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Glossary of Growing Terms

Glossary of


A list of terms commonly used in the growing and gardening industries, with basic definitions.

Johnny's Glossary of Growing & Gardening Terms
  • Certified Organic: Seeds harvested from plants that are grown organically; i.e., without synthetic fertilizer and pesticides, adhering to specific certification guidelines. Most of our organic part numbers have a "G" included with the part number.
  • Cover Crop: A crop grown to "cover" the soil and prevent erosion. These crops are grown after the primary crop is harvested. Fast-growing annuals are ideal choices.
  • (F1) hybrid: (F1) refers to "first filial" or first generation offspring. Hybrid varieties of vegetables and flowers are typically (F1) hybrids.
  • Grains: Grown for flour production and grain products like rolled oats and buckwheat.
  • Green Manure: Replenishes organic matter. Nutrients are released into the topsoil as the green manure decomposes. Green manures are often a mix of two or more types of seed.
  • Gynoecious: Flowers are all female and will produce fruit.
  • Heirloom: An old variety that owes its present availability to the seed-saving efforts of amateurs.
  • Hybrid: The offspring of a cross between two or more varieties, usually of the same species.
  • Inoculation: The introduction of beneficial bacteria to legumes to ensure the formation of high-nitrogen nodules on their roots.
  • Legumes: Plants that accumulate nitrogen through Rhizobia bacteria that live in their roots.
  • Natural III Treatment: Natural III is a biological seed treatment with a proprietary blend of beneficial microorganisms that help protect seeds and developing roots from fungal decay. This treatment has been approved for use in organic productions by Monterey County Certified Organic in California. Seeds treated with Natural III have improved emergence over untreated seeds in stressful environmental conditions, or in soils with less than ideal microbial health.
  • Non-MT0: Indicates a product has not been tested for Lettuce Mosaic Virus. All items not tested have an "N" included with the part number.
  • Open-pollinated: A non-hybrid variety; one that can reproduce itself in kind.
  • Parthenocarpic: Plants are able to set fruit without pollination.
  • Pelleting: Improves the shape, size, and uniformity of raw seeds for more accurate sowing by hand and machine. The pellets are made of clay-based, inert materials which don't harm the seeds or soil. As the pellets absorb moisture they dissolve, allowing immediate access to oxygen for fast, uniform seedling emergence. All pelleted products have a "P" included with the part number.
  • Phytosanitary Certificate: Certification is required by the Agricultural Departments of certain countries and states that plant material is free of pests. There is a charge for this service.
  • Priming: A process whereby the temperature range and speed of germination are expanded, as well as additional priming to break light dormancy when needed. Many lettuce seeds, for example, are primed to enhance germination. The priming process, however, decreases the storage life of the seed. We recommend that you purchase only enough primed seed to last one season. All primed products have an "E" included with the part number.
  • PVP Plant Variety Protected: Unauthorized marketing of seeds is prohibited.
  • Resistant/resistance: Implies that a variety has a certain amount of resistance when exposed to a disease-causing pathogen such as a fungus, bacteria, or virus. The extent of resistance is displayed as either high (HR) or intermediate (IR).
  • Smother Crop: Used in new ground or in weed-infested soil to outcompete the weeds. Buckwheat is a common smother crop.
  • Tolerant/tolerance: Implies that a variety will perform relatively well when exposed to environmental stresses such as cold weather, hot weather, or drought.
  • Treated: Seed that has a coating of fungicide intended to protect the seed from rotting in the soil before germination. All treated products have a "T" included with the part number.
  • Underseeding: The practice of using green manures as "living mulch." Corn is often underseeded with clover once the corn reaches 2 feet in height. Clover out-competes the weeds and provides a green manure after the corn is harvested.
  • Untreated: Seeds that have no chemical treatments. All seeds offered by Johnny's are untreated unless otherwise noted.
  • Variety: A genetically similar population of plants, distinct in one or more traits from other populations.

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