Why are ladybugs so beneficial to a garden?
Is it possible to grow a large healthy plant with little or no soil?
Have you ever seen a 9 pound lemon?
To add a little excitement to our science lesson about plants we decided to take our learning on the road and visit one of the most unique greenhouses we know – The Land Pavilion at Epcot.
The Living With the Land attraction offers a look at agricultural efforts around the world. As we cruise through the attraction, learning about living with the land, the highlight for my guys is always the greenhouse at the end. The Behind the Seeds tour gave us a chance to walk through the greenhouses and learn more about some of the most innovative farming techniques being used today.
Behind the Seeds
Our Behind the Seeds tour was lead by one of the scientists working in the greenhouse. The session began with a discussion of natural pest control techniques used in the greenhouse. We watched a short video showing how easily some pests can destroy plants and how lady bugs can be used to keep the pests under control. Our kids were each given a small jar of ladybugs to carry along during the tour.
When we arrived at the strawberry plants (about half way through the tour) the lady bugs were released and put to work.
The greenhouse was home to many interesting plants –some of our favorites were in the Spice Garden area and included bananas, cocoa, coffee, paprika, and fluted melons.
There were also a few unique plants we don’t think we would find many other places, including:
- 9 pound lemons – yes, we actually got to hold it and it was big and heavy
- Cinderella pumpkins – the inspiration for Cinderella’s carriage
- Miracle fruit – according to our guide if you put it on your tongue everything you eat after it tastes sweet…my kids thought that would be a nice way to enhance the taste of veggies!
The tour also demonstrates many interesting growing techniques, including:
- Vertical growing – plants are grown vertically either in containers that are stacked on top of each other or the plants are trained to grow up and over trellises (the tomato tree is amazing!)
- Hydroponics – a growing system that uses little or no soil. They even offer ideas for creating a hydroponic growing system at home.
- Aquaculture – this greenhouse includes the farming of fish (tilapia and sturgeon), prawns, and eels. Our group had a chance to feed the tilapia…feeding time for so many hungry fish is quite a site to see! Note – There are also some “cute” baby American alligators to see on the tour but they are included just for show, not food.
The Behind the Seeds tour lasts for about an hour and is very informative. It moves along quickly but offers plenty of time for guests to ask questions.
It is a walking tour so be sure to wear comfy shoes. The tour is open to all ages but I personally think it would be most interesting to kids over the age of about 7 years old.
You canregister ahead of time or onsite at the tour desk next to the entrance to Soarin. The tour currently costs $20 for adults and $16 for children, making it one of the most affordable tours in the parks.
If you have a Disney Visa or annual pass be sure to mention that to receive a tour discount.
We had a great time on the tour. I’m not sure if the kids were more excited to learn about the plants or with the idea of actually going behind the scenes of a Walt Disney World attraction! Either way it was well worth our time and was a wonderful extension of our science studies.
And don’t forget — at the end be sure to stop by the Seasons Food Fair in The Land pavilion. Some of the veggies grown in the greenhouse are served there.
Have you been “Behind the Seeds”? If so, what did you learn on the tour?