The common garden strawberry is a hybrid fruit growing on a small plant. Because it produces a large amount of tasty fruit in a small garden, it is a favourite of urban gardeners and potentially of spacefarers.
- High in ascorbic acid (vitamin C)
Strawberries prefer well drained sandy loam with a pH between 5.5 and 6.5 They can be cultivated from seed, although it is normally easier to allow vegetative reproduction through the stolons. Note that if the stolons are not cut off, fruit production will be reduced.
While strawberries are not the most effective or efficient crop for space, they are sweet and would not require much work to increase variation in diet. Some ideal traits for the use of strawberries in space is that compared to other plants, strawberry plants are small, they are easy to prepare, and they produce little waste. The plants are thought to provide a psychological benefit as well. Jeff Richards, a plant physiologist working with a company in conjunction with NASA, says that for the aroma of strawberries, "the benefits are just immeasurable". Furthermore, strawberries produce antioxidants that may reduce cellular oxidative stress caused by the background radiation in space.
Purdue University has worked to select a breed of strawberry for space under the direction of professor of horticulture Cary Mitchell. The Seascape variety of strawberry stood out for best meeting the requirements for crops in space.
Strawberries are highly susceptible to a variety of diseases. In particular, the plant should be watered without getting the leaves too wet, or it may develop a fungal infection. For this reason, it is normally planted on a slightly raised bed and watered from the side. Stawberries infected with fungal diseases can be treated with copper compounds such as copper oxychloride.
A number of invariably fatal viral diseases are common on Earth.
- J. Godbold-Simpson - Kos uit die tuin 2009. ISBN 978-1-77077-793-5 pp. 98-99
- Wallheimer, Brian. “Low-Maintenance Strawberry May Be Good Crop to Grow in Space.” Purdue University, May 3, 2010.
- Marconi, Elaine M. “The Strawberry Connection.” NASA, February 18, 2005.