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#1 2020-08-01 14:40:44

From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 19,197

The green grass of Mars

It is a far off future when we will walk on it on a planet that is not Earth "Green Grass" but how long before the first seeds will be brought there to grow.

These are the post that we have talk about Grass;

thunder wrote:

A lot of people seem to think of Mars as a small, distant Earth with a thin atmosphere and no biosphere.  And by thinking like that, solutions are made that won't work well if at all.
When the word "dirt" or "soil" is used, it conjures images of the brown stuff underneath the grass in the back yard.  But there hasn't been rainfall on Mars in a very long time.  Think of how hard the ground gets on Earth when it hasn't rained in a month or so.  Most of the land on Mars is going to be very hard as the wind blows the smaller stuff out and the larger stuff compacts.  ANd that's where there is dirt at all.  Dirt is mainly produced by numerous weathering factors, but the two biggest things needed to create dirt are living things (such as plants) and water.

Phobos wrote:

Can you think of any specific species of "weed" that makes a good and durable food plant?  There's one we call miner's lettuce (i have no idea if that's the actual name or not) its a plant that merely has a grass like stem with a flat green disc stuck on top of it.  It grows like mad up in the mountains where I live and doesn't taste to bad even though its not particularly attractive.  I wonder if mushrooms and its related kin would make good plants considering that they're perfectly happy in the dark. Onions would probably grow well to.

C M Edwards wrote:

NASA has sponsored research along these lines in the past.  It's perfectly practical to subsist on a hydroponically grown vegetarian diet.  The major nutrient lacking in such a "restricted" diet is not proteins or vitamins but table salt, which any Martian colony will need a reliable (and as yet unproven) source of.  So even the earliest explorers can reasonably expect to successfully raise some of their own food.

There will be obstacles, all of which will need to be addressed before the first Martian gardeners ever leave Earth.

The climate will be a major pain when raising vegetables.  A greenhouse will need heat and maybe supplemental light, which takes energy.  Many plants will grow anywhere they get enough light and heat, but others are more picky.  Fruiting plants especially require very precise timing of conditions during their growth cycles.  Some which are light sensitive may not grow at all on Mars. 

Another important point to consider when picking plants to grow on Mars is pollination.

Several plants, including specially bred varieties of plants that normally wouldn't be, are self pollinating.  These include varieties of peas, beans and tomatoes.  Other plants are wind pollinated.  Given a little air circulation, they see to themselves.  These include spinach and all grasses (corn, wheat, rice, etc.).  But unless you're fine with a diet of peas & spinach, eventually you will need active pollinators for your Mars garden.  Some plants -- squash, dates, etc -- have flowers large enough with enough pollen than people can pollinate them by hand efficiently enough to make a large crop.  But for almost everything else, pollination means bugs.

Honeybees can service a lot of species, as can stingless bees.  Those two species are fairly general pollinators, but their preferences do not completely overlap.  Some useful plants are very selective, luring only one type of insect for pollination.  Figs, for example, are prefered only by wasps.

And then there are the numerous fruits which are pollinated by flies.  (Sorry, Cindy.  The Martians may have to skip the cows and still be afflicted with hoards of flies.) 

But bugs aren't too bad.  Many species can also solve other food problems.  Several species of bee produce honey.  And fly larvae can be an excellent source of meat protein for the colonists without the mess and expense of cows or chickens.

It's a very complicated subject, with lots of room for original research by amatuers like us.


Palomar wrote:

i remember hearing something once about the advantages of small goats as a food source, obviously far less energy efficient than veggies, but maybe for special occasions? smile

*I think it'd be great to have small goats in a Marsian settlement; they are such interesting animals.  wink  However, I've begun to wonder if it'll be feasible to have such animals on Mars anytime soon, considering how much even one goat eats per day...even if plants and some grasses are growing in Marsian "hot houses" rather well. 

