Greenhab Report – January 10th

GreenHab Report

Mark Gee

10Jan2018

Environmental control:

Heating

Shade cloth on

Working Hour: 06:50PM

Inside temp at working hour: 18 C

Outside temp during working hours: 0 C

Inside temperature high: 26 C

Inside temperature low: 15 C

Inside humidity: 46 %RH

Inside humidity high: 60 %RH

Inside humidity low: 34 %RH

Hours of supplemental light:

For the crops 05:00 to 11:59 PM

Changes to crops: Microgreens almost ready to harvest. Spinach is growing rapidly. Cucumbers continue to produce fruit. Beans near harvest. Tomatoes are flowering but no fruit set. Sprouts are emerging from the seeds planted a few days ago.

Daily water usage for crops: 10 gallons

Time(s) of watering for crops: 06:30PM

Research observations: Microgreens are growing rapidly. No change to tomatoes sprayed with moringa extract.

Changes to research plants: None.

Aquaponics: Not in use.

Narrative: Growing up, we learn to fear bees because of their sting, then to like them because of their honey. But we should treasure them for their work as pollinators. Bees and other insects perform the critical task of transferring pollen from flower to flower. Without this transfer by insect, many crops would not produce fruit because their pollen will not blow in the wind. Some crops, namely the Cucurbitacea family of pumpkins, melons, squash and cucumbers, have co-evolved with their own species of bees that specialize in pollinating these crops. Almond farmers will actually pay beekeepers to bring their bees into the almond orchard while the trees are flowering to help ensure that there will be a bountiful harvest.

Unfortunately, there are no bees on Mars.

To make up for this, I put on my bee suit in the Green Hab today, plucked a male flower from a cucumber plant, and buzzed from cucumber to cucumber, sprinkling pollen in the flower as I went. It took effort and patience.

There are many natural resources that we do not appreciate until they are gone. Surviving on a new planet will be challenging and full of surprising realizations of how much we are missing back on Earth.

Support/supplies needed: I have several questions of general interest.

Is the water supply from Hanksville drawn out of a well, river, or something else?

What are the heater control settings? What temperature is it set to turn on and what temperature for off?

What is to be done with used potting soil?

Is the shade cloth a 60/40 cloth? Is there a better way to describe how much shade it gives?

Greenhab Report – January 9th

GreenHab Report
Mark Gee
09Jan2018

Environmental control:
Heating
Shade cloth on

Working Hour: 06:15PM
Inside temp at working hour: 18 C
Outside temp during working hours: UNK
Inside temperature high: 24 C
Inside temperature low: 16 C
Inside humidity: 40 %RH
Inside humidity high: 48 %RH
Inside humidity low: 28 %RH

Hours of supplemental light:
For the crops 05:00 to 11:59 PM

Changes to crops: Quinoa seeds did not germinate and rotted in the tray. Threw them away. The past days have been very cold and cloudy. Nothing has germinated yet.

Daily water usage for crops: 6.5 gallons

Time(s) of watering for crops: 10:00AM, 06:15PM

Research observations: Microgreens seem to be growing much better in the shady environment. Maybe the full sunlight was scorching them.

Changes to research plants: Applied fertilizer to microgreens.

Aquaponics: Not in use.

Narrative: Watering needs to be as efficient as possible in a Martian habitat. But after I finish watering, I often look around and see a water on the floor.
Some of the water comes directly from accidental spilling becase the spout of the watering can holds water and drips when turned upright. This waste could be eliminated with a differently designed spout or by using something crazy like a giant syringe so that no water is relesed unintentionally.

Most of the leakage comes from water that is poured into the pot and flows quickly through macropores in the soil and out the pot before there is time to soak in. This is a tricky problem to solve. The macropores are a beneficial part of soil structure and should not be removed by compacting the soil. If I water less so that less water flows through the pores, the plants might not get enough water.

We are currently trying to reduce this waste by growing plants on vertical shelving so that the plants below can catch the water leaked by the plants above. But this is not a perfect system. Another option is to install trays beneath every plant so that the leakage can be captured and recycled. It is uncertain how much labor this method would require and how much of the water would evaporate before it could be reused. A third way to reduce this waste would be to use drip irrigation tape that continually releases water into the soil at a slow rate. This would increase water use efficiency and also reduce the labor requirements for the astronauts. However, an adjustable drip tape would have to be invented so the same tape could be used with different crops. And it may not be feasible to rocket yards and yards of drip tape to Mars.

