On February 17th, astronaut and part time gardener Peggy Whitson harvested the first crop of Chinese cabbage grown aboard the International Space Station. The Chinese Cabbage plants were being grown as a part of The Veggie Project which is looking to grow vegetables in space.
Care For Some Chinese Cabbage?
The Tokyo Bekana Chinese cabbage was chosen as a test crop after evaluating a range of leafy vegetables based on their nutritional value, taste and growth potential. The crop grew successfully after astronauts aboard the ISS tended to it for just under a month.
Part of the harvest will be eaten by Whitson and the rest of the crew aboard the Space Station (along with some ranch sauce which is also at the station), while the rest will be taken back to NASA’s Kennedy Space Centre. Chinese cabbage is the fifth successful vegetable which has been grown in the Station.
Gardening In Space
Astronauts and NASA are experimenting with growing crops in space for a variety of reasons; to provide astronauts on space missions with fresh food, to understand how plants can adapt to new environments as well as to judge which types of plants can grow in space.
Soon, the space station will be send samples of Arabidopsis, a flowering plant to test whether it can be grown in the Station.
“The more complete our understanding, the more success we will have in future missions as we take plants with us off planet,” said Dr Anna Lisa Paul, an investigator from the University of Florida.