Gardening

Garden Glossary

Tags:

We’ve gathered a list of common edible gardening terms and their definitions. Browse the garden glossary and learn. To quickly find the word you’re looking for, click on the appropriate letter below.

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

A

Acidic Soil

soil with pH lower than 7.0; adding garden lime (calcium carbonate) to the soil is a common practice used by gardeners to raise the pH level of soils that are too acid; the ideal pH for most vegetables is between 6.2 and 6.8, while herbs prefer a pH near neutral 7.0

Aeration

refers to the amount of air space available in soil; roots need air to thrive, and air spaces also provide drainage and passages for insects and worms in the soil-food web; sandy soils have greatest aeration; heavy clay soils have the least; well-aerated soils are key to growing healthy plants so that roots can breathe; many root crops, such as carrot or sweet potato, love well-aerated sandy soil, which is also referred to as “light” soil

Alkaline Soil

soil with pH between 7.1 and 14; alkaline soil is also referred to as “sweet” soil; adding sulfur to the soil can lower the pH level of soilthat is too alkaline; the ideal pH for most vegetables is between 6.2 and 6.8, while herbs prefer a pH near neutral 7.0

All-America Selection (AAS)

AAS varieties have been awarded distinction by a panel of judges for exceptional performance for disease or pest resistance, novel forms, earliness to bloom, great harvest yields and other desirable qualities; winners have performed well in trial gardens throughout the United States and the program has been giving awards annually since 1932

Amendment

a material added to soil, usually to improve its ability to grow plants; it may improve fertility, drainage, or ability to retain water, or change pH; an amendment is most often worked into existing soil, as opposed to mulch, which is placed on top of soil; amendments include rotted or aged manure, cottonseed meal, compost, sand, peat moss, garden lime, and garden sulfur; nitrogen-rich amendments include many fertilizers, blood meal, cottonseed meal, and composted manure

Annual

a plant that completes its life cycle in one growing season; roots, stems, and leaves die annually; many vegetables are annuals, including beancucumber, and squash

back to top

B

Banding

a method of placing fertilizer in a narrow strip either on the soil surface or below it, typically near the root zone of plants (normal recommendations suggest 4-6 inches away from plants); banding is often done at or prior to planting time as a starter fertilizer for young transplants; it is commonly practiced in cool, wet regions and when growing using a no-till system of raised beds

Beefsteak

a type of tomato that is very large (up to 1 pound), often irregularly shaped, and has a good solid flesh; beefsteak tomatoes are juicy and frequently grown for slicing; examples include ‘Better Boy‘, ‘Goliath‘, and ‘Mr. Stripey

Beneficial Insects

insects that are considered friendly inhabitants in the garden, largely because they are predators of harmful pests; ladybugs and praying mantis are widely recognized as beneficial insects and sometimes released into gardens as a natural pest control

Biennial

a plant that blooms in its second year and then dies; parsley is a biennial plant; onion is botanically biennial when grown from seed, but because our onion transplants are so far along when planted, they are grown like an annual and will often bloom the first year

Bird netting

a lightweight, usually plastic net that’s used to protect ripening crops, such as strawberries, from foraging birds, rodents, and other critters; you can also toss netting over plants like beans to prevent deer and rabbits from feasting on foliage

Black Gold

a gardening term often used to describe ideal loam soil, or a finished form of compost; loamy soil rich in organic matter

Black Plastic Mulch

a type of inorganic mulch made from sheets of black plastic laid on the ground; used to smother weeds or warm soil; especially in cooler climates, black plastic is used to warm the soil for heat-loving crops and extend the growing season

Blanching

  1. during growing, blanching is a technique used to shade plant parts from sunlight to prevent greening; it’s used when growing cauliflower to keep heads white (the process involves using a clothespin or twine to hold leaves over maturing heads); it’s also used with leeks (in this case, soil is heaped against stems to produce the classic white form)
  2. in food preservation, blanching is a process by which vegetables are partially cooked by placing into boiling water for a prescribed time and then quickly cooled to stop the cooking process; done prior to freezing, blanching helps vegetables retain color, crispness, and flavor; it also neutralizes enzymes and bacteria that can cause items to spoil

