Before hydroponic techniques were introduced on Macquarie, there were many attempts at gardening on the island in order to have a regular supply of fresh vegetables.
Station Log — 13/10/1953
Constructed HOT HOUSE for seedlings at rear of Mess building & small frame structure with glazed roof.
Station Log — 21/10/1953
Jack Field and Self found some suitable soil in vicinity of Garden Cove and filled the seedling boxes and planted seeds of cabbage, spinach, swede, parsnips, rhubarb, kohlrabi, carrots, beet, lettuce, turnip, daisy, pansy, viola. All have been placed in the Glass House.
Station Log — 06/11/1953
First seeds sprouting in the Hot House found to be turnips plants 16 days ago.
Station Log — 06/01/1956
Have completed the largest proportion of the preparation of the garden plot. The old engine room which has been used as a shed for the cow was cleaned of several inches of straw and manure and this was buried in trenches under about 6” of soil to supply both heat from below during further decomposition and also plant food.
Station Log –20/01/1956
Started planting seedlings in garden. Made trench 4 inches deep, put in mixture of lime and blood & bone manure and then a thin layer of earth and the seeds using the ‘cloches’ above all and hoping for good results. Seeds in glass box showing up very well but not satisfied with soil mixture used.
Station Log– 24/03/1956
Planted out some cabbages from seed boxes and also went over the rest of the garden weeding and thinning out. Plants are growing very slowly but are healthy. Good root and leaf growth. Appears that use of cloches going to be successful although up to 6 months will be required for maturity.
Station log — Second part of May, 1956
…Temperatures of ground in garden have been hovering around 40F for a considerable time. Some obtaining leaf growth but root growth has ceased altogether. The effect of the glass is counteracted by the seepage of water through the soil.
Station log — 06/07/1957
Vegetable garden provided more produce for the table today, namely lettuce, radishes, mustard cress and white turnips. The turnips grew to a height of 27”leaves and the largest bulb measured 3 ¼” x 4 ½”, weighing 11 oz, far better than I had expected to see down here.
Station Log — 06/01/1960
Jim McQueen is self–appointed gardener & has begun sowing seeds in the greenhouse. Lettuce sown by the 1959 party are now maturing and have solid hearts. Some plants received a setback when scorched by the heat of the sun! Temp in the glasshouse reach 100F in the past week!
Some years were more successful than others and all were subject to the vagaries of the weather.
I haven’t yet been able to find out exactly when hydroponics began here but its controlled methods mean we are now outside of the influence of the weather. Growing lights replicate the sun and heating maintains the space at 25°C. We supply constant water and food, and hey presto! Food.
As the island has existing vegetation (as compared to Antarctica), hydroponics comes with particularly stringent rules and regulations here to prevent the introduction of alien species to the island, something that wasn’t considered an issue back in the ‘50’s.
Only vegetables and herbs may be grown and then only subject to their being an ‘approved’ species.
Brassicas including broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage and cauliflower are banned, as are mushrooms, chives, cress, dill, lemon grass, all mints, oregano and parsley, just to name a few. The brassicas is a big one as there are is a native cabbage species here and therefore a bigger risk of cross-pollination.
Station Log — 15/01/2004
The Macca (inter-station hydroponics competition) tomato entry was submitted weighing in at 436gms, it’s a ripper that will be hard to beat.
Station Log — 09/10/2004
A bit of an incident in hydro when we discovered watercress, a prohibited plant, has been growing. Noel and Beechy disposed of the offending material and any seeds that were not on the ‘allowed’ list.
Might need to bring the inter-station hydro competition back as that 768g cucumber would surely be a winner…