For now, I will stick with my watering can.

Support/supplies needed: None

Greenhab Report – January 8th

GreenHab Report
Mark Gee
08Jan2018

Environmental control:
Heating

Shade cloth on

Working Hour: 05:45PM
Inside temp at working hour: 18 C
Outside temp during working hours: 0 C
Inside temperature high: 25 C
Inside temperature low: No Data
Inside humidity: 35 %RH
Inside humidity high: 61 %RH
Inside humidity low: 23 %RH

Hours of supplemental light:
For the crops 05:00 to 11:59 PM

Changes to crops: Kale plants are developing true leaves. The sky has been very cloudy and the plants used very little moisture today.

Daily water usage for crops: 4 gallons

Time(s) of watering for crops: 09:30AM, 04:00PM

Research observations: For the moringa experiment, the plants sprayed with moringa extract seem to be taller. The microgreens are not growing well. I will fertilize them tomorrow.

Changes to research plants: None.

Aquaponics: Not in use.

Narrative: Today I served as the communications officer for the EVA and did not spend much time in the Green Hab.

Support/supplies needed: None.

GreenHab Report – January 7th

GreenHab Report
Mark Gee
07Jan2018

Environmental control:
Cooling with vent open

Heating

Shade cloth on

Working Hour: 05:45PM
Inside temp at working hour: 18 C
Outside temp during working hours: 2 C
Inside temperature high: 31 C
Inside temperature low: 15 C
Inside humidity: 24 %RH
Inside humidity high: 36 %RH
Inside humidity low: 16 %RH

Hours of supplemental light:
For the crops 05:00 to 11:59 PM

Changes to crops: Radish sprouts are growing quickly. Spinach survived transplanting.

Daily water usage for crops: 8 gallons

Time(s) of watering for crops: 09:30AM, 05:00PM

Research observations: The microgreens seem to have poor emergence relative to the microgreens in the crop section of the Greenhab. This could be attributed to the better environment in the crop section or the surface sterilization treatment the research seeds received.

Changes to research plants: None

Aquaponics: Not in use

Narrative: Not much happened today. The plants are slow and take time to grow. The old Green Hab used to have a “Zen Garden” to help crew members relax, but the current crop production system seems to be serving a similar purpose. Justin, the crew journalist, stopped by to enjoy the plants, warm air, and humidity. There is something about being surrounded by green that is reassuring, and the flowers on the crops are especially beautiful because they hold the promise of treasure not yet tasted.

Support/supplies needed: None.

Greenhab Report – January 6th

GreenHab Report

Mark Gee

06Jan2018

Environmental control:

Heating

Shade cloth on

Working Hour: 05:40 PM
Inside temp at working hour: 20 C
Outside temp during working hours: -3 C
Inside temperature high: 22 C
Inside temperature low: 15 C
Inside humidity: 25 %RH

Inside humidity high: 32 %RH
Inside humidity low: 16 %RH

Hours of supplemental light:

For the crops 05:00 to 11:59 PM

Changes to crops: There have been two cloudy days in a row, so the crops did not require much water. Used all of the remaining tomato cages to support the larger tomato plants. Seeded several crops. Used the old seed to see what will grow. If there is no germination, newer seed packs will be used.

Below is an updated inventory of all of the crops, quantity, growth stage, actions taken, and notes.

Name

Quantity

Growth Stage

Action

Notes

Dill Weed

2ft row, ~40 plants

Seedling, 5 true leaves

Quick growing. Needs thinning.

Rosemary

2ft row, ~20 plants

Seedling, 1 true leaf

Slow growing.

Parsley

2ft row, ~50 plants

Seedling, 1 true leaf

Moderate growth. Needs thinning.

Cilantro

2ft row, ~40 plants

Seedling, 2 true leafs

Moderate growth

Oregano

2ft row, ~100 plants

Seedling, cotyledon

Spaced seedlings.

Slow growth.

