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farm tech, farm food, farm style

Kid Astronauts and Space Plants!

Tyler Baras

Recently I visited the 1st grade class at Preston Hollow Elementary in Dallas, Texas. We first discussed what is required for a plant to grow on Earth, then we explored the ways these requirements could be met in space... using an LED Growth Chamber!

Learn more about growing food on martian soil: Link 1  Link 2

Check out the University of Arizona's Lunar Greenhouse: Link

Get more information on the LED Growth Chamber: Link


Tyler Baras

If you have not seen the Thigmomorphogenesis video above, give it a look-see then check out the blog post below to learn more!

Not only does plant stimulation lead to increased chlorophyll content, increased stem diameter and reduced stem elongation; it also increases leaf density!

Dr. Joyce Latimer, while working in the Department of Horticulture at University of Georgia, wrote a great article for Hort Science Journal summarizing many of the thigmomorphogenic responses seen in wide variety of vegetable transplants, including tomatoes, lettuce, celery, eggplant, peas and soybeans!

Specific chlorophyll content (chlorophyll content per unit dry weight of tissue) increased in shaken tomato, brushed lettuce and celery, and rubbed or shaken eggplant. Specific leaf weight (SLW, leaf dry weight : leaf area), an estimate of leaf density, also increased in tomato, eggplant and soybean, pea, soybean, and in lettuce, celery, and cauliflower in response to various mechanical conditioning treatments. Increased SLW and chlorophyll content may enhance photosynthetic rate. Because early stages of leaf development influence SLW, mechanical conditioning of greenhouse-grown seedlings or transplants may improve their adaptation to field conditions, in part by increasing SLW

Thigmomorphogenic responses increase with increasing wind velocity and are temperature sensitive!

Laboratory experiments show that as wind velocity increases, thigmomorphogenesis increases in an approximate linear fashion. Furthermore, it was found that low temperatures interact with mechanical perturbation to reduce the amount of thigmomorphogenesis, both in the field due to wind and in the laboratory due to rubbing. Other environmental factors do not seem to interact with the wind to modulate thigmomorphogenesis even though these factors affect plant growth.

Thigmomorphogenic responses are greater under low photon flux levels or, in lay-gardener terms, low light. Indoor grows often have low light levels and therefore benefit tremendously from the addition of fans!

Seasonal variation in environmental conditions also can affect plant response to mechanical conditioning. Growth of tomato is reduced more by shaking during the winter than during the summer), and pea was more responsive during winter than during spring or fall. In general, plant response to mechanical conditioning is greater under moderate temperatures and low photon flux levels than under higher levels. Source:

Mechanical stimulation also reduces and may eliminate the need to apply growth retardants, including plant growth hormones!

Mechanical conditioning results in plants that appear very similar to those treated with growth retardants like daminozide or chlormequat. Although chemical growth retardants are readily available for production of greenhouse-grown ornamental bedding plants, none is labeled for use on vegetable species. Source:

Want more thigmo? Check out these articles:

Thigmomorphogenesis: a complex plant response to mechano-stimulation 

Mechanical Conditioning for Control of Growth and Quality of Vegetable Transplants


My partnership with Hydrofarm does not force me to show specific products, I only choose my favorites to feature. Here are some of the products I used to make this video:

Wet Wilts and Water Uptake

Tyler Baras

If you've not yet seen the Wet Wilts video above, give it a looksie! I simplified the role of the Casparian strip in the video, the deeper science is even more exciting!

The information below was sourced from Plant Physiology (Fifth Edition) by Lincoln Taiz and Eduardo Zeiger.

Before the Casparian strip, water enters a plant through three pathways:

  • Symplast and transmembrane pathway: Moving through a network of interconnected cells.
  • Apoplast pathway: Moving through the space between cells.
  • Transmembrane pathway: Moving in and out of cells.

Before entering the core of a plant (endodermis), all water must move to the symplastic pathway. To enter this pathway, water (and solutes) must pass through the plasma membrane of a cell. Water movement across plasma membranes is dependent on aquaporins. Aquaporins are proteins in a cell's membrane that serve as channels for water transport. The permeability of aquaporins is influenced by several factors including temperature, anaerobic conditions, and pH. 'Wet Wilts' as described in the video occur because of anaerobic conditions. The reduced respiration rates in response to anaerobic conditions “can lead to increases in intracellular pH. This increase in cytoplasmic pH alters the conductance of aquaporins in root cells, resulting in roots that are markedly less permeable to water. The fact that aquaporins can be gated in response to pH provides a mechanism by which roots can actively alter their permeability to water in response to their local environment.” Wow science is awesome. To sum it up:

  1. Low oxygen environment leads to reduced respiration in root zone
  2. Reduced respiration leads to increased cytoplasmic pH
  3. Higher cytoplasmic pH leads to reduced permeability in aquaporins
  4. Reduced permeability in aquaporins leads to 'wet wilt'

When will you see wet wilt?

  • High light levels: full sun or powerful grow lights increase transpiration and water uptake demand
  • Poor drainage: leads to low oxygen levels in root zone reducing permeability of aquaporins
  • Low humidity: increases transpiration thus increasing water uptake demand
  • Large plants: large plants often transpire more than small plants, increasing uptake demand

Products used in this video

My partnership with Hydrofarm does not force me to show specific products, I only choose my favorites to feature. Here are the products I used in this video:

Hydroponic Workshops at The GrowHaus

Tyler Baras

CropKing NFT

Do you want to learn how to build a hydroponic garden? Awesome!

I'm teaching that!

Join me for a Hands-on Introduction to Hydroponics workshop on June 6th or July 11th. This class will prepare you to confidently create and maintain your own hobby hydroponic system. Register early to secure an optional hydroponic starter kit for the Build-Along Session. Visit The GrowHaus Workshop Calendar for a complete description and registration.

I'm also teaching a Two-Day Advanced Hydroponic Training workshop July 18th & 19th. This course is a comprehensive introduction to hydroponic farming for all skill levels, combining both classroom and experiential learning. Included in this course:

  • Hands-on training for vegetable production from seeding to sale and distribution
  • Introduction to different types of commercial hydroponic systems
  • Plant Pathology and Integrated Pest Management (IPM) for leafy greens
  • Choosing and Blending Hydroponic Fertilizers (Synthetic and Organic)
  • Environmental Controls for Greenhouses and Indoor Farms
  • Food Safety
  • Packaging and Post-Production
  • Marketing and Distribution
  • Group Farm Design Session

Visit the The GrowHaus Workshop Calendar for more information and registration!

There are a limited number of scholarships available for these workshops. Please contact for more information.