It would, however, be a "fun fact" to note who was the first settler to get rammed in the butt by a goat!  big_smile 

Yes, it would behoove someone on Mars to jot down little notables like that!

--Cindy … 124#p18124

Palomar wrote:

can't you get milk and cheese from goats?

What about miniture cows?

Pygmy pigs- hello bacon, ham, and pork chops- all in one.

* can get milk and cheese from goats.  But do you realize the vast amount of greens 1 goat (even a pygmy goat) eats in a single day?  They eat A LOT.  Sans expansive terraforming, grass couldn't be grown fast enough to keep up with consumption within an enclosed biodome.

How to feed even smaller breed cows and pigs?  Corn would do the trick, have fun growing it fast enough to keep up with demand (even if genetically engineered, like Starlink).

--Cindy … 279#p20279

clark wrote:

Dairy goats eat about 5 pounds of alfalfa hay a day, which is also supplemented with a mixture of grain (14-16% protein)

But hey, meat and dairy requires a much more advanced food chain base becuase you have to support animals to create it.

Perhaps they can monkey around with the pigs genes and make them produce goats milk though. … 320#p20320

grommet37 wrote:

I posted this on another thread, but it bears on this subject, too:

My personal take on the subject of a future Martian ecosphere would be to utilize those very plants and animals which we find so hard to control on earth: the weed species. By this I mean all the so-called "invasive species", as well as all of the human-introduced "feral" species.
  This would include all the "pests" commonly associated with people and their colonization of any area: cats, rats, dogs, pigeons, flies, fleas, ticks, spiders, ants, beetles, termites. Plants would include dandelion, clover, English Ivy, kudzu, crabgrass, purple loosestrife, thistle. For aquaculture, I recommend algae and carp (and tiger mussels).

  Let's face it, if it's hard to kill, if it'll "grow anywhere", that's the stuff we want on our side. People were originally foragers, and ate lots of companion animals and bugs, too. These people will be explorers. They will be somewhat inured to hardship. They will need a source of protein which is not a major drain on their oxygen resources. Small mammals and birds are called for. As well as insects.

   Not only are such animals as dogs, cats, and pigeons useful animals, in that they can be trained to perform useful work functions, they are easily handled by humans. Insects, too, perform many useful functions in the field and garden (pollinators, soil conditioning, etc.).

  Further, our colonists will need a source of raw nutrients, besides just protein. What do doctors constantly tell us we never get enough of? Why our green leafy vegetables, that's right, the bitter greens, the salad greens, the primitive greens. What better source than LED-grown fresh young dandelions? And after the clover and the crabgrass has kicked the crap out of the Martian soil for us we can thank it, by (hopefully) choking it out with primitive grains like buckwheat and alfalfa. I think we'll have to work our way up to your cattle and apple trees.

  One last note. An eminent entomologist who was also a theologian was asked if his many years of study of the processes of Nature had given him any insight into the character of the Creator. His reply was: "An inordinate fondness for beetles". I suggest we take a couple dozen varieties along to our new home, as well.

  For more on Man and his pests, see Twain's "Letters From the Earth." … 485#p20485 … 844#p20844 … 415#p41415 … 119#p51119 … 846#p68846 … 074#p69074 … 219#p98219 … 67#p112367 … 61#p115861 … 14#p116214 … 35#p118435 … 72#p112372 … 48#p126848 … 12#p127012 … 75#p127175 … 24#p132324 … 38#p133438 … 01#p133601 … 99#p133799 … 95#p138695 … 54#p140454 … 14#p146114 … 74#p151774 … 56#p156056 … 34#p157434

louis wrote:

The gorges can be planted with natural vegetation - trees, shrubs, grass, flowers and so on - and be landscaped with numerous paths, rope walkways, waterfalls, ponds, play areas, sports facilities and so on.  Along the gorges retail and other units can be carved out of the rock. 