Sage

2ft row, ~10 plants

Seedling, 1 true leaf

Moderate growth.

Basil

2ft row, ~40 plants

Seedling, 1 true leaf

Moderate growth. Needs thinning.

Thyme

2ft row, ~30 plants

Seedling, 2 true leafs

Slow growth.

Chives

2ft row, ~20 plants

Seedling, 1 leaf

Slow growth

Lavender

2ft row

Seeds, not emerged

Seeded plants.

Previous planting did not grow.

Spinach, Bloomsdale

3 pots, 16 plants.

Seedling, one true leaf.

Transplanted 06Jan2018

Spinach, Bloomsdale

4ft row

Seeds, not emerged

Planted

06Jan2018

Kale, Blue Curled Scotch

5 pots, ~50 plants

Seedling, one true leaf

Transplanted 06Jan2018

Cabbage, Golden Acre

1 seedling tray, ~20 plants

Seedlings, cotyledons

Need transplanting

Moringa Olifera

14 plots

Seeds, no emergence

These are trees. Should they be grown in the small Greenhab?

Paperwhites

3 pots, seven plants

Various, sprouted to flowering

Smell fragrant

Beans, Pole

27 plants

3ft vines, producing flowers and pods

Harvest at end of rotation.

Cucumber

23 plants, 7 pots

3ft vines, producing flowers and fruit

Melon

8 plants

2ft vines, no flowers

Slow growth.

Peppers

9 pots, 23 plants

8 inches, vegetative

Slow growth

Tomatoes

39 pots, 57 plants

6in-48in tall, some flowering

Transplanted 05Jan2018

Do we need this many tomato plants?

Radish

1 pot, three plants

Vegetative, 1ft tall

Radish sprouts

6 sq ft

Seedling, cotyledons

Planted 04Jan2018

Seedlings should be harvested around 17Jan2018.

Swiss Chard

1 starter container

Seeds, no emergence

Planted 06Jan2018

Scallions

5 starter containers

Seeds, no emergence

Planted 06Jan2018

Onion

8 starter containers

Seeds, no emergence

Planted 06Jan2018

Broccoli

1 starter container

Seeds, no emergence

Planted 06Jan2018

Carrot

6 starter containers,

4 pots

Seeds, no emergence

Planted 06Jan2018

Lettuce, Romaine

1 starter container,

1 ft row

Seeds, no emergence

Planted 06Jan2018

Lettuce, Red Leaf

1 starter container,

1 ft row

Seeds, no emergence

Planted 06Jan2018

Lettuce, Black Seeded Simpson

2 starter containers,

1 ft row

Seeds, no emergence

Planted 06Jan2018

Lettuce, sprouts misc.

2 sq ft

Seeds, no emergence

Planted 06Jan2018

Lettuce, Bibb

1 sq ft

Seeds, no emergence

Planted 06Jan2018

Mustard

1 pot

Seeds, no emergence

Planted 06Jan2018

Quinoa, Red Sprouting

2 sq ft

Seeds, no emergence

Planted 06Jan2018

Zennia

1 pot

Seeds, no emergence

Planted 06Jan2018

Arugula

2 starter containers,

2 ft row

Seeds, no emergence

Planted 04Jan2018

Daily water usage for crops: 5 gallons

Time(s) of watering for crops: 05:30PM

Research observations: Sprayed moringa experiment with moringa extract as directed. Microgreen sprouts are growing well.

Changes to research plants: None.

Aquaponics: Not in use.

Narrative: The larger tomato plants were starting to lean over, so I used all of the cages available to support as many plants as possible. The rest of the tomatoes will need cages soon, as will the vining cucumbers. The cucumber plants have already started climbing the shade cloth and lighting cables in their quest to take over.

To maximize the efficiency of the Green Hab, it is important to select crops that are suited to greenhouse production and to space out plantings of crops to ensure steady yields. For future Green Hab officers, I would recommend against planting things like melons that can require up to 75 sq ft per plant and have a 10 ft long tap root that is not easily accommodated in a pot. The 50+ tomato plants seem to have been planted at the same time, which means that they will start yielding at the same time. Hopefully the crew on rotation can freeze some tomato sauce for future crews to use.

