Aug 12, 2010
kinderGARDENS Week 18 - We're saving seed!
We all know how poorly the green roof has done this summer, it's creeping just as slow as can be so I have had to find other projects for the kids to work on in the garden.
This week: Seed Saving!
Teaching the next generation to just say "no" to genetically engineered seed one kinder "gardener" at a time!
The storms over the past couple of weeks have shown me that the time is NOW for saving seed from the UFO tomato aka J. Gyllenhaal if we are to have future generations.
History: This seed was handed to me on the sly in a Master Gardener training class by an elderly lady who could no longer garden. She had 6 seeds left in the world, they had been saved in her family since the early 1900's and she was the last. That's a lot to live up to! Even though we have no clue (obviously from the name I have given them) what they are, they are huge heirloom, a beefsteak-meaty interior, the taste has improved steadily over the season, and is hands-down the healthiest tomato plant I have ever grown, hybrids included. These laughed in the face of wilt and extreme heat and windstorms that my other tomatoes succumbed to. Even if they didn't taste good, I kind of owe it to her to save the seed!
Enter the kids: this involves goo and mold so it is the perfect project for them!
Step 1: Select the best looking, ripest tomato of the harvest (i.e. the most Jake G. looking specimen!)
Step 2: Slice in half across the equator exposing all the seed cavities
Step 3: squeeze seeds AND pulp into jar or container, adding water really isn't necessary and can slow down the fermentation process, just make sure to get plenty of the pulp/juice in there
Here's what's left after squeezing! The kids love this step for the goo factor!
Step 4: cover and put aside, wait for mold to start growing! This is a fun step for the kids, it can take several days but in our house with the A/C struggling to keep up it only took 24 hours!
oh, the science of it all!
24-72 hrs later you should have mold growing and fermentation is underway! This natural fermentation is what removes the protective seed coat to prepare the seed for germination. Think of it this way: if left to its own devices, the tomato simply drops to the ground and turns into a rotten, slimy mess - but it's nature's way of perpetuation, that's how we get all those volunteers, another way is by animals eating the seeds and in turn their digestive systems break down the seed coat and it is then "pooped out" somewhere else where the seed will grow! Believe me, this is fun gross stuff to little boys!
Step 5: Once the mold has grown and fermentation has obviously been taking place (you'll smell it LOL), skim off the mold, add water and stir up. Look for floating seeds now and skim out, they are most likely not viable. Strain the rest out, rinse well, and leave to dry on a paper towel for 1-4 weeks, you want them to be fully dry before storing.
The kids can't quite figure out why mom put a picture on the paper towel, but I'm sure you can guess! Maybe for those that want to try these next year, I can send you a homemade J. Gyllenhaal artsy seed packet - sounds like a good winter project, albeit a loony one. But that's me, crazy mom!
Step 6: Store in airtight container, envelope, baggie, etc and make sure you LABEL them!
Step 7: Revel in the satisfaction of watching budding little botanists (pun intended) take a plant from SEED TO SEED!
Kids training video!
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