These gorges I conceive of as natural leisure and recreational areas while the working day would be spent in surface habs and you would also have home habs where you slept . The home habs would have a combination of small real windows and also large artificial windows - live TV screens showing the external view at that point. … 25#p159625

Oldfart1939 wrote:


I disagree completely with your view on cattle feeding; after all, I only did this on a small scale (between 36 and 100 cows) for 22 years. I learned a lot from my Veterinarian neighbor about feeding and care of cattle. We do not initially need a bull, as tubes of semen are normally kept for years at liquid Nitrogen temperature. Once herd is established there will be ample bull calves born for herd propagation after the initial supply of semen is exhausted. A bull is sexually mature at 18 months, and cow calves are normally bred as late yearlings between 15 and 18 months.

Where did you get your information on feeding cattle? I normally irrigated and grew, cut, cured, and baled 90 tons of hay annually for winter feed of the herd. This was mostly grass hay with some clover and a bit of alfalfa mixed in as grown. It takes roughly 1.5 tons of hay to feed a cow 100 %, except for salt blocks with trace minerals added. This quantity is based on 7-8 months of feeding. Over my career as a part-time hobby rancher, I raised approximately 1,100 calves to market weight or for herd growth and mother cow replacement. Every rancher in the area was dependent on success of the hay crop for maintenance of the herds.

In response to Calliban--Algae can be extremely toxic if animals drink too much water containing significant quantities. They die by bloating. I'm not saying anything negative about the bottom line; it could be dried and processed into feed for all livestock. Cattle, poultry, and swine. … 20#p164020

RobertDyck wrote:
louis wrote:

From their blurb:

"If “science is real magic”, then it’s time to meet the magic powder of science. Solein is a unique single-cell protein born from an equally extraordinary bioprocess of electricity and air. Its fully natural fermentation process is similar to the production of yeast, resulting in the purest and most sustainable protein in the world."

Well sounds like you are on the right lines with yeast...assuming they really have got a successful process there....

I must admit I thought they were chemically putting something together...excuse my ignorance.

Whenever some says "magic" or "magic powder" or "secret proprietary", my immediate response is bullshit! Be very careful of unsubstantiated claims.

Realize all plants use photosynthesis. Basic chemical process is:
6 CO2 + 6 H2O → 6 O2 + C6H12O6

Starch is polymerized by taking one hydrogen atom (H) from one molecule, and one hydroxyl (OH) from the other, and connecting the open bonds together. Sugar is a carbon ring, this links carbon rings together. The "H" and "OH" join together to form water.

Cellulose is also polymerization of sugar. The chemical formula is exactly the same; the only difference is which "H" or "OH" are removed to link sugars together. Human and other animals have enzymes in muscle cells and most cells to break apart starch back into individual sugar molecules. Sugar can then be used as an energy source, as food. But the way cellulose links it's sugars together, that enzyme doesn't work. Furthermore, because of the way sugars are bonded in starch, the starch molecule coils into a tight balls, and can branch. Cellulose is a straight molecule, doesn't branch and stiff. Cellulose is used as structural material for grass and other plants.

Lignin is formed by ripping open the carbon rings. It's also a polymer, but with carbon rings ripped open, the enzymes that animals use for digestion certainly won't work. And Lignin tends to cross-bond, so instead of a single chain, it's a far larger, more complicated structure. Lignin is the basis of wood. Trees are mostly made of cellulose and lignin.

The reason I'm going on about this: notice all starch, cellulose, and lignin are made from sugar. And all sugar is made of CO2 and water. That means the vast majority of all plants comes from air and water. There's a little bit of other substances in plants, but very little. For example, chlorphyll is the primary photodye used by plants to convert sunlight into electric charge that powers photosynthesis. Chlorophyll is a cage molecule made of carbon with 4 nitrogen atoms in the centre holding a single magnesium atom. It has a tail of carbon with methyll groups (CH3). I could go on but the point is it's mostly carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen (CHON), which comes from air. There's only a single magnesium atom per molecule; that magnesium comes from soil.

