NASA astronauts on board the International Space Station on Friday reaped the first harvest of red romaine lettuce leaves grown on the orbiting space lab last month. These vegetables were grown using the “Veggie” plant growth system on the ISS, and were harvested as part of a technique the space agency calls “cut-and-come-again.”
“Cut-and-come-again is a repetitive harvest technique in which a selection of leaves can be harvested for a bit of fresh lettuce and possibly science samples,” NASA explained in a statement. “The remaining leaves and the core of the plant are left intact and will continue to grow and produce more leaves for subsequent harvests approximately every 10 days.”
The goal of this technique is to improve the yield of crops being grown in the micro-gravity environment of space, where plant roots grow every which way, making it excruciatingly difficult for them to absorb the nutrients and water they need to survive.