Seed Saving

Mid to late fall marks the closing of one growing season and the beginning of preparation for the next. What if instead of having to buy seeds from a garden center each year, we saved seeds from our own gardens and used them the following year? In this lesson, students will learn three different techniques for saving seeds from vegetables and herbs already growing in their gardens and how to keep them all winter long until they're read to be sown once more.

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Seed Saving

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Mid to late fall marks the closing of one growing season and the beginning of preparation for the next. What if instead of having to buy seeds from a garden center each year, we saved seeds from our own gardens and used them the following year? In this lesson, students will learn three different techniques for saving seeds from vegetables and herbs already growing in their gardens and how to keep them all winter long until they're read to be sown once more.

Theme

Garden Calendar

Subjects

Science

Learning Environment

Garden

Prep Time

10 minutes

Grade

K-8

Lesson Time

50 minutes

Role of Teacher

Classroom management

Season

Fall

Materials

Background Information

  • Seed saving is the ancient practice of collecting the seeds after plants have gone to seed and storing them for use the following season.
  • What if our tomatoes didn’t make any seeds? How would we grow them again the next year? Without saving seeds, we would never be able to grow our food from year to year. Plants produce seeds just like humans have children; to continue their families from generation to generation.
  • Over time, different fruits and vegetables adopt different traits and characteristics that help them stay alive as the world, climate, and the environment around them changes. Seeds from strong plants that have survived diseases, pests, and droughts are desirable because they are likely to do the same in the future and as such yield a greater amount of produce. This is called adaptation and means more food will be growing in the garden to be cooked in the kitchen!

Topics / Goals / Learning Objectives

  • To understand plant adaptation.
  • To understand how to save seeds from tomatoes, basil, and fennel.

Opening

Welcome to the garden! Today we are going to learn about an ancient tradition and the reason why human beings are still alive. Does anyone know what seed saving means? (Allow time for brainstorming.) Seed saving is the ancient practice of collecting the seeds after plants have bolted and storing them for use the following season.

But why do plants produce seeds? (Allow time for brainstorming.) What if our tomatoes didn’t make any seeds? How would we grow them again the next year? Without saving seeds, we would never be able to grow our food from year to year. Plants produce seeds just like humans have children: to continue their families from generation to generation.

And just like humans have evolved and adapted over the years, over time different fruits and vegetables adopt different traits and characteristics that help them stay alive as the world, climate, and the environment around them changes. Seeds from strong plants that have survived diseases, pests, and droughts are desirable because they are likely to do the same in the future and as such yield a greater amount of produce. This is called plant adaptation and means more food growing in the garden to be cooked in the kitchen!

Today we are going to save seeds from some of the plants that have been growing in our garden all summer so that we can save them and plant them again next year and have more food for the future. Let’s begin!

Procedures / Activities

Prep: Gather materials and create separate areas where students can work in groups saving seeds.

  1. Welcome students to the garden and introduce the lesson with the Opening above.
  2. Have everyone gather around a table and demonstrate the 3 different techniques of seed saving for each plant. (See worksheets.)
  3. Divide the class into groups of 4-5, lead them to their separate areas, and assign them the tomatoes, basil, or peppers. While the students are working, walk around and support them and answer any questions they have.
  4. After every group finishes saving their seeds, have them explore the garden and see what other plants are going to seed. Pose the questions: Can you always see the seeds? Are they inside the plant or outside? Are they wet or dry? How does this change the way we save their seeds?
  5. When everyone is finished seed saving and exploring the garden, gather as a group and have the different groups explain how they saved their seeds to the whole group. Discuss what the students observed when they explored the garden. Which other seeds are ready to be saved? How do they think they will save them?

Extensions / Adaptations / Games

End with a tasting of fennel seeds. They taste like licorice!

Lesson Resources

SeedSaving_Lesson

Credit for Adaptation

Saving Seeds, Edible Schoolyard Pittsburgh. www.edibleschoolyardpgh.org