So when this guy claims they produce protein from air, realize he's talking about growing something. The description claims "fully natural fermentation process is similar to the production of yeast". Un huh. That's really sounding like he's growing algae. Is this Spirulina? … 18#p163718
Not sure where I was going with this in  Dust, The health effects - danger to humans from both Moon and Mars

SpaceNut wrote:

Nice refreshing question as it ties in with global warming for the ocean rising and yet what we are seeing is not dust but fires...
If lowering of the ocean is what it takes then plumb the water to each household for waste removal and stop using fresh drinking water for the purpose.

SpaceNut wrote:

The fresh water is then used to keep the green grass growing, which in turn lessens the dust storms, as we are not flushing it...but that is for earth not so much moon or mars...

but in the end grey water for the green grass lawn would be a good use … 60#p165060

Calliban wrote:

On Earth, the regions with the highest yields of wheat and barely, tend to be located in the northern hemisphere.  There are three reasons:
1. Plenty of natural rainfall;
2. High land cost, leading to relatively intensive agriculture;
3. High insolation during summer months.

The final point may be a problem for Mars, with only half the sunlight intensity of Earth.  Wheat and barely both benefit from long, hot summer days for the grains to reach maturity.  Mars has a thinner atmosphere, with less cloud cover and the seasons are twice as long.  Maybe, that will balance out the lower insolation effects.  With longer seasons, we should hopefully get more than one crop per year.  I think yields are difficult to determine.  We will find out when we get there!

Presumably, barley could be grown under ETFE sheets, that are reinforced and regularly anchored to the ground with basalt fibres.  Water would be heavily recycled, along with all mineral nutrients that don't make it into finished whisky.  The spent mash could be recycled into animal feed.  This could sustain animals during winter.  During early spring and autumn, we could grow grass in fields not yet planted, to allow grazing.

Straw would be an important byproduct of Martian cereal agriculture.  When compressed with glue, it would substitute for wood products.  Alternatively, it could be bio refined into organic compounds.

I will be adding quotes as time allows.

Grass is calming, smells nice when freshly cut and is a source of food as well as an oxygen creator.

There are a large variety of these to chose from.


#2 2020-08-01 15:57:00

From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 19,197

Re: The green grass of Mars

I am reminded of a local business that makes and installs Sod as well as provides other grass services.

Sure in time each plot of the "My Hacienda" will some acreage set aside for the pleasures and uses of a nice lawn for running and jumping on.


#3 2020-08-01 18:54:56

Registered: 2011-12-29
Posts: 3,474

Re: The green grass of Mars

I hadn't thought of this:
Quote CME:

Several plants, including specially bred varieties of plants that normally wouldn't be, are self pollinating.  These include varieties of peas, beans and tomatoes.  Other plants are wind pollinated.  Given a little air circulation, they see to themselves.  These include spinach and all grasses (corn, wheat, rice, etc.).

I think you could look at the difference between Tundra, and the Mammoth Stepp.  The later is more grass, and did support large animals at high latitudes a while back.  Some actually exists still.  Don't know if it retains tolerance to frost/cold.

The Mammoth Steppe may be what you are looking for.

This is where I could be compatible with your desire for a green Mars.  As the Mammoth Steppe grew on top of permafrost, then I may also have my underground seas.

Of course to have a Mammoth Steppe, you would need at least an Ozone layer, and perhaps dust control, and some significant warming up, by methods including greenhouse gasses.  I would think that with snowfalls and melts, you might have hopes for parts of the Northern plains, and Hellas.  It could be a nice world.  But without significant Oxygen, I am guessing you need robots to graze the grass for you.

I like the mind picture though.

The Mammoth Steppe was supposedly much more nutritious than is our Tundra.


Last edited by Void (2020-08-01 19:27:28)

I like people who criticize angels dancing on a pinhead.  I also like it when angels dance on my pinhead.


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