To bring more crop variety to the Green Hab, I planted carrots, onions, broccoli, scallion, three varieties of lettuce, Swiss chard, arugula, quinoa, and mustard. These were the seeds available, but many are also fast growing crops that have high yields in a greenhouse environment. I used the oldest seed packets, and will replant with newer seed if nothing grows. If future officers continue plantings every two weeks, then there should be a bountiful and regular harvest for every crew.

Support/supplies needed: 50 more tomato cages will be needed to support all of the tomatoes and cucumbers currently growing in the greenhouse. All of the cages we have are in use.

Greenhab Report – January 5th

GreenHab Report

Mark Gee

05Jan2018

Environmental control:

Heating

Shade Cloth On

Working Hour: 06:30 PM
Inside temp at working hour: 16 C
Outside temp during working hours: -4 C
Inside temperature high: 29 C
Inside temperature low: 14 C
Inside humidity: 30 %RH

Inside humidity high: 32 %RH
Inside humidity low: 16 %RH

Hours of supplemental light:

For the crops 05:00 to 11:59 PM

Changes to crops: Transplanted tomatos are growing well. Kale sprouts have grown their first leaves. Cucumbers are flowering profusely and baby cucs abound. Watered all crops with MiracleGrow at a concentration of 1tsp/gal as recommended by the supplier. Next fertilization date is 19Jan2018.

Daily water usage for crops: 8 gallons

Time(s) of watering for crops: 06:30 PM

Research observations: Moringa experiment is growing well. Microgreens have radicles and cotyledons that are turning green.

Changes to research plants: I accidentally watered two of the tomato plants with the MiracleGrow, so I moved these plants into normal crop production.

Aquaponics: Not Functional

Narrative: Clouds obscured the sun all day and kept the Green Hab at a moderate temperature. I was on an EVA all day and did not have much time to spend inside. Tomorrow I will be seeding several vegetables for future crews to enjoy.

Support/supplies needed: None

GreenHab Report – January 4th

Mark Gee

04Jan2018

Environmental control:

Cooling with fan, open door and vent

Heating

Shade cloth on crops

Working Hour: 06:00 PM
Inside temp at working hour: 17 C
Outside temp during working hours: -2 C
Inside temperature high: 34 C
Inside temperature low: 13 C
Inside humidity: 30 %RH
Inside humidity high: 31 %RH
Inside humidity low: 16 %RH

Hours of supplemental light:

For the crops 05:00 to 11:59 PM

Changes to crops: Transplanted 20 tomato plants into large, individual pots. They will need cages soon. Cold air from the fan was blowing directly across the beans and causing them to shrivel. We built a baffle out of cardboard to redirect the cold air towards the ceiling, which creates better airflow and protects the plants. I have made space and plan to plant lettuce, carrots, kale, and sprouts.

Daily water usage for crops: 15 gallons

Time(s) of watering for crops: 09:30AM, 05:30 PM

Research observations: Microgreens sprouting in all trials. Moringa experiments still growing.

Changes to research plants: None.

Aquaponics: Not in use.

Narrative: Most of my time with the plants was spent transplanting tomatos becaus I’ve inherited over 50 tomato plants, previously planted four to a pot. It seems like someone got a tad excited when planting, but we have room for now.

My fellow crew members asked for a tour of the Green Hab, so I walked them through what we have growing, what is near harvest, how the environmental controls work, and what research projects are going on. Melanie especially liked the baby cucumbers which smaller than her fingernail. I told them about the challenges with environmental control and how the cold air from the fan was damaging the beans. Max came up with a clever idea for a baffle that directs the cold air upwards which creates better airflow and protects the plants.

The first two days after seeding an experiment I’m always worried that the plants won’t grow because the surface bleach seeped in and killed them, or there was too much water, or not enough water, or the temperature was wrong, or something else. I spend the next 48 hours checking in on my plants way too often and wondering if the lifeless brown spheres will unfold into leaves, roots, and data that can be published. Fortunately, the time of waiting is over. The seeds took their time, but now every single tray of microgreens planted has an abundance of sprouts that are growing with gusto.

Support/supplies needed: None

Greenhab Report – January 3rd

GreenHab Report

Mark Gee

03Jan2018

Environmental control: Heating, Cooling with fan and vent, open door.

