It can be daunting for experienced gardeners and garden newcomers alike when it comes to terminology. A brief overview of the most common terms are available to help through the maze of new and old terms alike.
Acidic: A soil, compost, or liquid with a pH between 0 and 7.0 (on a scale of 0.0-14.0). Often referred to as “sour” soil by gardeners.
Aeration: Any method of loosening soil or compost to allow air to circulate.
Aerobic: Describes organisms living or occurring only when oxygen is present.
Alkaline: A soil with a pH between 7.0 and 14 (on a scale of 0.0-14.0). Often referred to as “sweet” soil by gardeners.
Anaerobic: Describes organisms living or occurring where there is no oxygen.
Annual: A plant that blooms, produces seed, and dies in one year.
Beneficial Insect: An insect that benefits your garden by eating or laying its eggs in other insects, thereby controlling their population.
Biennial: A plant that completes its full life-cycle in two growing seasons. It produces leaves in the first and flowers in the second.
Biodegradable: Able to decompose or break down through natural bacterial or fungal action. Substances made of organic matter are biodegradable.
Biological Pest Control: Using living organisms such as beneficial insects or parasites to destroy garden pests.
Bolt: A term used to describe a plant that has gone to seed prematurely.
Bone Meal: Finely ground fertilizer composed of white or light gray bone that adds phosphorus to the soil.
Calcitic Limestone: A common material used for “liming” soil that has an acid level that is too high. This type is most commonly used and contains calcium carbonate.
Chelation: The formation of bonds between organic compounds and metals, some of which are insoluble, as in humus. Soluble chelates are used in fertilizers to help keep nutrient metals, such as iron, mobile in the soil, and thus available to plants rather than locked up in insoluble mineral salts.
Chlorosis: A yellowing or blanching of the leaves due to lack of chlorophyll, nutrient deficiencies, or disease.
Cold Frame: An unheated structure usually made of wood and covered with glass or plastic. Cold frames are used to protect plants from frost and are helpful season extenders.
Companion Planting: The sowing of seeds in the garden in such a way that plants help each other grow instead of competing against each other.
Compost: Completely decayed organic matter used for conditioning soil. It is dark, odorless, and rich in nutrients.
Cover Crop: Vegetation grown to protect and build the soil during an interval when the area would otherwise lie fallow.
Crop Rotation: The planting of a specific crop in a site different from the previous year.
Cutting: A vegetative method of plant propagation whereby a piece of a plant leaf, stem, root, or bud is cut from a parent plant. It is then inserted into a growing medium to form roots, thus developing a new plant.