Growing Greens on the Moon, or in Your Kids’ Classroom

I grew up star-gazing, bundling up in blankets to watch the Leonid meteor shower on a clear November night, trying to name each shooting star in alphabetical order before I was silenced, surrounded by too many streaking stars to keep count.  I always wanted to see my home, planet Earth, from space. Even though, while reading L’engle and Lewis’ time and space trilogies, I longed to live on another planet, a career as a rocket scientist seemed out of reach. I was never really keen on science, numbers, or math.  Or, for that matter, eating freeze-dried food meal after meal.

turnip and moon view of earth

But we’re living in the future!  NASA is going to grow greens on the moon, in the scientific hopes that space-dwellers can get their greens locally.  According to the salt, NPR’s foodie blog, NASA “plans to grow cress, turnips and basil on the moon. And to protect the plants from the harsh cosmic radiation and the moon’s lack of atmosphere, NASA researchers will be sending them off inside a seriously high-tech terrarium.”

The terrarium is approximately the size of a coffee canister, and until it makes its way to the moon in 2015, the agency is testing the growth process. Using your kids.  In addition to NASA’s lab testing process, they hope classrooms across the country will join in the fun, sparking kids’ imaginations as they grow greens in their own containers, and imagine grazing on local salads and gazing back at their home planet.

You may not be able to eat moon turnips any time soon, but you can join the challenge to grow your own on earth!  NASA’s Website lists how to get involved, and if you’re a teacher, some ideas for lesson plans.  And if you’d rather try your green-thumb at growing turnips in a regular container, check out the guide on SFGate – you can harvest the turnip greens as soon as the plants are 4 to 6 inches tall, and the turnips when the roots are 2 – 3 inches in diameter.

If dreaming of space-gardening makes you want to be more adventurous in eating, how about a new recipe?  The Old Farmer’s Almanac features a turnip crème brulee.  If you try it, or decide to join the NASA challenge – you must tell me how it tastes, and send photos of your space garden: @RebeccaSnavely and @TheCityFarm.

(Photo: Turnips –, Earth Viewed from Moon – The Guardian)