Measurement Hour: 06:20 PM

Inside temp at measurement hour: 16 C

Outside temp during measurement hour: -2 C

Inside temperature high: 32 C

Inside temperature low: 14 C

Inside humidity: 21 %RH

Inside humidity high: 30 %RH

Inside humidity low: 16 %RH

Hours of supplemental light:

For the crops 05:00 to 11:59 PM

Changes to crops: Heat stress in several plants due to temperature extremes. Extra water was given to these plants. A small moth was flying in the habitat.

Daily water usage for crops: 7 gallons

Time(s) of watering for crops: 10:30AM, 06:30PM

Research observations: The microgreen seeds have been covered with plastic wrap and well watered to keep the moisture in. They are beginning to germinate and some have opened their cotyledons. No greening is observed. Brown stains, possibly algea, are forming on the capillary mats of the soil-free trials. Temperature extremes were recorded and may have a negative impact on plant growth.

Moringa seeds have not sprouted. The tomatoes watered with moringa extract are growing well.

Changes to research plants: None.

Aquaponics: Not set up.

Narrative: The sun was shining bright and cheerful all day long. You might think this would be a good thing for plants growing in a greenhouse, but you would be wrong. After helping send off the EVA crew in the morning, I walked to the Green Hab and found several cucumber, tomato, and bean plants wilting. The strong sunlight caused the environment to heat to 32C (90F) which is a stressful temperature for potted plants with limited water. I immediately watered the plants that needed moisture and tried to find a way to release some heat. The outside temperature was near freezing, but opening the door did not release enough heat to keep up with the greenhouse effect. I turned on the fan to the maximum setting, but the cold air blew in so quickly that the plants near the fan reacted poorly. At the lowest setting, the air circulation was not enough to cool the far end of the habitat. I spent some hours adjusting the fan, door, and vent while moving the thermometer around the greenhouse to try and find a way to keep the whole habitat at a reasonable temperature. This was even more challenging because only one half of the building is covered by a shade cloth. Covering or uncovering the entire habitat would make thermal control much easier. What seemed to work best for now was setting the fan on low, opening the vent on the far end of the greenhouse, and keeping the door closed. This kept the temperature near 25 C throughout the habitat. Adjustments will be needed as the outside temperatures change. The increased air circulation means the crops will use more water, but thirsty crops are better than no crops.

Support/supplies needed: Shade cloth for the second half of the Green Hab. Do we need to do something for insect control? What is the threshold for action?

GreenHab Report – January 2nd

Crew 186 Green Hab Report 02Jan2018

GreenHab Report

Mark Gee

02Jan2018

Environmental control:

Heating for entire Greenhab

Shade cloth on the crops

Working Hour: 06:00PM
Inside temp at working hour: 16 C
Outside temp during working hours: 0 C
Inside temperature high: 35 C
Inside temperature low: 15 C
Inside humidity: 26 %RH

Inside humidity high: 35 %RH
Inside humidity low: 16 %RH

Hours of supplemental light:

For the crops 07:00-08:00AM, 05:00 – 11:59PM

Changes to crops: Three flats of radish microgreens have been planted.

Daily water usage for crops: 8.5 gallons

Time(s) of watering for crops: 09:00AM, 04:30PM

Moring research observations: The Greenhab Officer from Crew 185 left an experiment comparing the growth of tomato plants with and without a foliar application of moringa extract. Both treatments are growing well.

Changes to research plants:

Space exploration is a great challenge and the next step of the journey is to send a person to Mars. Plants will play a critical role because of their ability to generate oxygen, water, and fresh food. In the near future, generating fresh food will be the most important role for plants because abiotic means of providing oxygen and water are very effective.

Microgreens provide a quick and efficient way to produce fresh food in space because they can be harvested in 10 days and can potentially grow without soil. I am comparing how well microgreens grow in potting soil, pulverized clay, and on a cloth with no growth medium to investigate if soil-free microgreen production is feasible in simulated Mars greenhouse habitat.

As well, plants depend on the microbes present in their environment to help them grow. As far as we know, no bacteria exist on Mars, and future Mars explorations will attempt to remain as sterile as possible to avoid contaminating the planet. The one source of microbes that will be intentionally transported are the microbes stored in the guts of the astronauts.