Blossom Drop

common name when flowers form then drop without forming fruit or form small fruit that drop; most tomatoespeppers, and eggplant will drop blossoms when daytime temperatures are above 90 degrees F and/or nighttime temperatures are above 75 degrees F; blossoms will also drop when night temperatures drop below 55 degrees F

Blossom-End Rot

a blemish that causes rot (most often in tomatoes and peppers) on the blossom-end of the fruit, (opposite the stem end); blossom-end rot is usually the result of lack of calcium available in the soil or inconsistent water levels

Bolt

a process that occurs when leafy vegetables flower and go to seed; when bolting occurs, plants grow taller and leaves lose flavor and become bitter; bolting is typically triggered by longer days and warmer weather; crops prone to bolt prematurely because of improper temperature or other stress include cilantrolettuceonionspinach, and members of the cabbage family, such as kalecabbage, and broccoli

Breaker Stage

refers to a stage of ripening in tomatoes when the fruit is first starting to show hints of mature color (beyond green); tomatoespicked at the breaker stage will continue to color and ripen after picking if placed in a cool, dry place out of direct sun

Browns

a compost ingredient that is rich in carbon; sometimes abbreviated “C”; typically, browns are dry materials, such as fallen leaves, pine needles, hay, straw, sawdust, shredded paper, newspaper, cardboard; good compost contains a ratio of 3 parts browns to 1 part greens

Bt

short for Bacillus thuringiensis, a naturally occurring soil bacterium used to kill certain insect pests; Bt produces proteins that react with cells in the guts of certain insects, paralyzing the insect digestive system so that it stops feeding and dies of starvation; Bt doesn’t kill beneficial insects; different strains of Bt affect specific insects, including caterpillars, fungus gnats, and Colorado potato beetles; insects must eat the Bt to be affected, so the insects will still be active for a short while after applying, as it does not kill instantly after spraying; Bt comes in a liquid or powder that’s mixed with water and sprayed onto plants; sunlight breaks it down in about 7 days, although residual effect varies by strain

Bush Variety

a compact form of a plant that yields full-size fruit, but typically less fruit than the full-size plant over the course of the growing season; bush varieties are ideal for growing in small gardens or containers; bush tomatoes are typically determinate

back to top

C

Cole Crop

any plant belonging to the mustard (cabbage) family, including cabbageBrussels sproutscauliflowercollardskalekohlrabimustard, and turnip; cole crops thrive in cool seasons

Cold-Tender Annual

a plant that is typically killed by freezing temperatures

Compost

an organic soil amendment that results from decomposing organic matter, such as leaves and vegetable scraps; compost enhances soil fertility, improves clay soil’s ability to drain, and improves sandy soil’s ability to retain water; some gardeners refer to compost as “Black Gold

Composting

the technique of recycling organic material such as leaves and vegetable scraps so that they decompose into a rich soil amendment that gardeners fondly nickname “Black Gold

Container Garden

planting vegetables, herbs, or flowers in individual containers or pots rather than in-ground or in raised beds

Cool-Weather or Cool-Season Crops

vegetables and herbs that flourish in the cooler seasons of early spring and fall; they usually become bitter or bolt in the warmer temperatures of summer

Cracking

when the skins of fruits, such as tomatoes, split or crack from a large fluctuation in water intake; often due to inconsistent watering or after rainy spells

Crack-Resistant

a vegetable or fruit whose skin isn’t prone to crack easily; cracking typically happens following a quick supply of lots of rain or watering, because the plant is stressed from taking up water faster than the skin can expand; it’s most often used in reference to tomatoescabbages are referred to as split-resistant

Cucurbit

a plant belonging to the plant family Cucurbitaceae, or gourd family; includes squasheswatermelonscantaloupe, gourds, pumpkins, and cucumbers

