Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Float Cabin Living: Can you have a garden?

My original garden log.
Float cabins and homes are surrounded by water in marinas, on lakes and rivers, or the ocean. The typical location doesn't include land. That's especially true for our cabin anchored to a steep granite cliff backed by forest. But where there's a will, there's a way.

First I tried a "garden log" with herbs and lettuce tucked into its notches. The sprouts were doing fine until Canada Geese ate them all.

The floating garden John built for me.
I've always liked gardening, so I had to think of a way. Our good friend John came up with the solution, a special float that holds four raised beds. 

A rope pulley takes the float out to the front log boom where it's protected from nibbling critters.

The solar panel for watering.
For watering there's a solar powered boat bilge pump with a hose.  It's so much easier that stooping with a watering can and gentler on the plants.

Rain and watering leaches nutrients from the soil. Each spring I augment it with compost and mushroom manure. Several times throughout the growing season I add plant food. Even out here I get pests, but I don't use insecticide. We don't want poisons in the water we drink.

Bulbs are planted for spring flowers. The daffodils are my favorite. After they die back I grow radishes in their space. I also have a strip along one side for marigolds and alyssum for colour and pest control.

My crops include onions, beets, carrots, kale, broccoli, spinach and a variety of lettuce. I leave my kale, beets, carrots and broccoli in the ground through winter to provide fresh additions for our meals.

My floating garden with four raised beds and a solar panel watering system.

Over the years I've also grown strawberries, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, tomatoes and peas in my beds. Crop rotation is good to reduce pests and provide variety.

In addition to my float garden I have numerous pots and large containers on the cabin's many decks for additional plants, especially large ones that take up too much space. Here you will find tomatoes, pole beans, snow peas, cucumbers, peppers, squash, blueberries, red currant, and more flowers. I also grow my herbs in pots for easy access.

Potatoes growing in plastic tubs and zucchini with a protective cage.

Now that we live in our float cabin all summer long I can keep things well watered. I've learned how to can my excess produce to use during the off season.

Gardening takes a lot of time from May through September, but the rewards make it worth it. We aren't self-sustaining, but each dinner has something that we have grown ourselves. Weekly trips to the grocery store fill out our food needs.

An early spring harvest of lettuce, kale, onions, radishes, and broccoli.

You can read more about my gardening exploits and other aspects of float cabin living in Wayne's book Up the Lake available in print and Kindle formats from Amazon, and many other online booksellers. Here are some quick references to other gardening posts on this blog,.

Gardening Category
Ready, Set, Grow
Simple Pots for Container Gardening
Simple Garden Hoop Tunnel
Protective Plant Cages
Watering with Sunshine 
9 Crops for Winter Gardening
Pressure Canning Carrots

My float garden highlighted in the Powell River Library 2018 Calendar.

Do you have any stories about gardening? Do you have any hints for gardening with unique situations? Let us hear from you. -- Margy


  1. Wow, great early harvest. I didn't plant too much this year, 10 strawberry plants which seem to give me a few strawberries every few days. I have a mouse or a rat I'm competing with so spread older bay leaf in the bed and now they've left it alone which is a natural pestide. I also peppered it, not sure which remedied it. Tomatoes are coming, a little later than other years but we had a cooler Spring this year. I always get a bumper crop so not worried! I planted one cucumber plant and other than the dog running by and eating part of a leaf it is doing ok (he's been "told"), not sure if I will get anything off of it, more of an experiment than anything as I wasn't sure if they would do ok in pots (looks like that is how you grow yours). My friend built a large hoop house but part of it collapsed in the hot weather, she thinks she used the wrong kind of pvc glue as when it heated up it just broke where she had glued it, she's in the process of trying to repair it

    1. Your cucumber should do well in a pot. Mine always do. The only problem I have is late in the season they get powdery mildew. The leaves look terrible the the cucumbers still grow fine. They say that photosynthesis can continue right through all the powdery stuff. My little hoops are all one piece and are nailed in place so they have stayed fine. - Margy

  2. A garden update. Last Friday the Powell River Garden Club came to visit. The men and women enjoyed their tour and gave me lots of great ideas. Thanks everyone for coming. - Margy

  3. This is the cleverest thing I have ever seen! I would never have thought you could have a garden. Pots are great too. I am really impressed!! Thanks for sharing with the Garden Party.

    1. I'm glad I found your link party today. I'll be back again next month. - Margy

  4. Margy, this is the coolest thing! So you actually live on a houseboat or floating cabin? That's so interesting. I have been to British Columbia. It's cold sometimes! I'm going to poke around and read a little more.

    Thanks for joining the garden party and teaching me something new.

    1. Yes, we live in a float cabin on Powell Lake in British Columbia. We discovered it on vacation in 2001 and knew it was the place for us. - Margy

  5. Neat to have your garden in the calendar!!! I love the plush, luxuriant look of your float garden - and the potatoes look wonderful. I have to garden on our deck (mobility issues and the herd of deer that like to roam our neighborhood). I've grown potatoes in a huge pot, radishes in long planters and lettuce around the bottom of my little lilac bushes. Not much produce - but the joy of eating from your own garden is so rejuvinating. The rest of our fresh produce we are lucky enough to get at Joe's Gardens - a wonderful organic farm stand right in the middle of Bellingham - a trip there is like a neighborhood fest - everyone so happy and enjoying getting good fresh produce all summer, and plant starts in the spring.

    1. I had the garden tour at the right time. Since then the potato plants have gotten too tall and are tipping over and wilting in the heat. Sounds like you have a good container garden going. Except for my float garden, the majority of my plants are in pots. Bellingham has lots of choices for fresh produce. Love that town! - Margy

  6. This wonderful post is a GARDEN feature on the August You're the STAR blog hop:

  7. I thought the cabin was cool but this takes the cake! I'm impressed!

    1. Thanks. We saw something similar at another cabin on the lake so I asked our good friend John to make us one. I've always loved gardening, but we don't have any land on shore to use. It's been fun to grow food and flowers. - Margy

    2. How fun and healthy eating too!


We welcome your comments and questions. - Wayne and Margy