‘The Taste of Summer’
Listen to Today's Edition
Antarctica is currently experiencing its winter period that is marked by subzero temperatures and almost perpetual darkness.
Still, these factors did not stop Russian scientists at the Vostok Station in Antarctica from successfully growing watermelons on the frozen continent, the Washington Post reported.
Agricultural researchers planted the large fruits at a station greenhouse as a part of an experiment to grow plants in Russia’s polar regions.
Because they had no proper soil and sunlight, they grew the watermelons using a combination of soil substitutes, fertilizers and special lighting. They also had to pollinate the plants by hand because there were no bees or other pollinators to do the job.
After planting the watermelon seeds in early April and pollinating them in late May, the first fruits grew by July.
The research team explained that the watermelons’ “taste and aroma are not worse than” domestic ones. The eight fruits that emerged were up to 5.11 inches in diameter and the heaviest one weighed around 2.2 pounds.
“Naturally, all polar explorers were happy to remember the taste of summer,” said Andrey Teplyakov, a geophysicist at the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute, which runs Vostok Station.
Teplyakov and his colleagues have already grown other plants, such as tomatoes and peppers, at the station. They hope to plant other crops in special greenhouses, including berries and cucumbers.
Meanwhile, the farming experiments are also intended to test the potential of agricultural production at future outposts in space.