Culinary (as in herbs)

referring to plant crops used in cooking

Cut-and-Come Again Harvest

a harvest method used with leafy crops where you cut off the entire plant, when plants reach 3 to 6 inches tall, leaving a half-inch stub; plants re-sprout to yield more harvests later; with most greens, you can anticipate three to four harvests with this method; good crops for this method include leaf lettucearugulacilantroparsley, and turnip and mustard greens

Cutworm Collar

a barrier, such as a strip of aluminum foil, placed around the base of a seedling at the soil to prevent cutworms from reaching and injuring young stems

back to top

D

Day-Length

the measure of daylight hours within one day; day-length is longer in the summer and shorter in fall and winter in the North Hemisphere

Day-Neutral

refers to plants that mature or flower regardless of the length day; some plants, like onions, need either short days or long days to trigger maturity, but day-neutral plants don’t differentiate

Days to Maturity

the number of days from planting to the first harvest

Determinate

a type of tomato that stops growing when it reaches a certain height; the majority of fruits mature within a small window of time and are formed on the edges of plants; ideal for canning or preserving; examples include ‘Better Bush‘, and ‘Rutgers

Digging Fork

a digging tool with four tines used to lift and aerate soil, blend amendments into soil, or harvest potatoesonions, or leeks; sometimes called a spading or garden fork

Drip Irrigation

a highly efficient method of watering that delivers water very slowly, literally a drop at a time, from a tube placed near the base of the plant; the tube ends in an emitter, which allows water to pass through drop by drop; drip irrigation produces little waste and is an excellent choice for watering plants to conserve water and insure a steady, consistent supply

Drought Tolerant

a popular term used to describe plants that withstand periods without regular, consistent watering

back to top

E

Early Variety

a plant that matures earlier than typical for its type and delivers an early harvest; early varieties are ideal for planting in late summer to yield a fall crop; early tomato varieties include ‘Better Bush‘, ‘Bush Early Girl,’ ‘Big Beef,’ and ‘Early Girl

Edging Plant

refers to a plant that is low growing and can be used along the edges of planting beds or containers; because it has a short stature, an edging plant won’t hide mid-size and taller plants that are planted behind it; sweet marjoram and thyme make good edging plants

F

Female Flower

a flower that has only female parts; many vegetables have flowers that contain both male and female parts within the same flower, but cucurbits such as squashcucumbercantaloupe, and watermelon have separate male and female flowers, and pollen must be transferred from the male flower to female flowers by a pollinator such as a bee in order to make fruit; botanically, a female flower is also called a pistillate flower, it contains a pistil (female part made of stigma, style, and ovary) but no functioning pistil (male part including anthers)

Fertilizer

a material that adds nutrients to the soil and is essential to support the healthy growth of plants; fertilizer may be natural, such as manure, or synthetic; fertilizers typically contain nitrogen (N)phosphorus (P), and potassium (K), and often other nutrients

Fish Emulsion

liquid fertilizer created from byproducts of the fish oil and fish meal industry; it comes as a concentrate that you dilute with water and apply to foliage; fish emulsion has a high nitrogen content, which makes it a good choice for leafy greens, like broccoli or Swiss chard, but all plants respond to it; it can have a fishy smell, but you can purchase types with less odor

Floating Row Cover

a light- and water-transmitting polypropylene fabric that’s placed over plants (either directly or using a structure) to shield them from cold, birds, and insects or diseases spread by insects; row cover fabrics protect plants from cold and wind in early spring to allow for earlier planting, and the provide shade for plants and soil in hot regions; row covers come in different thicknesses for use in different seasons; lightweight fabrics work well in summer heat; heavier fabrics can protect plants against varying levels of cold; also called row cover or garden fabric

Frost Date

the dates designated by geographic location to determine the average first and last frost dates an area experiences; used as a guideline to determine a “safe” target planting date after the last frost of spring or before the first frost of fall; plants susceptible to frost damage are best transplanted within this window of time with enough days to mature before danger of frost

Fruit Set (or setting fruit)

initiation of fruit growth; pollination by wind or pollinators is required for fruit set

Full Sun

at least six hours of direct sunlight; most vegetables thrive with six hours of direct sunlight in order to properly set fruit and produce expected harvests

