Spring in the school garden is such an exciting time. Bonbeach Primary School students in grades Prep/One came into the garden and learnt everything about growing tomatoes.
In order to plant our tomato seedlings we have had to understand the life-cycle of a seed, what elements it needs to germinate, the process of composting and pollination and how to use garden tools safely.
Prior to planting we spent a few weeks preparing the soil for the tomatoes. Broad Beans were harvested and delivered to the Grade 5/6 students who grew them in previous classes. Prep/one classes eagerly pulled out the bean stalks and dug trenches in the beds placing the broad bean plants in and stomping them down. Tomatoes need potassium more than any other nutrient – without it the tomato plant can’t produce the volume or quality intended. What better way to add potassium than with our broad bean plants. Compost from the giant worm farm was added to the soil and turned in.
Leaf Root and Fruits Heirloom Tomato seedlings of Blueberry, Violet Jasper, Jaune Flamme, Green Zebra, Tiger Stripe, Sunrise Bumblebee were chosen so that our little greenthumbs could discover the importance of not only growing their own food but the varieties they come in.
Planting Day! Students were asked to bring a banana for morning snack. Weirdly, they could not understand how a banana would help with tomato planting! Once we learned that banana skins are a high source of potassium, the kids quickly worked out that we would be planting our banana skins in the holes dug for our tomato seedlings.
Once our tomato plants were in the ground, we measured and recorded the height and we continued to measure and record growth information each week. We also needed to learn how to water our tomatoes with all students obtaining a watering can licence!
Building structures to support the tomatoes was a little tricky for younger students, so we asked older students to assist with this process. Next we learnt all about a good bug, our friend the ladybug! and our bad bug the aphid. We now understand their life cycles and what roles they play in the garden. Not forgetting bees and the importance of pollination.
Finally, it was time to plant companion plants – basil and marigolds to discover how they help each other grow.
Everyday, we saw kids proudly showing parents and grandparents the heirloom tomatoes! The colour variety of these tomatoes was fascinating for the students as most believed tomatoes were red or yellow. Seeing the pinks and purples and stripes was surprising to all of the kids and some parents. We harvested tomatoes in all colours, shapes and sizes over summer.
Creating a menu saw many ideas, but the winning idea was Tomato Sushi! Students got to carefully harvest their precious tomatoes and use a kiddy kutter safety knife to chop them up and add torn up basil leaves. We then rolled our tomato mix inside a lettuce leaf. Tomato dripped down faces and arms as the kids enjoyed their meal, many saying they didn’t like tomatoes, but these ones were different, they were delicious.
Thankyou to Leaf Root and Fruit for their generous donation of heirloom tomatoes! There are now 80 kids and their families who have found a new love for something new when it comes to eating different coloured tomatoes!