Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Sailing the Farm

     Sailing the Farm may sound like a strange title for a post, but I actually got the inspiration from Duane Cobb, a fellow cruiser who lives aboard his boat in Boot Key Harbor. Duane was kind enough to rent his sewing machine to me when I was building the dinghy chaps in the project room at the City Marina this winter. Duane is a man of few words, but occasionally offers bits of insight into his life. One day while having a chat with Duane he mentioned that one of the most interesting books he's ever had onboard was a book titled " Sailing the Farm: A Survival Guide to Homesteading on the Ocean" by Kenneth Neumeyer. Self reliance and a simple life have always been important to me and the book's title sounded intriguing.The book was published in 1981 and has been out of print for several years. However, it is available through collectors for an exorbitant price. After searching the internet I did find a pdf version for free download on a cruisers forum at

     I have been tending a few "crops" as Joe refers to them since moving aboard last June. We've been enjoying fresh basil and parsley which I use in so many of my recipes. Sailing the Farm offered tips and instructions for raising fruit bearing crops such as Tiny Tim tomatoes, a hybrid dwarf plant to strawberries and the nutritional benefits and ease of propagation of sprouts. It also offered tips for identifying and harvesting seaweed as a food source. My Irish mother used to eat Dulce when she was a child. Dulce was one of the seaweed species mentioned in the book. There were also detailed instructions for building a solar food dehydrator and a fresh water still that converts salt water to fresh drinking water!

 The book inspired me to expand my crop selection by ordering seeds for Tiny Tim Tomatoes. The plants will reach a maximum height of 12-14 inches at maturity and seem ideal for small garden spaces. The tomato seeds geminated within two days and the plants are adapting well in the marine environment. Strawberries were also recommended since they grow well in container pots. I found four strawberry plants at a local hardware store and they seem to be coming along very nicely. We've actually enjoyed a few in our morning cereal!

     So far the farm is successful. In a couple of weeks we'll see how the plants progress when Simple Life is underway to our summer destination in New England.