Fungicide

a chemical or natural compound that kills or inhibits fungi and/or fungal spores; fungicides are applied to plants to protect them from disease

Furrow

a narrow groove or row made in soil for planting seed or bulbs, including onions

G

Globe-Shaped

a round shape, usually in reference to a fruit or vegetable description; examples include ‘Summer Set’ tomato‘Green Globe’ artichoke, and ‘Candy’ onion

GMO and Genetically Engineered

the term “genetically modified organism,” or GMO, refers to plants produced through genetic engineering; genetic engineering uses molecular biology techniques to introduce new genes, or to eliminate or rearrange specific genes, in a plant (or any organism) to achieve desired traits; in short, it describes a biologically altered and cross-bred organism, usually by insertion (from another organism) of a gene that carries the desired traits via the process of genetic engineering, which is different from traditional crossing, or hybridization; Bonnie Plants does not sell plants grown from GMO seeds

Greens

compost ingredient that is rich in nitrogen (sometimes abbreviated “N”); typically greens are fresh, moist materials, such as grass clippings, fresh green plant parts, fruit and vegetable scraps from the kitchen, coffee grounds, manure, organic fertilizers; good compost contains a ratio of 3 parts browns to 1 part greens

Growth Habit

used to describe a plant’s characteristic shape, height, fullness or appearance such as upright or vining

back to top

H

Half-Hardy Perennial

refers to a perennial plant that is tolerant of some frost and whose roots come back the next growing season in a moderate climate, but that is not tolerant of severe cold weather; an example is Mexican tarragon

Hard Freeze

what occurs when the air temperature drops below 25 degrees Fahrenheit for four or more consecutive hours; many plants, even cool weather ones, have a hard time surviving a hard freeze and need to be protected via a row cover or cold frame

Hardened-Off

a term used to describe seedlings or plants that have experienced gradual exposure to outdoor growing conditions and as a result can withstand ambient temperature or sunlight; in spring, it’s vital to harden off indoor-raised seedlings to outdoor conditions; in fall, plants that have experienced the gradual cool-down are better able to withstand frosts when they arrive than if the weather were to drop from 80 degrees to 20 degrees overnight

Hardiness Zone

zones denoted on a U.S. map to highlight areas of similar temperature ranges, specifically the average annual lowest temperature; zone hardiness of plants describes an area where a plant is most likely to thrive and tolerate the duration of the lowest freezing temperatures

Hardy

describes a plant’s ability to thrive or survive undamaged in specified lowest minimum temperatures; the most cold hardy vegetablesare spinach and kale

Heirloom

generally, a plant that has been passed down through generations due to valued characteristics such as flavor and color; more specifically, a plant that is at least fifty years old, is not a hybrid, and is open-pollinated; the widely accepted categories of heirlooms are:

  1. commercial origin heirlooms, including open-pollinated varieties introduced before 1940, such as ‘Rutgers‘, and those in circulation for more than 50 years, such as ‘Bradley‘ and ‘Homestead‘;
  2. family origin heirlooms, passed down through generations, such as ‘Cherokee Purple‘ and ‘Arkansas Traveler‘;
  3. heirlooms created by crossing two heirlooms or an heirloom and hybrid;
  4. natural or mystery heirlooms, which are believed to be the result of natural cross pollination between two heirlooms

Hormone

a plant hormone is a chemical messenger made inside the plant that influences growth, either stimulating or inhibiting it; hormones govern plant processes such as fruit set or ripening, seed germination, and stem elongation; some hormones can be synthesized in a lab and sold for home garden purposes, such as blossom set spray, which stimulates blossoming or fruit set in tomatoes is one example

Hybrid

a plant produced as the result of a cross between two plants of different genotypes (plants that are different from each other genetically, such as a variety); in vegetables, hybrids are usually plants that are bred by crossing varieties; hybrids typically offer better disease resistance, higher yield, and other improved traits; our hybrids are not genetically engineered

I

Indeterminate

a type of tomato that grows and produces fruits during the entire growing season; sometimes called a vine tomato; fruits mature all season long and appear along the length of the vine; examples include ‘Big Boy‘, ‘Early Girl‘, and ‘Super Sweet 100

