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It is nearing the end of January. While other gardeners are sharing wondrous drifts of snowdrops and crocuses, zinnias have been on my mind the past couple of weeks.
I was excited by astronaut Scott Kelly’s tweet on January 16, 2016 from the International Space Station announcing “First ever flower grown in space makes its debut!”
Scott Kelly (@StationCDRKelly) January 16, 2016
Zinnias are flowers from my childhood and rarely does a summer go by without a bright stand of them in my garden. Easy to grow, they come in rich colors, are long-lasting as cut flowers and attract butterflies, bees and other pollinators. I like the idea of zinnias in space.
Growing zinnias is an important milestone in NASA’s Veggie project as scientists strive to understand how plants grow in microgravity. (Tomatoes are scheduled on 2017.)
Well, oops, it turns out a sunflower had been grown in June 2012 on the shuttle, so the zinnia was not actually the first flower grown in space after all.
But no wonder Kelly was excited to see this bloom. He had been granted gardening autonomy to oversee the zinnia plants after reporting to the ground support that the plants were drying out too much. He wanted to water them and was given permission to skip the protocol that would have had him wait several more days. [Read more: How Mold on Space Station Flowers is Helping Get Us to Mars.]
Now Kelly has shared another photo of the zinnias and a bit of gardening wisdom: “garden proving through challenge and continuous effort comes growth.”
Scott Kelly (@StationCDRKelly) January 25, 2016