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Super Seed Savers

Seeds come in many shapes and sizes and can be easily saved and stored for the future.

As you’ve learnt, seeds are essential for our future. Scientists at the Australian PlantBank are saving seeds right now. Let’s see what they have learnt about seeds and how you too can save seeds.  

Seeds like specific temperature, moisture and light conditions to germinate.  

This is to ensure that they begin to grow when temperatures are not too harsh and yet rainfall is sufficient to keep the tiny seedlings alive. If moisture, appropriate temperature and light conditions are provided, but a seed still does not germinate, then two things may have happened - the seed is not viable or perhaps the seed is dormant (asleep).  

Why can some seeds tolerate being dried and not others? 

Desiccation (dryness) sensitivity in seeds occurs as a response to the environment a seed is living in. Seeds that come from wet environments (e.g. rainforests) don't like to be dry, while seeds from dry or cold environments (e.g. deserts) don’t mind dryness. This makes sense as all plants need some water to grow and if water is not available when seeds are mature in the desert, then seedlings would not survive. Being able to survive in a dry state until water is available, ensures seeds live to become plants. This could take years in some cases.  

However, seeds found in wet humid environments are not going to survive very long on the forest floor before they get consumed by animals or rot in the wet soil, so it’s important that they germinate quickly when the conditions are right. 

What exactly is Cryopreservation and how does it work? 

Cryopreservation is the cold storage of living material such as seeds in liquid nitrogen at around -196° C. Although the material is still alive, all cellular activity has stopped which leaves the tissue ‘frozen in time.’ Seeds, buds, shoots and even pollen can be successfully cryopreserved. Seeds stored this way are quite safe as they are protected from contamination by pests and diseases. See the process that our scientists use in the videos below.  

Now it’s time to collect your own seeds to sort and store for the future. If you can seed save like a scientist, then you will always have seeds to grow your own food, fibre and more!

When seed saving, there are two main methods: wet and dry. View the slideshow below to follow the step by step methods for seed saving.  

To become a super seed saver, view the three videos below to learn more in-depth techniques:  

Activities - Super seed savers

1. Designing a seed bank

We know that seeds need to be stored somewhere they can be kept cold, dark and dry. Somewhere like PlantBank! It’s time to show your teachers what you have learned about seed banks by designing your own. Your challenge is to store your collected seeds for the future by first researching and designing (drawing on paper) a great seed bank. Work in groups to also make a scale model of the seed bank.  

  • What materials will it be made of? E.g. paper, cardboard, plastic, metal 
  • Where will it be located? 
  • What will your seed bank be named? 
  • What makes your seed bank better than all other seed banks? Work with your group to write a pitch your ideas to a scientific panel (your teacher).  

2. Getting crafty

Let’s celebrate the amazing cycle of plant life from seed to flower, to fruit and back to seed. Now that you have a healthy bank of seeds for the future, you can have fun exploring ways to spread them in the community. Below are some ideas for gifting seeds to friends, family and the community. Click on the links to explore!

  1. Make a Seed bomb to throw into a playground or home garden – be sure to throw it somewhere the seeds will enjoy growing! Then, with your teacher’s help, complete a flowchart showing the process of making a seed bomb.  
  2. Make Seed paper using your seeds and used printer paper. This is a great way to recycle paper into something useful. You’ll need some special equipment, including a blender and some flyscreen. 
  3. Gift someone a jar or paper packet of dried seeds, plus the perfect home to plant the seeds in; a pot and some seed raising mix.

3. Word-find challenge

You may have come across some new words. See if you can find them in this find-a-word and then reflect on what they mean.

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