PHD #205: What Is Hydroponics?
What Is Hydroponics?
Summary: Madilyn plays hydroponics Jeopardy with Lunair to help understand how farming in space works.
Date: 19 Sep 2041 AE
Related Logs: The ones where they talk about plant stuff.
Lunair Madilyn 
Storage Closet 8-014 - Deck 8 - Battlestar Cerberus
This small storage closet has been transformed through months of effort into a modest floating garden. An assortment of plants hang in trays, water running through their roots; misters go off periodically, giving the room a damp, clean feel. The lights are ample, but not blinding — and they're faintly warm, too, when the misters don't pipe up. The plants are in various stages of growth and blossom, but only a few currently dare to extend hopeful tendrils. There also exist a few rows of pots for those plants that don't handle hydroponics particularly well, though these are not nearly as numerous by any stretch and seem to be limited to a couple of rows on the left wall. Two whiteboards on the port and starboard walls detail the various projects currently being undertaken, while the rest of the walls are home to cupboards and shelves bearing impromptu plant-growing supplies: notes for cuttings, mist bottles, inventory of seed and cutting stock, and the like.
Post-Holocaust Day: #205

It's another lovely day in the garden of Lun. The Marine is here by herself for now, lovingly misting some mint. The plants are growing happily, green, verdant - some even with little buds of fruit. The air is sweet, damp and fresh, the kind of cool air where drops cling to things. Probably the freshest place on the ship.

Squeeeeeal. Clang. The hatch comes open and a surprise! visitor enters through the portal. It's a tall blonde woman wearing the tan Marine fatigues, major's pins, and a tight blonde bun. Having heard about this place from a few other folks, it's about time Madilyn investigated for herself. Upon entering the room, her nose scrunches up as she inhales, catching a whiff of a number of plants and a number of smells…not all of them good.

Lunair jerks or a second but turns. She smiles. "Hello sir," She seems surprised, but in a good way. "Probably the freshest air on the ship, hint of um, fertilizer and all," She rubs the back of her head, setting the mister down. "How are you?" She seems cautious, a little formal - but polite and respectful.

"Inspecting the small-scale hydroponics bay, in preparation for bigger things," Madilyn replies to the junior marine. Stepping farther into the room, and shutting the hatch (mindful of the temp and humidity), Madilyn starts by inspecting the central pieces of the whole endeavor. Some of the dangling stalks and the trays themselves are given tactile examination, looking into the plastic to check out how they're grown.

"Oh?" Headtilt. Lunair smiles. She seems pleased. "Sounds good. If there's anything I can answer, just let me know sir," Nodnod. It really does seem to make Lunair happy that things are humming along. "We're hoping to find more vegetable stock on Aerilon," She admits. "Fruits and medicine are nice, but not really full meals. Although, all of the morpha is under lock, key and Marine." Likely punishment or light duty.

"The plan isn't just to find more stock. Well, it is, but that's only one part of the whole mission. Plans are being laid, at least are in the planning stages, to procure an entire vessel for large-scale production." Saying nothing more, Madilyn sticks the tips of her fingers into one of the hydroponics trays…and feels that there is apparently no dirt. "That certainly makes sense, name-wise then."

Blink. Lunair smiles again. "Oh?" Her eyes go wide as saucers. "That'd be incredible. Would you be overseeing it as well?" She seems curious and hopeful. Indeed, inside the tray is nothing but roots and water. "Correct. You can grow more plants and - don't have to worry about pounds on pounds of dirt. Probably cleaner too," Rather than using *ahem* traditional fertilizers. "Sort of like a floating garden, but probably not quite as pretty." Infinitely more practical. She seems curious, but watches and glances to the white board and back. "I thought perhaps when we had enough, I might offer some to the others. Or at least prove that the project's turning out well." People want results after all.

"Proof of concept is good. I was curious about the feasibility of growing plants in space, and in discovering what hydroponics really was. The project itself would be a collaboration between several departments, and undertaken primarily by civilians once a ship is located and made space-worthy. I think it would do those individuals good to get back to work." After dipping her fingers into the water, Madilyn gives them a little shake, and wipes the remainder on the legs of her pants. "You add the fertilizer directly to the water there? Everything's water-soluble? How often, if ever, does the water need to be exchanged for fresh?"

Lunair smiles and nods. "Well, I was a bit worried about that myself but …" She shrugs. It worked out. "That's a very good idea," She agrees quietly. "The Hangar is getting packed and people are getting bored," She frowns a little. Bored masses tend to lead to trouble, especially those that remember Picon. "It can be added onto the plants or into the trays, correct. And yes. If not, it can be filtered through the little carbon filter there. Usually, we just replace what's lost into the plants or what evaporates. It tends to take care of itself, especially since it stays damp. Mildew doesn't set in because things are always moving and the plants compete with it. They were here first, so for mildew it's like walking into someone's family home." They get beaten down!

