Saturday, July 21, 2007

Growing our own freshies

Although at this time of year, five months since we've seen our last plane, most of the food we eat has been frozen at some point in time, we do have a little garden of paradise here.

The production room, a sealed environment where most of the growing is done.

This is our greenhouse, or Food Growth Chamber (no comment on what I prefer to call it). It was designed by my alma mater, University of Arizona, which has an agriculture department that is active in research into hydroponics and controlled environment settings. The greenhouse was constructed in Tucson, then taken apart, flown down here in summer 2003 and reassembled. After a lot of trouble-shooting, which is still going on, it was up and running and is proving to be a very productive little room.

The front room which has been turned in to a nice lounge area.

Everything starts out from seeds and as they grow from seedlings to plants to havestable food, they get transferred into different growing trays.
Seeds are germinated in a spun glass wool medium, then transferred to the growing trays. Photos by Terry Eddington.

A nutrient solution is pumped throughout the trays feeding the root systems underneath. Light is provided by high intensity 1000 watt bulbs that are cooled by individual water jackets. A timer allows the light cycle to be set to simulate a regular day/night cycle. Temperature, humidity and CO2 content are also controlled and monitored.

Several varieties of lettuce grow quite well in the greenhouse.

Lettuce, cherry tomatoes, Asian greens, herbs...all good salad makings.

And the greenhouse, built in the Arizona desert, has proven to be quite an efficient farm for our frozen ice world.

Terry (in the middle) is the greenhouse technician, the principle person in charge of running it this winter. She has the help of volunteers like Jack and Tim who are helping to harvest greens for the Mid-Winter dinner's salad.

Photos by Steffen Richter

Terry has experimented with different veggies and has met success with several varieties like this cabbage that could win a blue ribbon at a county fair.

It doesn't take much to get us excited down here though.

The cabbage posing for me and Sven in the Galley.

As an Arizona Wildcat, I'm proud that my university has helped to put salad and flowers (edible, of course) on our table and a few veggies that crunch in our meals. Now if only we could raise our own salmon...


At 2:40 PM, Blogger skua76 said...


I certainly got excited by all of that lettuce...

At 11:23 AM, Anonymous Kelly K. said...

Hi Heidi, I'm glad you're still posting and things are going well there. I'm also very happy to see that the greenhouse is producing well! Happy belated mid-winter, can't wait to hear about your post-ice travels.

At 9:42 AM, Blogger ethan said...

Wow! Cabbage! Well done! If you can coax that thing to somehow grow green/spring onions (I know it already does chives), _that_ would be one of the freshies I miss most in the winter.

At 11:56 PM, Blogger Gaye said...

Hi Heidi,
I am really impressed with your Food Growth Chamber. We had a little veggie patch in our backyard and it was such an exciting time to see our food grow. Fresh and free of chemicals.
I am glad I came across your blog, will be visiting often. I made a link to your page on mine, I hope that's ok.
Best wishes!


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