Hello, and welcome to Gardeners Off World! I am writing this from lockdown, and you’re probably reading it from lockdown, too. The good news for UK gardeners is that it’s still OK for most people to do some gardening – and that includes people who grow their food on an allotment.

Tending to an allotment counts as a form of exercise as long as social distancing is maintained, according to Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove.
“I think it is perfectly sensible for people to go to an allotment. It is in the very nature of an allotment that there is a safe distance between people working on individual allotments.” 
As the Government has banned gatherings of more than two people, this must also be observed on allotments.

via itv.com

It looks like it’s going to be a bit longer before anyone is gardening on the Moon, however, as the global pandemic has forced NASA to stop work on its Orion rocket. But it does mean that the NASA supercomputers can join the fight against the coronavirus. The lockdown in Europe also means that eight spacecraft have been put into hibernation mode, including the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter, Mars Express and the Solar Orbiter mission launched last month.

Grow your own space lettuce! Outredgeous seeds are available from Suttons in the UK
(Affiliate link)

In more positive news, Egypt is recruiting its first astronaut candidates, with the ultimate goal of sending an astronaut to the ISS. 

Space gardening provided me with a moment of light relief this week when I used Google Translate on a Dutch article about Dr Wamelink’s research on growing beans on Mars soil. I’m sure the original text is very sensible, but the translation did make me chuckle:

“Space farmer Wieger Wamelink shows that astronaut puddles can be an important nutrient for vegetables that will be grown on the red planet.”
“In previous experiments, the plants on moon bottom always scored worse.”
“Do you taste the puddle? How do those Mars and Moon piss beans taste?”

The tsunami of articles about how astronauts cope with isolation has made me want to throw myself out of an airlock. However, if you are still in the market for such suggestions, you may like: tips on how to avoid pyjama ennui by Antarctic doctor Beth Healy, and some ideas from Scott Kelly, who spent a whole year on the ISS. Christina Koch spent nearly as long in space, and she credits music and podcasts with helping her through. 

If you’d rather have something to take your mind off things, then NASA has an article about how freeze-dried “astronaut ice cream” has become a big seller. Apparently, Astronaut Foods are planning on adding freeze-dried pet treats to their range, with the brand name Astrodog. And speaking of freezing, Gastro Obscura has a piece about what it’s like to bartend in Antarctica.

The Guardian has an article on the best books about our future in space, and the Smithsonian would like some help transcribing Sally Ride’s astronaut training notes