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Gardening Glossary

Acid Soil

A soil, compost or liquid which has a pH lower than 7.0


A growing medium that can either be soil, compost or liquid which has a pH lower than 7.0, on a scale of 0.0-14.0

Acidic Soil

A soil, compost or liquid which has a pH lower than 7.0


A measurement of area totalling 43560 square feet. It is also equivalent to 4840 square yards and 4047 square meters. A single acre is about the size of a soccer field


To loosen any type of growth medium (soil, compost etc') to allow for better water and air circulation


The process or method used to loosen any growth medium (soil, compost etc') to allow for better air or water circulation which is vital for plants

Alakaline Soil

A soil, compost or liquid which has a pH higher than 7.0


A growing medium that can either be soil, compost or liquid which has a pH higher than 7.0, on a scale of 0.0-14.0


A plant that completes its entire lifecycle in one season, from seed to flower to seed within a single growing season

Aquatic Plants

Plants that grow in or on the water

Average First Frost Date

The average point in the calendar which indicates when the first frost appears, or that temperatures drop below freezing poing. It is important to mention that this varies every year, and thus rarely accurate to the day. It serves more of a guideline

Average Last Frost Date

The date when historical data shows there will only be a 10 percent chance of any more days below freezing temperatures

Bare root

A plant sold with it's roots exposed. Bare roots have been removed from the soil during plant dormancy and are then placed in materials that retain moisture. Most bare root plants are deciduous type plants or fully dormant during winter.

Bedding Plant

Plants that are usually grown in greenhouses and nurseries and sold in retails store and garden centers and grown in a garden or flower bed


A plant that completes its entire lifecycle in two years, growing in the first year, reproducing and dying the second year


Refers to vegetables that prematurely go to flower and produce seed rather than producing the food crop. Many times caused by late planting and warm temperatures


An underground food storage organ formed from the plant stem and leaves. providing food for plant during dormancy

Cold Frame

A structure covered with either glass or plastic used to protect plants from cold temperatures for the purpose of extending a plants' growing season

Companion Planting

A seed or planting methodology that places certain plants either close to or away from each other depending on the benefits and drawbacks of each plant


Organic soil amendment created by decomposition of organic matter


The part of the seed that emerges from the testa, or hard covering, during germination, usually becoming the embryonic first leaves of a seedling. Species with one cotyledon are called monocotyledonous or monocots. Plants with two embryonic leaves are called dicotyledonous or dicots

Cover Crop

Plants or vegetation planted in the absence of normal crop to provide soil cover when soil would otherwise be bare

Crop Rotation

Intentional growing of different plants in the same plot of land during consecutive growing seasons for the purpose of rejuvinating soil health


The point at or just below the soil where the stem and root of the plant join


A plant variety selected and cultivated by selective breeding. Cultivars originate from intentional and non-intentional mutations on plants or even a hybrid of two plants


A method of propogation using a cut section from either stems, roots, buds or leaves to develop a new plant

Damping Off

A soil borne, or over-watering-related fungus attack that causes seedlings to rot off at soil level. One way to prevent this is to not over-water, and use sterilized seed starting mixes

Dead Heading

The process of removing or snipping off spent flowers or flowerheads to keep the plants from setting seed and prolong bloom


An adjective used to refer to trees or shrubs sheddling leaves annually or at maturity


Usually refers to short "bushy" type tomatoes that grow to compact height that grow to about 2-3 feet tall

Direct Seed

The process of sowing seeds directly into the soil outside in the ground or prepared garden bed. Keep in mind that timing is everything with direct sowing because soil temperature is a crucial factor for when to sow seeds outdoors

Direct Sow

This is when you sow your seeds directly into the soil outside in the ground or prepared garden bed. Keep in mind that timing is everything with direct sowing because soil temperature is a crucial factor for when to sow seeds outdoors


The cycle in a plants' life when plant growth slows down or stops completely and metabolic activity ceases. Dormancy is controlled both by genetic and environmental factors


Producing fruit throughout the growing season


Any material, both organic or synthetic, applied to the soil or other growth medium, used to supply nutrients that are essential to plant growth


Water vapor in the air that freezes when temperatures drop below freezing point and condensed as ice on the ground or a surface


Germination is the process by which a plant grows from a seed. It is the first stage of the plant growing process and it begins when the seed is sown and ends when the radicale emerges out of the seed


Any number of techniques which unite a section of a stem with the root stock of a different plant for the purpose of reproduction,repairing injured tree or producing new culitvars

