Glossary of Gardening Terms
Soil with a pH rating below neutral (7.0)
Soil that is above the neutral pH rating of 7.0
Plants that will generally live for only one season.
A plant that grows for two seasons. In the second season, the plant goes to seed. Parsley is a biennial.
The process of forcing plants to turn lighter in color and become more tender, by hiding them from the sunlight at a certain point in their growth cycle. It's comonly used for cauliflower, asparagus, celery, and endive.
A plant’s flower
When a plant goes to seed, often earlier than expected, causing the plant to become less edible. For example brocooli will bolt if the weather turns hot. At this point, the plant's energy goes into reproducing.
Partially decomposed organic material, prepared for use in improving soil
A solid bulblike organ
When pollen transfers from the flower of one plant to that of another. Generally used to refer to a situation where varieties mix by such means. For example, if you plant your banana peppers near your jalapenos nature may give you some zesty banana peppers.
Any part of a plant that is cut off and used to start a new plant.
When the leaves fall off your plant too early. Can be caused by lack of water, insects, or plant diseases.
To churn the soil with a spade or shovel, so that the added material is well mixed in to the base soil.
Some perennials can be divided. This means literally dividing the plant into sections so that each sizeable section has a healthy portion of roots. You then plant each section as a separate plant.
A sleeping or resting period for your perennial plants
How readily the soil will allow water to flow freely through. For example, a garden bed that quickly gets and stays marshy, would not be considered to have good drainage.
The term for when your seeds sprout. For example, it's often used in a phrase like "3 weeks to germination" meaning: 3 weeks from when you plant your seed to when it should sprout.
Tilling living plants into your soil, to act as a fertilizer for the soil.
To gradually introduce your young seedling plants to outdoors conditions. If done too quickly, you will shock your plants and possibly cause irreparable damage to them.
The ability of a plant to withstand hot or cold climates
The act of periodically piling soil up around the base of a plant to help keep the roots cool and covered. Normally used for plants like potatoes and leeks.
Fully decomposed organic matter
A crossbreed between two different species. Seeds taken from hybrids will not produce fruit that is true to the parents. Instead, they tend to revert to a form of the grandparent fruit.
A fertilizer that does not contain carbon compounds
The grub or immature stage of an insect
Any plant belonging to the pea family
Digging up a plant and removing it from the ground
Soil that contains clay and sand
A small area with a different climate than the surrounding area
A fungus that produces a whitish covering
A mature bulb that has developed offset bulbs
A mature healthy plant that’s used to take propagations from
A layer of loose organic material spread thickly over the ground, to minimize weeds, help the intended plants retain moisture (keeps as much water from evaporating from the soil), and will keep the ground cooler – protecting tender roots from severe heat.
Soil that has a pH of around 7.0. It's neither acidic nor alkaline.
To provide conditions that enable plants to live throughout (even if dormant) the winter
Peat made from sphagnum moss
Plants that generally will live for multiple seasons, in the plants preferred climate.
The measurement of the level of acidity of an item. In gardening, soil and water are the things normally tested. In life, everything (even humans) have a pH level. Different plants have differing requirements for pH levels. If planted in soil that's outside their optimal pH range, the plant's health and productivity suffers. For more information: How to test and change your soil pH level.
To pinch off a new/soft shoot, usually with your fingers
Dust-like grains that are the male reproductive cells of a plant. They are carried by the wind, bugs, animals to the female flowers of the plant. Without sufficient pollination, your plants will bear little fruit. If you live in an area with few bees or pollinating insects, you may need to pollinate some of your plants by hand (use a small artists paintbrush to carry pollen from one flower to another).
A thick underground stem
A slender stem that grows as a shoot from the mother plant. If left unattended, runners will root and produce additional plant offspring. Strawberries are the classic example of a plant that reproduces this way.
A young plant that's been started from seed.
Stratification of Seed
The process used for making seeds with very hard shell covers ready for germination. It generally requires keeping the seeds cold and moist for periods of time. Some methods suggest gently scoring the seed with a knife and soaking in water.
Planting a crop multiple times, spaced at differing times in the growing season, to allow for a continued crop of the vegetable. For example, for a longer season of pea harvesting, you might plant several rows, then wait two weeks and plant several more rows, etc.
Clipping off weaker or crowded seedlings from a garden row or patch, giving the remaining plants enough room to grow more strongly, without having to compete with other plants for nutrients.
When the seedlings first emerge, they have a set of small leaves. The next set of leaves that grow are usually considered the “true leaves.”
A thickened underground stem or root (ie. A potato is a tuber)
Supporting with ties
Tall garden plants often need additional support to keep from being damaged or uprooted in wind and storms. This is normally done by attaching stems of the plant to a stake, post, or some other struture. Ideally, the structure should be inserted in the ground near the plant when the plant is still small (inserting it later can damage the root system). Use soft strips of material, string or soft twine to affix the stems to the support. Make sure that the stem is held solidly enough to protect it from the storm, but loosely enough that the tie won't interfere with the plant as it grows through the season.
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Note: the advice and information contained herein is based upon our experience and study. As with any advice, please apply at your own discretion.