Inoculant

a product containing Rhizobium bacteria, which helps legume crops (peasbeans) to fix or add nitrogen to soil; inoculant improves yield of legumes; inoculant typically comes in a powder form that you add to soil at planting time; bacteria establish in soil; once established, you don’t need to add more

Insecticidal Soap

a soap formulated specifically to control insect pests; known for its insecticidal properties, thanks to the potassium salt in the fatty acids the soap contains; insecticidal soaps don’t typically harm plants (unlike household soaps, which often have perfumes and other additives); soaps are most effective against soft-bodied insects such as aphids, young scales, mealybugs, and whiteflies; except for predatory mites, most beneficial insects aren’t hurt by insecticidal soap as long as they are not wet by the spray

Intensive Gardening or Intensive Spacing

planting crops closer together than the recommended spacing (found on plant tags and labels) to maximize available garden space; reducing wasted space to interplant complementary crops, thereby increasing yields and reducing the need to weed

Invasive

often used to describe the characteristic of a plant to thrive and readily re-seed, spread or multiply easily outside of natural range

IRT Film

infrared transmitting plastic (IRT) is laid as a mulch on the surface of soil to transmit infrared radiation, while blocking most light (similar to black plastic mulch); it is used to warm the soil in spring, especially in cold climates; IRT film is usually translucent brown or green

back to top

J

June-Bearing

a description used for strawberries that produce fruit once mid-season, around June in the North, rather than multiple times (seeming continuous) throughout summer (i.e. everbearing)

K

K (potassium)

the abbreviation for potassium; the last of three letters (N-P-K) used on packaged fertilizers to denote the percentage (by weight) of potassium contained; potassium contributes to a plant’s overall health

L

Lanky

too-long stems often a result of not enough light; these stems are weak and tend to fall over

Layering

a method of propagating or rooting a plant in which you lay a stem that’s alive and growing against soil, holding it in place with a stone, brick, or landscape staple; the stem produces roots where it touches soil; eventually, when roots are in place, you can cut the rooted seedling free from the main or mother plant to plant as a seedling; plants that layer easily include mosquito plant and tomato

Light Frost

what occurs when the temperature drops below 32 degrees Fahrenheit and ice crystals begin to form; many cool weather vegetables (such as kale and collards) can not only survive a light frost, but even have their flavor improved by it

Lime

calcium carbonate, or garden lime, is a type of soil amendment used to raise soil pH; it comes in different forms; some forms are fast-acting, other takes months to shift pH; some types are pelletized, others are fine and dusty; read product labels to buy the right type for your situation

Liming

adding lime (calcium carbonate) to soil to raise its pH and make it less acidic

Long-Day Onions

the term given to onion varieties that require a minimum number of days with long periods of sunlight to form proper bulbs; describes growing conditions where daylight lasts at least 14 hours, and nights are, of course, shorter; long-day onions are typically grown in the North

M

Macronutrients

the elements used in largest quantity by plants that are essential to growth and health; they are nitrogen (N)phosphorous (P), and potassium (K), calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg), and sulfur (S); also called major elements; three macronutrients (nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium) are always listed on fertilizer labels by percentage (ex. 8-4-4 is the percentage of N-P-K in Bonnie Herb, Vegetable & Flower Plant Food)

Male Flower

a flower that has only male parts; many vegetables have flowers that contain both male and female parts within the same flower, but cucurbits such as squashcucumbercantaloupe, and watermelon have separate male and female flowers, and pollen must be transferred from the male to female flowers by a pollinator such as a bee in order to make fruit; botanically, a male flower is also called a staminate flower, and it contains a stamen (male part including the pollen-bearing anthers) but no functioning pistil (female part made of stigma, style, and ovary)

Micronutrients

the elements used in small but crucial quantities by plants that are essential to plant growth and health; these include sulfur (S), manganese (Mn), boron (B), copper (Cu), iron (Fe), chlorine (Cl), molybdemum (Mb), and zinc (Zn); also called minor or trace elements