Growth medium

any type of solid or a liquid designed to support the growth of a seed or a plant

Hardening Off

The process of gradually acclimatizing plants grown in protective environments (indoors, greenhouses, etc') to different temperatures in outdoor growing conditions


The textbook definition of heirloom is "a valuable object that has belonged to a family for several generations"

Heirloom Seed

A seed from a plant that has been passed from one generation to another, carefully grown and saved because it is considered valuable


Organic substance resulting from the breakdown of plant material such as decayed plant or animal matter in a process called humification


The offspring of two plants

Hybrid F1

First generation offspring derived from breeding two distinct pure-bred lines


Method of growing plants without soil. It could mean growing plants on sand or gravel, but most commonly used to describe plants grown by placing roots in liquid nutrient solutions


Usually refers to taller tomato plants, also called vine tomatoes, growing to about 6 feet tall


Type of soil containing 20% clay, 40% sand and 40% silt


Organic matter derived from animal feces and used in agriculture

Mature Plant

Plant that has the ability to reproduce, bearing fruit or flower

Mature Seedling

A young plant from cotyledon expansion to growth of 3-4 true leaves


Any loose and organic (straws, leaves, compost, wood chips etc') material placed over the soil to hold in moisture and control weeds

Open Pollinated

An open-pollinated plant variety is one where pollination is carried out by wind, insects, or other natural mechanisms. Seed produced and saved from an open-pollinated variety will remain true-to-type year after year providing that it does not cross-pollinate with another variety of the same species


Any material derived from living organisms

Organic Gardening

Gardening utilizing only materials derived from living organisms such as compost and manure

Peat Moss

Decomposed remains of various mosses used as soil amendment or ingredient in potting soil to increase pH acidity in the soil


A plant that persists for many growing seasons. These plants may die, but will grow back again the following season


A non organic soil additive made out of volcanic glass used to promote moisture retention while allowing good drainage and aerate the soil


A numeric scale from 1 to 14 to measure the acidity or basicity of a solution that contains water. An abbreviation for "power of hydrogen" and the H is capitalized representing the element


Plug plants are small sized, but mature seedlings, grown in trays to be commercially sold and ready to be tranplanted in a garden or a container. Plugs are more expensive than seeds but they shorten the time to harvest


The first step in the process of plant sexual reproduction, involving the transfer of pollen grains from the male anther of a flower to the female stigma of the same flower or of another flower

Precision Gardening

Precision gardening is a wide range of gardening practices that make garden crop production and garden maintenance more efficient. The idea behind precision gardening is that gardeners work smarter, and not harder, to increase crop yields in their garden


The process of creating new plants, in both asexual and sexual methods. Asexual propogation refers to the vegetative parts of the plant such as the stem, the roots or the leaves. The major methods of asexual propagation are cuttings, layering, division, and grafting. Sexual propogation involves the floral parts of the plant


An early stage plant raised from seed, from first seed emergence to cotyledon expansion (stage 2)


Sidedressing is the application of fertilizers at a desired distance along the side of a row of plants or in a circle around individual plants with to give extra nutrients to vegetable crops to reach maximum growing potential


Cuttings taken from a mature Sweet Potato plant

Soil Amendment

The addition of organic and non-organic materials to improve the health of the soil and plant growth

Soil erosion

A form of soil degrardation caused by natural forces such as wind and water

Soil pH

Soil pH is a measurement of the acidity or alkalinity of a soil. On the pH scale from 1 to 14, 7.0 is neutral. Below 7.0 is acidic, and above 7.0 is basic or alkaline A pH range of 6.8 to 7.2 is termed neutral.

Soil Test

Analysis of a soil sample to determine soil "health, nutrient content, composition and pH level


To remove excess seedlings, buds flowers or shoots to allow more room for remaining plants to grow and improve the quality of those remaining


Applying fertilizers or some kind of soil amendment after seeding, transplanting or once the crop has been established


The process of digging up a plant and moving it to another location, or the moving of the plant from one growth medium to another


An elarged underground stem of certain seed plants used as storage vessels to store nutrients and enable reproduction. Plants form tubers on both the root and the stem. The potato is an example of a common stem tuber. Sweet potato is an example of a tuberous root


A mineral, that when heated forms a valuable, odorless, non-toxic and not susceptible to rot soil additive. One difference between vermiculite and perlite is that that it retains more water, acting like a sponge


Artificial and intentional exposure of a seed (or plant) to low temperatures to trigger seed development or hasten flowering

Young Plant

Growth of 3-4 true leaves to full plant, ready for transplant