Glossary

Amendment

A material or product added to soil to improve its ability to support plant life.

Bolting

Premature production of flowers and seeds, especially as a result of seasonally short or long days, becoming root bound, heat, cold, or stress.

Certified Organic

Certified organic seeds must meet the same requirements as organic food; the seeds must be grown in an approved manner and be certified to be sold as organic. The land on which the seeds are produced cannot have been treated with prohibited substances for three years prior to harvest.

cHeirloom

An heirloom is an open-pollinated variety that has been in cultivation for decades – usually at least 50 years. The staying power of heirloom varieties often results from exceptional characteristics, such as flavor or vigor, and often predate the advent of large-scale chemically-dependent agriculture, making them ideal for small-scale organic gardening.

Chicken Manure Tea

A mixture of chicken manure and water. GardenZeus recommends 1 cup aged chicken manure or half-a-cup fresh manure to 4 gallons of water applied one or twice per month to add nutrients to soil, especially nitrogen.

Climacteric

Fruits that ripen with release of ethylene, such as apples, apricots, and melons; or the stage of fruit ripening that involves increased release of ethylene gas and cells metabolizing stored sugars.

Cool-Season Crop

Crops that thrive in cooler weather under 75° F. Includes many vegetables of which part of the plant is eaten, such as lettuce, broccoli, and onion.

Cruciferous

Vegetables in the Brassica family, also known as cole crops, including broccoli, bok choy, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collards, kale, and others.

Determinate

Determinate tomatoes often produce more-compact plants than indeterminate varieties, that grow until they flower and then set a single heavy crop. They are generally a bit easier to grow successfully to a reasonable harvest and often requiring less-elaborate staking. Determinate varieties are often favored by cooks who want to make one large batch of sauce for catsup or sauce for preserving, and also by commercial farmers and anyone wanting a large harvest of tomatoes all at once.

Genetically modified (GM or GMO)

Genetically modified seeds are produced using high-tech “recombinant” methods that insert genes from one plant, or genes from a bacterium or other microorganism, an animal, or even a synthetically created gene, into genes of an existing plant.  GMO seeds are generally not sold directly to home gardeners, and most seed vendors for home gardeners have pledged to sell only non-GMO seeds.

Half-Inch Hardware Cloth

Zinc-galvanized metal wire mesh used for animal enclosures and pens, plant support and pest exclusion, inexpensive rodent-proof compost enclosures, course soil sifters, other strainers and sieves, and many other home and garden applications. When used to line raised beds or buried as a cage around new fruit-tree plantings, it provides a rust-resistant solution for gopher exclusion that normally lasts in dry California climates for at least 2 years. Inevitable degredation of hardware cloth may increase zinc and other metals in soils, which is generally undesirable, so this drawback should be weighed against benefits.

Harden Off

Hardening off seedlings is the process of progressively exposing seedlings grown indoors or in protected environments to  real-world environmental conditions such as direct sunlight, wind, temperature fluctuations and extremes, and low humidity, generally over a 6-to-14-day period. The goal is to avoid subjecting plants to shock or extreme stress by exposing them to sudden environmental changes or harsh conditions. Exact method of hardening off varies by the characteristics, vulnerabilities, and natural resilience of a given plant species. One traditional way of hardening off vegetable seedlings is to expose them to direct sunlight for 1 hour the first day, 2 hours the second day, and so on for about 7 to 10 days before transplanting. With many seedlings, a simpler approach of hardening off for a couple of hours the first 2 or 3 days, then increasing by a couple of hours every 2 to 3 days is less of a hassle for the gardener. While hardening off seedlings, water sufficiently to prevent any wilting, and avoid fertilizing.

Hardening Off

Hardening off seedlings is the process of progressively exposing seedlings grown indoors or in protected environments to  real-world environmental conditions such as direct sunlight, wind, temperature fluctuations and extremes, and low humidity, generally over a 6-to-14-day period. The goal is to avoid subjecting plants to shock or extreme stress by exposing them to sudden environmental changes or harsh conditions. Exact method of hardening off varies by the characteristics, vulnerabilities, and natural resilience of a given plant species. One traditional way of hardening off vegetable seedlings is to expose them to direct sunlight for 1 hour the first day, 2 hours the second day, and so on for about 7 to 10 days before transplanting. With many seedlings, a simpler approach of hardening off for a couple of hours the first 2 or 3 days, then increasing by a couple of hours every 2 to 3 days is less of a hassle for the gardener. While hardening off seedlings, water sufficiently to prevent any wilting, and avoid fertilizing.

Hybrid (F1) or (F2)

A hybrid is the offspring of two different varieties of the same species of plant, or of closely related species of plant, and do not reproduce true-to-type. “F1” means that a single generation or one reproductive cycle with 2 different parents was needed to produce the hybrid seeds. “F2” hybrids required a second generation in which the F1 hybrid was again crossed with another strain.

Indeterminate

Indeterminate tomato varieties are those that continue growing after flowering, and that set fruits steadily over a long period of time rather than in one large crop. They tend to produce longer vines and sprawling plants, which may be unattractive or difficult to manage for some gardeners, and often need stronger or more elaborate staking. Most of the famous heirloom varieties are indeterminate. It can be more difficult to obtain good yields, especially under challenging soil and environmental conditions, with indeterminate varieties, but they can also produce indefinitely, generally with small and sporadic yields after the first season. Indeterminate varieties are often favored by home gardeners for cooking and fresh eating, and anyone who wants staggered or slow-but-steady harvests of tomatoes.

Inorganic Mulch

Mulch compose of materials that were never alive, such as gravel, flat stones, tumbled glass, landscape fabric, or plastic sheeting.

Leggy

Unusually long, weak, and/or spindly growth of plant stems, often with sparse foliage and abnormally longer space between nodes, generally as a result of shade or insufficient sunlight.

Manure

Animal excrement used as fertilizer or to improve soil’s ability to sustain plants.

Mulch

Material spread around plants at the soil surface to retain moisture, inhibit weeds, feed soil life, add soil nutrients, and moderate soil temperature.

Open-pollinated (OP)

Open-pollinated seeds reproduce true-to-type. As long as plants do not cross-pollinate with other varieties, seeds in each new generation will produce plants, vegetables, or flowers that are the same or similar to the parent, making them ideal for seed saving.

Organic Mulch

Mulch composed of material that was once alive such as leaves, straw, pine needles, lawn clippings, plant litter, or wood chips.

Parthenocarpic

Producing fruit without pollination.

Pelleted seeds

Pelleted seeds are coated with inert materials, usually clay, which soften or dissolve when moistened. The main purpose for this is to increase seed size and provide uniformity so that tiny individual seeds are easier to handle and plant.

Polyembryonic

Containing more than one baby plant or embryo, as when a single seed can produce more than one seedling.

Soil Amendment

A material or product added to soil to improve its ability to support plant life.

Treated seeds

Treated seeds have had chemical(s), usually fungicides or bactericides, applied to them before they are packaged. The chemical treatments may increase germination rate or minimize spread of disease in seedlings, among other purposes.

Warm-Season Crop

A crop that perform best in warm weather above 75° F. Includes many vegetables of which the fruit is eaten, such as tomato, melon, and corn.

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