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     If you are not aware, there is a tour that will take you out of the boat at the Living with the Land attraction and give you an up close view of the laboratory, aqua farming and the hydroponics gardens. If you have any interest in gardening or just curious about how they do it, the Behind the Seeds Tour is worth a look. The tour lasts about 45 minutes, cost $18.00 per person and is open to all ages. Our group in the tour was small. It was my wife, our four children and I, along with another couple and their two children. 
     The tour starts by checking in next to the entrance to Soarin. Here you will get your name tag and introduced to your tour guide, in our case Kara. Our first stop was in a small room where we were introduced to some bugs and a short video. Here we learned that some bugs are good for plants and others, not so much. As referred to on the attraction some bugs are used as natural pesticides. After a short walk we were introduced to another lab where experiments were being done and plant cells are used to create new plants. Some of those plants can be purchased at the gift shop across from the Soarin entrance and the tour check in. From here we walked to the hydroponics gardens and saw many incredible ways to grow fruits and vegetables in adverse conditions. Some of the techniques were used for sandy soils others for gardens with minimal space. Increased crop production was another key part of the hydroponics goal. The system they have is incredible to say the least with how they track the plants and add nutrients to the soils and watering system. The first group we saw was the hanging plants where all the plants are on an overhead conveyer system. This is where the plants are continually moving occasionally going through a a water sprayer that contains nutrient rich water. In the next section of plants was another non soil growth process. I thought this system was interesting because it used common items and was simple but effective. They took PVC railings and put the plants into the slots where the rungs would slide into. Next they had a hose that had holes in it to deliver water to each of the railings. Once again the water contained high levels of nutrients for the plants to compensate for the lack of soil. Another technique they used for cucumbers was to put the roots in soil and to have the vine lead up to a section of lattice or string where the cucumbers could hang down and grow more effectively and increase their yield. We then saw a method where planting boxes were stacked on top of each other with soil in them. Each of the boxes had holes in them for water to filter through to the next plant after being watered from above. It is a great way to conserve space in your garden. After touring the hydroponics area, we were lead to a little refrigerator where we sampled a Mickey shaped cucumber. It tasted the same but as a Disney fan it was fun to eat. 
     Our next stop along the tour was in the aquaculture area. Although brief, it was an interesting look at how aquaculture crops are produced and how quick the maturation process is for some breeds of fish, specifically talapia. It was interesting to see how many talapia were in the tank at one time and they would all be served in a meal throughout Epcot at some point. 
At the next stop we played a little game guessing different spices and then seeing how they grow and what they look like before they are crushed to be added to our food. We also got to see more examples of plants being grown in sandy soils and their fruits hanging from lines of string from above. To add a little Disney Magic to a black pepper plant the horticulturalists trimmed the plant into a Mickey head, which the kids thought was great. 
     That was where our tour ended. However we did walk back the way we came and got to take in a little more of the atmosphere and look around a bit. I have to admit that this was not a tour that I wanted to do. My wife on the other hand has wanted to do this tour for a while. Although it wasn’t my first choice for tour, I really enjoyed it. The tour was an eye opener and my wife and I want to try a few of their tricks in our garden next year. 
     If you have done this tour, please leave a comment and give us your thoughts. Follow us on Twitter @disneyhelp and like us on Facebook at Disney Help.