Mulch

a layer of organic or inorganic material placed on the surface of the soil; mulch helps soil retain moisture, suppress weeds, and maintain even soil temperature; mulch also helps keep leaves clean on greens and fruit clean on strawberries by keeping soil from splashing on the plants; mulch materials include grass clippings, shredded or ground bark, pine straw, aged manure, straw, rocks, and plastic sheeting

N

N (nitrogen)

macronutrient that fuels new growth and the element that is used in largest quantities by plants, which is why is it always present in packaged fertilizers

Neem Oil

a horticultural oil used as an organic insecticide and fungicide; made from the fruits and seeds of the neem tree, native to India; doesn’t harm beneficial insects as long as it isn’t sprayed directly on their habitat or food source

O

Open-Pollinated

plants that are naturally pollinated by insects or wind without human intervention; an open-pollinated plant is not an F-1 hybrid; seeds from open-pollinated varieties yield plants and fruit that are the same or similar to the parent; being open-pollinated is one requirement for calling a plant an heirloom; all heirloom varieties are open-pollinated, but not all open-pollinated varieties are heirlooms

Organic

in gardening, organic refers to anything relating to, or derived from living organisms; soil contains organic matter such as decaying plants and living organisms (worms, fungi, microbes); organic is also a labeling term for food and other products that are regulated by the United States Department of Agriculture and other entities to be grown or made using practices approved as organic

Organic Gardening

using gardening techniques and products that promote or do the least disturbance to ecological health, including biodiversity and soil health; organic gardening practices minimize or eliminate the use of synthetic fertilizers and many conventional pesticides, instead relying on natural products and practices thought to promote the best overall environment; GMOs are not allowed in organic gardening

back to top

P

P (phosphorous)

macronutrient that promotes root development, which strengthens plants, and increases blooms; often present in packaged fertilizers

Part Sun (or Part Shade)

plants labeled either part sun or part shade don’t like a long exposure to full sun; because the sun’s intensity varies according to season and geography, observation is the best way to gauge a site’s suitability for your plant’s needs; generally, figure four to six hours of direct sun daily for plants labeled part sun or part shade

Perennial

a plant that lives from one year to the next; often, its leaves will die back to the ground at the end of the season, allowing new growth to emerge in the spring; perennial vegetables include artichokeasparagus, and rhubarb; many herbs are perennial, including bee balmchivesoregano, and mint

pH

the letters “pH” are a technical terms that represent a measure of acidity; in soil, pH determines whether nutrients are available to plants or anchored tightly in soil; most vegetables need a soil pH between 6.2 and 6.8; herbs thrive when pH is near 7.0 (neutral); soil pH may change over time and should be tested every year or two

Pollination

pollination is the transfer of pollen from male to female flowers, which often results in the flower producing a fruit or seed; pollen grains are transferred from the anthers (male flower part that produces pollen) to the stigma (female part that receives pollen) by wind or by pollinators such as bees; types of pollination include self-pollination (male and female parts on the same flower, such as a tomato plant) and cross-pollination (male and female parts on separate flowers), namely on cucumberssquashcantaloupe, and watermelons)

Pollinator

an agent of pollen transfer including insects, such as bees, as well as wind

Potting Mix

a growing medium made from materials such as composted bark, peat moss, perlite, and other ingredients, but not including true soil; potting mix is used in containers instead of garden soil because it provides a good balance of air, moisture, and nutrition for the container growing environment

Potash Fertilizer

a fertilizer that’s high in potassium, which promotes high vegetable yields; all plants need some potassium but some crops, such as artichoke, need more than others and benefit from a high-potassium fertilizer

R

Rain Barrel

a barrel used to catch rainwater, often from a rooftop and gutter, and store the rainwater for use in the garden; rain barrels can be purchased ready-made or fashioned out of 50-gallon plastic barrels, trash cans, whiskey barrels, or other vessels

Rain Gauge

a device that measures how much water a garden gets, either by rainfall or watering; keeping one in the garden can help you to determine if and how much to water plants

