Gardening Terms 101

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Acid soil: Soil with a pH below 7.0 - Most fruits and vegetables grow best in a soil pH of 5.2-7.1.

Aeration: Free movement of air through the root zone; this is prevented in compacted and waterlogged soils.

Allelopathic: Toxicity from a plant that inhibits the growth of other plants.

Alkaline soil: Soil with a pH above 7.0

Amending soil: To improve the soil usually by adding organic matter.

Annuals: Plants that live one year or less.

Axils: The angle or upper side where the leaf is attached to the stem.

Biennial: Plants whose growth span extends over two growing seasons, germinating and growing the first year and flowering and producing seeds the following year.

Blanching: The process of blocking out light around certain plants (such as celery and cauliflower) to improve quality and whiten stems or heads.

Brassica: Cold hardy plants such as broccoli, kale, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts 

Broadcast: Scattering seed or fertilizer rather than placing it in rows.

Chlorosis: Lack of green color in leaves, caused by nutritional deficiencies, environment or disease.

Companion planting: Growing two or more plants together in a given area to improve each other's quality or to maximize the use of garden space with plants that have different lengths of maturation.

Compost: Decayed organic matter.

Cool weather crops: Plants that can tolerate cooler temperatures and light frost.

Corm: Enlarged, fleshy base of a stem, bulb-like but not solid, in which food accumulates.

Cucurbit: Plants in the gourd family such as cucumbers, squash, pumpkins or melons

Damping off: A condition in seedlings caused by a fungus that attacks at the soil level, causing them to rot, wilt and die. This usually happens under moist still-air conditions.

Drip irrigation: A method of watering plants so that only the soil in the plants' immediate vicinity is moistened, usually by use of a plastic tube at a low flow rate.

Everbearing: Plants such as strawberries, which bloom intermittently, producing fruit throughout the entire growing season.

Foundation Plantings: Basic structure of a plant bed that is permanent such as bushes and evergreens.

Friable: A term for soil that breaks or crumbles easily when handled.

Green manure: A crop grown primarily to add nutrients to the soil when plowed under, e.g., vetch, clover, or grasses.

Hardening off: The process of acclimating plants to outdoor conditions by gradually lowering temperature and conditioning plants to sun and wind before transplanting outdoors.

Hardy plants: Plants that are adapted to winter temperatures or other climatic conditions of a certain area.

Heaving: A process of alternating freezing and thawing that causes a plant to partially come out of the ground.

Herbaceous plants: Perennial, non-woody plants that die back to the ground each winter but whose roots live and produce new growth the next spring, such as asparagus, rhubarb, hosta, or peony.

Humus: Decomposed organic matter used as a soil conditioner.

Leaching: Loss of nutrients caused by the draining of water through the soil.

Leggy: Weak-stemmed, spindly plants caused by too much heat, shade, fertilizer or crowding.

Mites: Extremely small sucking insects which infest various plants.

Mulch: Organic material placed on the soil surface around plants to conserve moisture, prevent crusting, reduce soil erosion, control weeds and improve soil structure.

Nematodes: Microscopic, worm-like animals that attack roots or stems, causing stunted or unhealthy growth, not to be confused with beneficial nematodes.

NPK: Nitrogen, phosphate, potassium - symbols for the three primary nutrients needed by plants.

Node: Region of a plant stem, which normally produces leaves and buds.

Perennials: Plants that normally live more than two years.

Perlite: A mineral particle used as a soil additive to lighten up and introduce air pockets into the soil.

pH: Chemical symbol used to give the relative acidity or alkalinity of soil.

Pinching: Removing terminal buds or growth to stimulate branching.

Rhizome: Horizontal underground stem distinguished from a root by the presence of nodes and buds.

Rust: Plant disease caused by a fungus and characterized by a round red or yellow lesion.

Scarification: Nicking or chipping a seed to aid in germination.

Stratification: An artificial process of simulating cold temperatures to aid a seed to germinate.

Sunscald: Cracking or splitting of tree trunks and large branches caused by the sun warming them during the winter.  Also damage caused by the sun to some vegetables such as peppers.

Tamping: Lightly firming soil over seeds or around newly set transplants.

Topiary: The art of sculpting living plants into ornamental shapes.

Tuber: Thickened or swollen underground branch or stolon with numerous buds or eyes; thickening occurs because of the accumulation of reserved food, as in potatoes.

Vermiculite: A mineral particle used as a soil additive to lighten up and introduce air pockets into the soil.  It also aids in water retention.

 

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