Friday, June 27, 2008

Mars Soil Capable of Sustaining Plant Live...however,


I was walking Biff the Wonder Spaniel, leash in one hand, LA Times in the other. Yes, I'm that nimble. On page A14 (Friday, June 27, 2008) was an article about "flabbergasted" scientists who were analyzing the potential of Martian soil. But what the story didn't delve into was the implications for professional garden coaches. No surprise there!

The Phoenix lander at the Martian pole has just analyzed a sugar-cube sized soil sample and the business implications for my landscape architectural consulting services are somewhat mixed. With a surprisingly alkaline pH ranging between 8 and 9, the variety of ornamental plants that can be grown will be similar to what I'm already used to here in SoCal. Lots of Mediterranean plants fall in that range and that's what I'm all about. The article only discussed edibles, indicating that asparagus and green beans would be fine, but strawberries would be hard pressed to thrive. I can extrapolate from this information that my plant palette potential will be most comfortable.

Phoenix also detected magnesium, sodium, potassium and chloride "all of which are useful in organic processes." However (and this is where my business model starts to fray a wee bit) there are no organic compounds. No carbon-based nothing. After doing a little number crunching and factoring the rising cost of gas, I can't imagine how I'd ship enough compost and manure to remedy this essential missing piece.

One more glitch: I usually charge 50% of my consulting rate as travel time for out-of-town clients. With flight times ranging from 6 to 9 months (not to mention the billable hours sucked up while trying to find parking at the airport), I'm wondering if there will be enough Martians of means to make this worthwhile.

I think I'll do some more market studies before I upload my ad to Craigslist.

6 comments:

Teresa said...

You're a true entrepreneur! Now that you have done your research I understand you will be tied to planet earth for the foreseeable future.

Claude said...

And I was really looking forward to buying some martian bananas...

ilex said...

Ok, here's a organic compound solution. If you pack a ton or two of Eisenia fetida in your ship, they will make poop o' plenty by the time you get there. And they have somewhat fewer needs than, say, cows.

There are also the small matters of atmosphere and gravity. And customers. But creating new markets is SO important!

kate said...

Okay, I'm definitely impressed with walking Biff and reading the LA Times at the same time. If I tried that with Lytton, I'd end up somewhere in a bush probably!

Your analysis of the Phoenix's Martian soil sample was fascinating ... looking forward to reading more market studies.

The Garden Faerie said...

Maybe you could finagle a trip to the moon first, for research!
~ Monica

Ewa said...

oh Billy,
You made our morning laughing loud :)
Imagine me sitting on one sofa with my laptop and LOL. My husband coming asking 'why do you LOL?"
I am reading loud your post, and when I come to lack of organic compounds... we both LOL to tears :)
Thank you :)