My husband and I recently spent a couple days at Epcot. The first day we spent exploring the World Showcase and re-living some of our travels overseas. The second day we spent in The Land and after enjoying the attraction “Living with the Land” we decided to go on the one hour walking tour – “Behind The Seeds” - through the 4 greenhouses and fish farm that make up The Land Pavilion. It was definitely the highlight of my two days at Epcot as we got to see lots of herbs, spices and tea plants up close and personal plus discover the latest growing techniques including hydroponics!
The tour began in an experimental area reproducing beneficial pests – parasitic wasps. We watched a short video and then some of us were given vials of lady bugs to release later in the greenhouse – I was thrilled!!
Our tour guide, Becky, was an Epcot Greenhouse Intern who had been there just since the first of the year. She was an excellent source of all kinds of information, but also cautioned us that we were not permitted to touch any of the plants except one – sensitive mimosa!
The variety of hydroponic growing containers was amazing and of course the herbs and edible flowers were one of my favorites:
Pansies (Viola wittrockiana)
Basil (Ocimum basilicum)
Chives (Allium schoenoprasum)
We were even given a hand-out about how to create our own Hydroponic Gro-Tank using a fish tank which included information on hydroponic nutrients.
Lots of ideas for home gardens of the future and the vegetables grown in the greenhouses are used in the restaurant in The Land Pavilion.
Cherry Tomato “Tree”
They also have numerous fish tanks & tubes producing eel, shrimp, catfish, tilapia, etc. and even baby alligators.
My favorite area was the last stop on the tour, where we had fun identifying some spices and were surrounded by spice and tea plants. It was great to actually see live plants of some of the plants I had only seen in pictures.
The Spice Garden included . . .
Horseradish (Armoracia rusticana)
Paprika (Capiscum annuum)
Lemon Grass (Cymbopogon citratus)
Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glaba)
Black Pepper (Piper nigrum) “Mickey”
Ginger (Zingiber officinale)
Allspice (Pimenta diocia)
. . . and the surrounding area was lined with additional spice plants including one I had never heard about before:
Tamarind (Tamarindus indica) - produces edible, pod-like fruit (look like peanut shells) which are used extensively in cuisines around the world. The fruit is initially sour and when ripened is sweet. It is found in Worcestershire sauce.
Cinnamon (Cinnamomum spp)
Vanilla (Vanilla planifolia)
Cacao (Theobroma cacao)
The Tea Garden included . . .
Tea (Camellia sinesis)
Lavender (Lavandula spp)
Jasmine (Jasminum sambac, J. officinale)
. . . and another new plant to me:
Mauritian Mallow (Malva sylvestris mauritanica) - Purple flowering Tree Mallow which yields an excellent natural coloring for drinks and herbal teas!
Plus nearby was a favorite American beverage:
Coffee (Coffea arabica pacas)
A great day and a great look behind the scenes – we’ll be back, Mickey!