OK, we get it. If you want to survive on Mars, just grow a bunch of potatoes out of your own, uh, fertiliser, like Matt Damon in The Martian and boil, smash and stew them to your stomach’s content. Except potatoes don’t grow anywhere near as well as on Mars as other vegetables, going by experiments conducted by Villanova University’s Dr Edward Guinan and his “red thumb” students.
Last year, Dr Guinan and Dr Scott Engle started the “Red Thumbs Mars Garden Project”, the objective being to plant vegetables in “Martian simulant soil” — taken from a “volcano on Earth that has very similar chemical properties” — and atmospheric conditions like that of the red planet and watching how they perform.
In a video from the university on the project, Dr Guinan outlines which veggies excelled… and which didn’t:
The vegetables that did well are onions, garlic, kale. Sweet potatoes did well, normal potatoes didn’t. One of the things that worked out really well was hops.
Hops, you say? I know what you’re thinking and yes, Martian booze is a possibility — with dandelions. Speaking with the ABC’s Jonathan Green, Dr Guinan mentioned that not only are dandelions ideal for the environment, but you can make your own hooch from them too:
“You can eat the leaves, you can eat the roots,” Dr Guinan said. “The students didn’t think about it, but you can make wine from the flower.”
I mean, I’m all for spirits from spuds, but I’d take a glass of dando grigio over it any day.