Saving Tomato Seeds

The plant life-cycle is a fascinating thing. That little seed becomes a plant, the plant bears fruit, the fruit creates more seeds and those seeds become another plant. Once this cycle is understood, this seed saving activity becomes part of the garden calendar.

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Saving Tomato Seeds

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The plant life-cycle is a fascinating thing. That little seed becomes a plant, the plant bears fruit, the fruit creates more seeds and those seeds become another plant. Once this cycle is understood, this seed saving activity becomes part of the garden calendar.

Theme

Recipe of the Month

Subjects

Science

Learning Environment

Teaching Kitchen

Prep Time

30 minutes (Kitchen prep: Par-steam beets and potatoes)

Grade

4-8

Lesson Time

Three lessons with a tie-in to a cooking lesson. First two lessons are 45 min, the last lesson can be done in 20 min.

Role of Teacher

Teach lesson

Season

Summer/Fall

Materials

Ingredients: None

Equipment:

  • 4-8 tomatoes
  • Cutting boards
  • Knives
  • Spoons
  • Bowls
  • Strainers
  • Parchment paper or (optional)
  • Trays
  • Glass jars or ziplock baggies

Background Info

  • Seed saving is an important part of garden based education and can be used to teach science, ELA, history, math, and social skills. This lesson connects to science, however the activity itself can be connected any subject area.

Topics/Goals/Learning Objectives

  • Students will learn how to process and save tomato seeds.
  • Students will learn about the life cycle of plants.
  • Students will learn about how seeds help cycle energy through ecosystems.
  • Students will use practice observation and recording skills.
  • Students will learn about the fall garden calendar.

Opening/Hook

As gardeners, what are the activities we do in the garden in the Fall? (Brainstorm) Seed Saving is one of the most exciting fall garden activities and today we will learn how to process and save the seeds of the tomato plant. There are many different ways to save seeds, and the tomato has to go through some odd steps in order for the seeds to be able to germinate. Who knows what fermentation is? The tomato seed needs to ferment, or get moldy as that process eats away the gelatinous sac that inhibits germination. Why do you think a tomato has made this adaptation?

The Plan/Procedure/Lesson Activities

(Set up Stations with 4 students in each)

Prep 

This lesson can connect with a cooking lesson that involves tomatoes or it may be done as a stand alone lesson. In this case, this follows our Recipe of the Month lesson No Cook Tomato Sauce.

While preparing “No Cook Tomato Sauce”, students scoop the seeds from the tomatoes, place the pulp in a bowl and set them aside for the lesson.

Once the cooking lesson is completed — 

  1. Students review the steps for saving tomato seeds and record them in science journals.
  2. They record observations of the tomato pulp they have collected in a bowl from the cooking lesson.
  3. Students learn that tomatoes need to ferment and mold before they can be processed and they make predictions about when they will know the seeds are fermented and ready for processing.
  4. Students place bowls in safe place.

Follow-up Lesson 2-3 days later — 

  1. Students form workgroups of four and review the steps for processing tomato seeds.
  2. Students record observations on how the pulp has changed.
  3. Students place one scoop of moldy tomato pulp in a strainer and rinse.
  4. Students place the tomato seeds onto a lined tray, remove any remaining pulp, separate the seeds and count them.
  5. Students place trays in a safe area to dry.

Follow-up lesson after seeds have dried — 

  1. Students record observations of the how the seeds have changed.
  2. Students label an air tight container or sealable plastic bag with the type of tomato the seeds are from, the date and the number of tomato seeds.
  3. Students place seeds into container.
  4. Students can make a math connection and calculate the value of the seeds they saved.
  5. Students can write how – to steps for when they plant the tomatoes.

 Lesson Resources and/or Credit for Adaptation

A Handful of Seeds: Seed-Saving and Seed Study for Educators. Occidental Arts and Ecology Center www.oaec.org

Harvest