a home. . .

. . .for a wonderful dish of sauteed sea food and fresh veggies.
Last, but not least, let's talk sprouts.  Sprouting stuff is really easy.  First of all, make sure you get a mix made FOR sprouting (garden seeds may have fertilizers and fungicides on them that you don't want to ingest).  Dump them in a jar, put a cloth over the top, and give them a rinse and a drain every day.  In a couple of days you'll be greeted with a wonderful wad of sprouts suitable for salads, stir frys, and omlettes, all of them bursting with vitamin C and a host of other nutrients.  Mung beans are the classic for sprouting, but fenugeek, radish seeds, and garbanzo beans work beautifully.

Asparagus and green pea soup with fresh thyme flowers and fenugreek sprouts.  It doesn't get any fresher than this.  Yeah, we made the bowl too.
Neumeyer died in 2013, at shore at last, surrounded by family.  He inspired generations of farmers, cooks, and iconoclasts.  The book is a monument to him.  Give it, and the veggies a try.

Summer is on us now with a vengeance, and we've been doing a bit of cruising, checking out systems for a longer trip this fall.  Life on the water is just splendid.  Get out there and enjoy it.


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