Fragile Oasis

Connecting Space and Earth: Learn. Act. Make a Difference.

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From the Diary of a Space Zucchini: My Aching Roots

March 7
I am making a second set of flowers. They are all male flowers, full of fragrance for my crewmates to enjoy. I see Gardener smile.

March 8
Oh my aching roots! I am sick; my flower buds have wilted into little brown nubbins. My leaves have a fringe of brown that gets wider every day. The edges are curled and brittle almost like dried out leaves yet I have plenty of tea to drink. On Earth my leaves would be drooping but here in weightlessness they stay extended and from a distance they do not look sick. Perhaps my symptoms, thus masked, were not observed by Gardener as soon as they would have been if we were on Earth. Gardener is beside himself and is working hard to find a solution. This is not good; I feel in my roots that I may soon be going to the Great Compost in the ground.

Sunflower looks better than she/he feels, which in either case is not too good.

March 10
Sunflower’s leaves are covered with brown spots. Both he and I are not feeling well. Broccoli seems to be doing OK. My gardener says it is something in the tea. The brown fringe on my leaves is growing. They do not sing anymore.

March 11
Broccoli is not doing well. His leaves are turning yellow. The brown spots on Sunflower are growing. We are dying from some space malady. Gardener is frantically working to save us. I have heard that there is nothing to fear about the Great Compost. My only regret is that I will not be here on the frontier to help in this mission.

March 13
My gardener figured out what was the matter and is working on a solution. It is the sour tea that we feed on. He told me it will take several days before the new tea is ready; these encouraging words are helping Broccoli, Sunflower and me to hold on. In the meantime, we have been repotted into new plastic bags and have a strict only-water diet. I understand when a gardener gets sick, sometimes they have to go on a diet. The compost tea is made mostly from vegetable scraps from their food pouches. He said their food has a lot of sodium in it, up to 1000 milligrams per serving and they eat 10 to 12 servings per day. This salt ends up in the compost tea and then goes on our roots. Sodium salts are very soluble in water and wash out from the soil thus ending up in the ocean. Potassium salts are less soluble and stay in the soil. Creatures that originated from the ocean live with sodium and use it for their essential membrane transport processes. Creatures that originated from the land use potassium and find high levels of sodium toxic. Ocean creatures, when they walk on the land, have to carry their sodium with them their bodies. Interesting how creatures adapt to what is found in their environment and what works well for one is toxic to the other.

Broc was doing OK, now she/he is not.

March 15
I float on the edge of the brown abyss. My leaves have fallen off and I am merely a stalk. I am stripped of my call sign “Rose,” let alone even being a zucchini. Sunflower has lost his leaves and now looks like a tangled piece of green yarn. Broccoli has only yellow leaves. I have one root in the Great Compost. I have heard that you should follow the dark. Call on me tomorrow and you shall find me compost!