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Today is my birthday! And since I have to work a whole bunch today, Chris decided to celebrate my birthday over the weekend. One of the many things we did was go to the Behind the Seeds Tour at Epcot. While we were at Disney over the Easter weekend, we had gone onto a ride called The Land. And in that ride, it talks about conservation and living with the land. But also, as part of that ride, it went through a hydroponics greenhouse, as well as a aquaponics. And lo and behold, I discovered that there was a tour of the hydroponics and aquaponics section of the ride. It was, of course, more money. With our annual pass discounts, the tour was only $13 each person.

The greenhouses show a new way of farming. Instead of using huge tracts of land and lots of soil, they are using innovative ways of using hydroponics. They don’t claim to have invented this new way of growing things, but they sure use it a lot. The invention of hydroponics in this vertical way helps people grow food where land and soil is scarce. When you can grow them in huge columns like this, you can feed a lot of people on less than two square feet. There’s easily forty heads of lettuce in this one column and it was a little over six feet tall.

They feed these plants a nutrient solution that they mix themselves. It gets fed through the top and it trickles down to the bottom, where it is siphoned back up to the top again to be reused.

But what really interested me was that some of these plants pretty much grown in air. Here are some brussel sprouts that are grown on a conveyor belt.

When it goes through this unit below,

it sprays a nutrient solution onto the roots.

The same is done with these bean sprouts

And here’s what the roots look like underneath

Not all of them are grown using just hydroponics. Some of them are grown in sand while others are grown in a coconut/perlite/vermiculite mixture. All of these mediums aren’t nutrient rich, but they are capable of growing plants with just the nutrient solution.

They are also growing a lot of plants on these trellis thingies. They were able to break a world record using this technique. They’ve managed to grow the most cherry tomatoes on one single plant. It came out to be 34,000 tomatoes, weighing in at a total of 1,150 pounds. Unfortunately, when I did this tour, they had removed the tomato plant and was growing a new one. They do have lifespans, it seems.

They also cool the greenhouses by dripping water onto these corrugated pieces of cardboard and then blowing air through them.

They had great big walls of this stuff and I admit that the greenhouse was rather cool compared to the outside, but not as cool as the air-conditioned area. They greenhouses are trying to make everything natural and organic. They use other insects to control pests in the greenhouse. Everything grown in the experimental greenhouses are sent to the various restaurants throughout Disney.

They also gave you a little handout on how to begin hydroponics in your own home with a list of links of suppliers. I’m not sure that I’ll start a hydroponics hobby. I don’t have a yard, so hydroponics would definitely be the way to go for me, but with several fish tanks already in tow, I’m not sure I have the time to take care of this other stuff. When I left for five days, all the fishtanks totally grew out of control! But I’ll probably research the idea anyway!

How about you? Do you grow anything?

Crossposted to Samantha Ling, Dreamwidth and Livejournal


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 3rd, 2010 06:58 pm (UTC)
Happy birthday! And omigosh, I'm not a plant person but Gary definitely is. I have to go buy some gawdawfully expensive shrimp today so we can make his favorite snow pea recipe with our peas. I thought having a garden was supposed to save you money!
May. 4th, 2010 05:09 pm (UTC)
Funny you mention Gary. I bought a sundew plant that they were selling at Disney. I haven't grown carnivorous plants in a long time, so let's see if this one survives my not so green thumb!
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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