During my recent visit to Orlando, I had the opportunity to attend the “Behind the Seeds” Tour to get a close up view of the greenhouses at Epcot. The hour long tour was led by a young college graduate interning in the shrimp propagation lab and worth every penny of the $25 admission fee. Laura was enthusiastic, knowledgeable and fun!
The greenhouse showcases a variety of cutting edge agricultural growing methods including the propagation of beneficial insects, aquaponics, hydroponics and the use of sand as a growing medium — all developed to increase production of crops in smaller space with fewer resources. Lettuce, for example can be grown much faster in an aquaponic environment with nutrient rich water. Currently, 1% of the produce used at the Disney properties come from the crops grown in their greenhouses.
Parasitoid wasp raised to eat invasive insects, squash growing in water on a revolving wheel, greens growing in revolving towers.
The produce highlighted included herbs, greens, huge winter squashes, gourds, cherry tomatoes, pineapples, spices, cucumbers, and flowers. I was interested to see how the trellised the tomatoes, cucumbers and melons resulted in such a high yield. There was a demonstration of several different non soil growing mediums which included some that I already use.
Non organic growing mediums, flowers growing in nutrient rich water, cucumbers grown in a specially shaped container
One highlight were the “hidden Mickey’s” tucked around the greenhouse in surprisingly places – some of which I didn’t notice until I looked at my photos later. The methods demonstrated looked so clean and sterile and different from the down and dirty gardening methods that I employ in my gardens. I was also impressed with the amount of technology necessary to be successful — the right amount of nutrients in the liquid or non soil mediums, the temperature control, the use of motorized “pots” for the plants, carefully trellised tomatoes using string and likely, lots of careful pruning, etc.
Me posing with a huge winter squash grown in the sand, English cucumbers and squashes growing on trellises.
The tour provided a fascinating behind the scenes (seeds) glimpse into some very different growing methods. I admire and appreciate but for now, I’ll stick with my traditional gardening methods. On the other hand, I learned a lot and have been inspired to give the Tower Garden another look when I tire of the physical labor of my community gardens.
After the walking tour, we took the “Living with the Land” ride that toured the greenhouses by water and gave us another perspective of the gardens and fish. A great combination!
See if you can find the four hidden Mickey’s!
A tray full of peas growing in water and hollyhocks growing in sand.
Dave and I posing in the spice garden, a topiary of guess who and a trellis of cherry tomatoes growing in sand.