Here is a list of tips and tricks I’ve learned since I started growing plants on the boat:
1. Keep the plants in the shade. This is easily the most important part of keeping my plants alive but it took me the longest to figure out. I specifically got plants that grow well in full sunlight, because I thought they would thrive with all of the sunshine they on deck. Makes sense, right? Wrong. It’s WAY too hot for that.
Although my plants were still growing in size, I noticed their leaves were always droopy and would sometimes turn brown. Within 24 hours of moving them under the dodger in the shade they perked up. Within a few days my sunflower began to bloom.
2. Water twice a day. Because it’s so warm in Hawaii watering the plants once a day just wasn’t enough. For the plants that like to have damp soil (ex. Basil), I soak the soil first thing in the morning then give it a quick mist in the afternoon. Even plants that usually don’t require regular watering (ex. Sunflower) I’ve found I need to give them a little water every morning.
3. Plant in a larger container than suggested. I’m not sure if it’s the tropical weather or if I’m just an exceptional gardener (kidding, haha), but my plants tend to grow deeper and a little larger than predicted. I have had to move each plant into a larger than predicted container at least once.
Example: It is suggested to plant basil in soil that is 8-10in deep. My basil is in soil that is ~8in deep and the roots are running out of room. I might move it to an even larger container soon.
4. Touch the plants. This one sounds weird but I swear by it. I like to feel the plants to judge how much water/sunlight they need. Plants that are getting enough water have heavy, pliable leaves. When they need more water the leaves tend to be brittle. If the plant is getting too much sunlight, I’ve noticed their leaves get thin and crunchy. Not enough sunlight and they get soft and almost mushy.
I also think the plants like the affection.
5. When growing sprouts in a mason jar, keep them in refrigerator: it is way too humid below deck on a boat to grow sprouts on the counter. I went through four moldy, smelly, and/or gross batches before realizing my mistake. I just started a new batch that I’m keeping chilled, we will see how it goes!
Bonus tip for sprouts: start small! They expand A LOT more than you would think for such tiny seeds and it is hard to properly rinse them when the container is jammed packed. I also think the jar being too full is another factor in my sprouts going bad.
All in all, I think I’m spending too much time with my plants.