It was proposed to study and develop a system for producing salad vegetables on a space station. To this end a `Salad Machine' was designed to act as a controlled environment growth chamber within which various plants will be grown on a continuous and predictable basis such that crew members will periodically have available the ingredients of a “normal” salad. Within this framework we studied the enclosed environment production of tomatoes.
Forty-five tomator cultivars were screened in a greenhouse and four were selected for further evaluation. The criteria for selection were total plant yield, fruit size, fruit quality and the total weight of the fruit on the main stem as compared to the axillary branches. The four selected cultivars were grown in an environmentally controlled chamber (`Salad Machine') at 6 plants/m (volume rather than area is important here). The data collected included: weekly plant height, total daily yield, water use and nutrient uptake.
The continuous production of tomatoes in a small volume using a selected cultivar will be discussed.