"So what types of crops can be grown this way? Is there any limit to the types? Is it the sort of application that theoretically can be applied to any plant species and be expected to work, either with increased or reduced efficiency?" Uh-oh, cue the engineer in Madilyn. "Clearly, we would need to show that this can be used with more staple crops. Morpha and herbs are all well and good - the mess chow needs all the help it can get - but eventually we will need to show other things can be grown. I believe one civilian is pushing algae, to be processed and used in multiple applications."

"Many, vegetables like tomatoes, squash, sweet peppers, hot chilies, chard, spinach, lettuce, cucumbers, broccoli, beans and snow peas could potentially be grown. We've got some blueberries, oranges of the miniature variety, mint, onions, cherries and strawberries so far. Along with the morpha and whatever Ensign Apostolos choses to grow. I let her have a small area for traditional growth in case some of the crops don't take," Lunair smiles a little. "I thought it was healthier for her and some of those who don't really embrace modern growth techniques." A faint shrug. "Folks seem to enjoy it and it's a good back up," She admits. "I'm hoping to add more herbs, vegetables and medicinal plants myself. Did you know of any that might be useful?" Lunair peers over. Then a big grin at the mention of algae. "You met Miss Rose I take it? She's all about the algae. I'd be glad to see what we could do to help her with that." Lunair loves her project.

"I'm no expert in herbology, hydroponics, or phycology, so I wouldn't presume to recommend any additional crops. If algae can take the place of the traditional carbohydrate in the diet, however, I think that selection should suffice. A smaller selection of crops to be grown in dirt would be a prudent idea, however, even if it would require Raptors bringing up dirt from the surface. I'm sure the pilots would love that," Madilyn says with a sardonic smile. "Yes, I did meet Ms. Ibbhanas. She seems extremely excited by this plan. But at the moment, that's all it is - a plan. It doesn't yet have Colonel Pewter's approval. Several department heads are working together to prove the feasibility before preparing the official report."

Lunair smiles. "Nearly anything can be grown this way - even things like corn - iif you had the space and wished. We had some bags of dirt, so we used that for now. Still…" back up is good and it's healthy for the Saggies and such right? Right. She looks amused. "I'm sure they would. And she's a good person. I know the XO gave me the okay for this, possibly expanding into the rest of the deck," She nods. "But - I look forward to the official report. It feels weird that my little plants grew from a hobby to an honest to Gods /project/," Lunair admits, seeming baffled. "Still… it's made people happy to work in here, even volunteers. And the food will too. And the morpha, but I suspect we all know what happens when they run out of painkillers."

"Once several potential ships are identified on the surface of Aerilon, I'll be in contact with the deck chief and the resident farmers aboard to see what suits their needs and can be made spaceworthy. There are other considerations, of course - such as ship security, as this is looking to be a nearly completely civilian ship. You should expect to give input in both regards, Lieutenant." Madilyn is kindly serious, demanding in a matronly way when she makes that last statement, turning to look in Lunair's direction.

It does amuse Lunair too, that of all things to come from the Marines - plants! She looks over. "Yeah?" She peers and smiles. "I see. Well, depending on how easy or tedious it is I guess it could be light duty or punishment. Or training. Or it could be heavy duty if it's medicinal but I'm kind of loathe to do that in a civilian environment." Those tomatoes are /fierce/. She glances back to Madilyn, considering it more earnestly. "I think it depends on what we choose to grow on each and how close to Cerberus they stay. A civilian ship that trails just behind and a basestar popping in…" She frets a little, looking back over. "I don't know, I will do some research I think."

"There are obvious internal security concerns, of course. Between civilian sedition and the growth of illegal and controlled narcotics, careful planning would have to be done with regards to both the ship selection and the crop allocation. If this goes well, I think the bulk of production will be shifted, with this small bay dedicated solely to controlled substances for use by the fleet." F…CDA for the win! "There's much research to be done. Currently, we're just laying the ground work." With that, Madilyn starts towards the door. "Thank you Lieutenant for answering some of my questions about hydroponics."

Lunair mmns and nods softly. "That sounds wise," She admits. Lunair smiles, appreciating the input. "I am shocked people are running with the idea," She admits. Lunair never thought her garden would make it so far. She seems pleased though. "I'm really happy for it though." It's meaningful work. "And … I've also set up someone to take over if anything happens to me. Though I suspect this is moving into civilian hands, so that's taken care of too." It's a strange feeling that. Lunair smiles again and waves. "Thank you for coming to visit sir. You should try a sprig of mint sometime. It's big enough that picking off one or two doesn't hurt it. I am glad to answer as best as I can." Think nothing of it.

"If you'll excuse me, there is much work remaining to be done with regards to this project," says Madilyn, at the hatch already. With another squeal and clang, it opens and shuts, and she's gone out into the hall to attend other details.

"Of course, sir," Lunair smiles and waves again at Madi. Man. She never expected this.

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