Sustainability and great contentment ashore – greenhouse, rather than wheelhouse.

I once read somewhere that on the International Space Station there is, or maybe was, a whole clutter of plant pots, tubs and trays with countless things growing. I supposed that most were experiments in cultivation in such conditions, rather than for subsistence or recreation, but at that time it made me wonder why people do not grow more things on long ocean voyages. 

Part of the answer is that, while some have a few plants and so forth in their cabins, there is neither the room nor the time to grow anything on any scale, and there may be major safety and perhaps other issues. Also, with reliable supply and of course refrigeration there is thankfully no need for crew to supplement their diet with homegrown fruit and veg. I imagine, too, that as a hobby this may be regarded as slightly eccentric. Still, though I am not suggesting that vessels should have such facilities, it seems a shame that there is not more scope for what can be a very satisfying and indeed therapeutic activity. 

Ashore, however, I think I have what may be the next best thing, while still very much in the maritime industry, which is putting my progressively greener fingers to work in getting things to germinate, and on from there. We are a ship management company, rather than market gardeners, so I will keep the account short, and hope that, by this brief means, I might almost literally sow the seed of the idea, so that others can take it up, as time and circumstances may allow. 

 “We are a ship management company, rather than market gardeners, so I will keep the account short, and hope that, by this brief means, I might almost literally sow the seed of the idea, so that others can take it up, as time and circumstances may allow.

Summers always seem short up here in Copenhagen, and there can be strong winds, too. These factors make growing things outside a bit more difficult, so my solution is to do all my gardening indoors, and happily view the weather from inside my greenhouse. There is of course no pitching or rolling, but when watching the rivulets run down the panes I can almost pretend that I am looking out from the bridge at sea spray hitting the windows.

There is of course no pitching or rolling, but when watching the rivulets run down the panes I can almost pretend that I am looking out from the bridge at sea spray hitting the windows.

Typically, from around February and March I sow my seeds in small cans, so good and very direct recycling, there. Then by April the small plants can be repotted – with seedlings, this process is called pricking out – and taken into the greenhouse, where daytime temperatures usually reach two digits, Celsius, and on a good day might even go above 20 degrees.

Sustainability, again, means that I capture, in drums, all the rainwater that falls on my greenhouse, later pouring it into thermocol boxes which support my various soil sacks, which I replenish about once a year. Harvests in due course mean the pleasures of flowers brightening up the whole place, and of eating vegetables which are delicious because they are homegrown – that fact alone makes them taste better – and are 100% guaranteed free of pesticides.

And what is more, as well as hours of enjoyable peace of mind, in my own very small way I am helping to combat CO2 and global warming. 

Gardening, growing, cultivation, call it what you will. I rest my case.

Saikat Sengupta – Technical Manager