While browsing the web for information about plant hunter Augustine Henry I found a Daily Telegraph story about zinnias in space – space horticulture! Major Tim Peake, the UK’s first astronaut has coaxed a zinnia into bloom in a micro-gravity environment. The seeds were planted by NASA’s Scott Kelly as part of VEG-O1 to see what plants might grow in this environment. Lettuce was planted – harvested and eaten by the crew of the International Space Station earlier this year.
“Plants can indeed enhance long-duration missions in isolated, confined and extreme environments – environments that are artificial and deprived of nature,” Alexandra Whitmire, of the NASA Human Research Programme, said.
“While not all crew members may enjoy taking care of plants, for many, having this option is beneficial. . . . Studies from other isolated and confined environments, such as Antarctic stations, demonstrate the importance of plants in confinement, and how much more salient fresh food becomes psychologically, when there is little stimuli around.”
Hooray for appreciation of the different benefits of green and growing things!