How well will microgreens grow when removed from the context of their native microbiome? If the microgreens are colonized by microbes from the astronauts, will there be an additional effect on plant growth?

To help answer these questions about the plant microbiome I am growing radish microgreens in a sterilized, soil-free environment and comparing treatments that have been inocculated with greywater from the hab, inocculated with native soil bacteria, and innoculated with sterile water.

In total, 15 flats of radish microgreens have been planted for the experiments above.

Aquaponics: Not Functional

Narrative: Last night I was working late in the Green Hab to prepare the microgreen experiment. At about 9pm the lights shut off unexpectedly which was concerning because there have been so many problems with the generator. Fortunately, it was only the analog timer that had malfunctioned and I was able to quickly reset it to get the lights back on.

This morning, the microgreen experiment was set up with the help of our Commander Max.

The Arduino temperature/humidity logger died yesterday after 28 hours of recording data. This means I only have to swap the batteries once a day. The difference between the logged data and readouts from the gauge used by previous crews was reasonably small.

A rocket ship landed mid-afternoon and deposited several bags of potting soil and perlite outside the habitat. Thank you to the pilot.

Support/supplies needed: None

Greenhab Report – January 1st

GreenHab Report

Mark Gee

01Jan2018

Environmental control: Heating with shade cloth on

Working Hour: 05:50 PM
Inside temp at working hour: 17 C
Outside temp during working hours: 6 C
Inside temperature high: 28 C
Inside temperature low: 15 C
Inside humidity: 42 %RH

Inside humidity high: 48 %RH
Inside humidity low: 25 %RH

Hours of supplemental light:

17:00 to 24:00

Changes to crops: Below is a formatted inventory of all of the crops, quantity, growth stage, actions taken, and notes. The table is also attached incase it is not visible here.

Name

Quantity

Growth Stage

Action

Notes

Dill Weed

2ft row, ~40 plants

Seedling, 3 true leaves

Rosemary

2ft row, ~20 plants

Seedling, 1 true leaf

Parsley

2ft row, ~50 plants

Seedling, cotyledon

Cilantro

2ft row, ~40 plants

Seedling, 1 true leaf

Oregano

2ft row, ~100 plants

Seedling, cotyledon

Sage

2ft row, ~10 plants

Seedling, 1 true leaf

Basil

2ft row, ~40 plants

Seedling, 1 true leaf

Thyme

2ft row, ~30 plants

Seedling, 1 true leaf

Chives

2ft row, ~20 plants

Seedling, 1 leaf

Spinach, Bloomsdale

2 seedling trays, 10 plants

Seedling, cotyledons

Need transplanting

Kale, Blue Curled Scotch

1 seedling tray, 2 pots, ~50 plants

Seedling, cotyledons

Need thinning

Cabbage, Golden Acre

1 seedling tray, ~20 plants

Seedlings, cotyledons

Need thinning

Moringa Olifera

14 plots

No plants

These are trees. Should they be grown in the small Greenhab?

Paperwhites

3 pots, seven plants

Various, sprouted to flowering

Moved flowering plants to the habitat to improve morale

Beans, Pole

27 plants

3ft vines, producing flowers and pods

Harvest in 1 week

Melon

8 plants

2ft vines, no flowers

Peppers

9 pots, 23 plants

8 inches, vegetative

Tomatoes

24 pots, 54 plants

6in-48in tall, some flowering

Need transplanting

Daily water usage for crops: 8 gallons

Time(s) of watering for crops: 05:50

Research observations: None

Changes to research plants: None.

Aquaponics: Not Functional

Narrative:

The crew entered simulation at noon. We will have to adjust to the isolation from society, cramped quarters, and space supplies. I’m hoping to make this transition easier with the produce from the Green Hab. Several of the crops are nearing harvest and I hope to cook a meal with fresh food later in the rotation to boost crew morale. For dinner, I brought some of the blooming paperwhites to the table.

I cleaned the greenhouse and packed the aquaponics equipment to make room for the microgreen experiment and have been sterilizing the soil, growing surfaces, and water.

Support/supplies needed: 3 agar plates to check seed sterilization procedures