Raised Bed

a garden bed built above the soil surface and typically framed with either wood or stone; raised bed kits and building plans are readily available; raised beds filled with potting mix, bagged garden soil, or a mixture of compost and garden soil help eliminate problems with poor native soil

Reseed

also known as self-seeding or self-sowing; plants reseed when they produce mature seed that falls to the ground and germinates to produce new seedlings; examples of plants that frequently reseed include Mexican tarragondillcilantro, and heirloom tomatoes; new crops may sprout in the same growing season or seeds may linger in soil through winter and sprout the following spring

Rotate

to plant crops in a different place each growing season; many experts specify using a 3-year rotation, which means in one spot in the garden, you plant a different crop three years in a row before repeating the same crop in that spot again; this planting practice helps minimize pests and diseases

back to top

S

Scoville Scale

the first lab approach to measure heat in peppers, devised by Wilbur L. Scoville in 1912; in this method, human subjects taste a pepper sample and record the heat level; the samples are then diluted in the lab until heat is no longer detected by the tasters; this dilution is called the Scoville Heat Unit; while the method is still subjective, as it depends on the taster’s palate and sensitivity, it’s the most accepted, scientific measurement of heat in peppers

Semi-Hardy Vegetables

tolerate light frosts (usually 29 to 32 degrees F) late into fall and through winter in mild climates; good for spring and fall gardens; includes cauliflowerlettuceradicchiorutabaga, and Swiss chard

Short-Day Onions

onion varieties that need short days (10 to 12 hours of daylight) to form bulbs; they take approximately 110 days to mature in the South if planted in the fall, and just 75 days in the North where they may be planted in early spring; the earlier you plant short-day onions, the larger they get, but they won’t get very big in the northern states; short-day onion varieties include Georgia Sweet (Yellow Granex), Sweet RedTexas Super Sweet (1015Y), Texas Sweet White

Soaker Hose

a type of hose that applies water directly to soil, typically by sweating or seeping water through its porous surface; frequently made from recycled rubber; work best on a flat surface; good for conserving water

Soil

the earthen ground that serves as a natural growing medium for the growth of plants; soil is made of minerals, air, water, and organic matter; the mineral component of soil is measured by size, including (largest to smallest): sand, silt, and clay

Soil Food Web

a community of organisms that live in the soil; as organisms move through the food chain, energy and nutrients are exchanged; the soil food web features a diversity of creatures, from microscopic bacteria, fungi, and algae, to mites and nematodes, to earthworms, ants, spiders, and plant roots

Split-Resistant

used to described cabbage varieties that resist splitting when they take up a lot of water, especially after a dry period; ‘Early Jersey Wakefield‘ and ‘Stonehead‘ are split-resistant cabbage varieties

Strawberry Jar

a planter with pocketed openings in the sides into which small plants can be inserted for growing; used for growing strawberries as well as flowers and herbs

Support

anything used to hold up a plant, such as a trellis, cage, or stake; support is often recommended for keeping tomato and cucumber plants upright and keeping fruit off the ground

T

Transplant

young seedling plant especially grown in a container instead of starting directly from seed in the ground; the name “trans-plant” comes from the fact that it moves from its container into the ground; transplants give the garden a big head start; Bonnie Plants transplants are grown in greenhouses around the country and are ready for sale at the appropriate planting season

V

Vermiculite

a natural, mica-like mineral that expands when heated; used as a soil conditioner to aerate heavy or sticky soil; included in many nursery mixes used for seed germination and potting to provide a growing medium that holds water but allows good drainage

W

Warm Season Crops

plants that require warm soil and warm air temperatures to grow and produce these plants do not tolerate frost; they thrive in summer; setting out warm-weather crops when nights are cool or soil is cool can cause roots to rot; nights below 50 F can cause warm-season crops to stall, blossoms to drop, leaves to wilt, or fruit to fail to set; examples include basil, tomato, pepper, eggplant, okra, beans, cucumber, and melon

Well-Drained Soil

soil that allows water to pass through it easily; a few minutes after watering or rainfall, soil that is well-drained will show no puddle of water remaining on the soil surface; all vegetables and herbs need soil that has good drainageback to top