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Into the Jungle

March 21, 2016

CamsExperimentBy: Cam Jones

Using Food Computers, I have learned to grow different types of food and create climates. A couple of months ago, I started working on a project to test the Food Computer’s capabilities of growing some new and exotic types of plants that we hadn’t experimented with yet. I had grown a lot of basil, leafy greens, and even beets, but I was interested in seeing how the Food Computer would handle more exotic plants. Specifically, I wanted to focus on crops that are significant to the large immigrant populations in and around the city of Boston. I decided on six:

Galangal: a root spice similar to ginger from East and Southeast Asia
Cassava: a staple crop from Africa and the Caribbean
Lotus: a flower holy to Buddhism and Hinduism
Hibiscus: a Caribbean flowering plant
Vanilla: a popular flavoring from South America and Africa
Cardamom: a popular tropical spice.

Through a variety of unforeseen events, I also acquired safflower, yucca, and mahogany seeds, which I have also planted.

At the onset, I was most excited about the lotus, cassava, and vanilla. Lotus is an aquatic plant, so I figured that it would work great in a hydroponic system, and I was excited to see how it would turn out. Cassava, like beets, has edible roots, but it is typically much larger. As for vanilla, I just like the smell and thought it would be cool.

All of the seeds have been planted, and so far, the results have been pretty good. Most of the cardamom, yucca, safflower, and lotus seeds have sprouted in the incubator and will soon be ready to move to a Food Computer to mature. The only failures have been the galangal, which succumbed to mold, and the vanilla, which was frail from the start and after a couple short weeks decided that it simply could not put up with life any longer. The hibiscus is doing alright, and the cassava continues to be an enigma that appears to be doing absolutely nothing. The mahogany has also done nothing, but I planted it more recently, so I am not as surprised. Hopefully, the next few weeks will bring rapid growth that will herald the coming availability of any plant anywhere in the world, regardless of the season.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Dennis G Daniels April 2, 2016 at 10:44 am

Fascinating.

Do you have a webcam to observe your PFC?

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Jeanne Meehan April 7, 2016 at 6:56 pm

Wow. I remember the taste of the beefsteak tomatoes that my Uncle John grew on the back chain link fence of the small summer shore house in Jersey. I don’t know if my memory is playing tricks with my taste buds but I still salivate like one of Pavlov’s dogs just thinking about them. The thought that the seeds might be in a seed bank and that I could have a mini farm in the house to grow them fills me with joy. I am just wondering if you need a bigger farm computer or a dwarf tree variety to get the peaches?

Anyway, the reason for my note is to share a marketing idea to get the technology past the 100th Monkey. Contacting all the HGTV type networks and all the food channel networks and putting food computer mini farms in TV homes and in the kitchens of Rachel Ray and the Anthony Bourdain as well as famous restaurants like Berns Steakhouse in Tampa (where the owner grows his veggies under pyramids) will get this concept mainstream. Think ….hot tubs in the 70’s.

Every multi-zillion dollar mansion could put in a 100K unit and brag about the organic non-GMO salads etc. during the Palm Beach charity season. and which health conscious (food neurotic) LA celebrity ( think Ellen and Portia) wouldn’t find a spot for a unit or two? Come on! Remember when no one had granite counter tops? Critical mass has to happen for me to get my beefsteak tomatoes because I need to be able to order my unit on Amazon and have it delivered in two days with free shipping. I am the queen of Ikea furniture assembly but anything more complex than that is out of the realm of my (and millions of others) possibilities. So PLEASE do what ever you can to help me with my selfish desire for a real beefsteak tomato. My salt shaker is ready to shake. Thank you.

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Fang Liu June 8, 2016 at 12:37 am

It’s great to try all different things even if just to learn some of them don’t work out in the end. Here are some of my thoughts on a couple of them.

Vanilla is a vining orchid and the flowers need to be pollinated by a moth with a long tongue or by a human to set pods.
Cassava is normally grown from cuttings of 1+ inch diameter by 4-6 inch length. It requires lots of light to convert into carbohydrates for storage. It might become too large for the FPC if it reaches its natural height of ~7ft.

I like this trial of trying out things other than small leafy herbs, even though those are easier.

The hibiscus is referring to the roselle plant or the ornamental flower?

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Dennis G Daniels July 9, 2016 at 8:43 am

Updates? How goes your experiments?

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