As a nice Jewish boy, I think I am naturally (by the deviation in my septum) to Florida. The warm climate, sunshine and fun all have their appeals but I am not much of a beach person and I would probably burst into flames without an umbrella, zinc oxide and SPF 9000. But, when my job required me to go to Florida for a conference I thought I should make it doubly useful. One, I would go to my conference, spend my evenings at the computer working on homework and other business, but I also thought I should do a little gardening research and report back on the blog.
One of the fascinating places here in the Orlando area is Epcot Center. The Land Pavilion at Walt Disney World’s EPCOT Center was opened in 1982 and prominently features a variety of hydroponic techniques for growing vegetables; I got a chance to tour the exhibit at the pavilion during some off time (evening) from the conference (Epcot is 2 miles from my hotel and the Living with the Land boat tour is only 14 minutes long!).
Hydroponics is a method of agriculture that doesn’t use any soil. Plants are fed with nutrient solution that contains all of the minerals they need for growth. Hydroponic systems can be either media-based, with some sort of inert media supporting the roots, or water culture, which doesn’t utilize any other growing media at all. Hydroponics is commonly used on Space Shuttle missions and on space stations to supply some fresh food. Since soil doesn’t exist in space, researchers believe that hydroponics is the way to go in the future for long-term stays on space stations or on long orbiting missions and NASA is always experimenting with new setups.
Hydroponics holds a lot of promise for future generations as it represents a way to continue to have fresh vegetables even if we are not habituating this earth. It also holds a lot of promise for famine relief if the techniques are researched to the point of being cost effective for economically depressed societies.
It was a really interesting tour and I remain fascinated by all the new advancements in growing techniques. However, I still believe the quality of the produce grown in this manner can never equal that of something grown from properly maintained and cared for land. The flavor of something grown in a nutrient enhanced solution can never rival that of something grown in nutrient rich, compost enhanced soil.