Package of Johnny's Selected Seeds
Package of Johnny's Selected Seeds

Johnny's Glossary of Growing and Gardening Terms

We are dedicated to helping you understand our growing lingo. Below are a list of terms used in the growing and gardening industry. We hope you find them useful.

Certified Organic: Seeds harvested from plants that are grown organically; i.e., without synthetic fertilizer and pesticides. Most of our organic part numbers have a “G” included with the part number. Look for the OG symbol.

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 supply nitrogen through Rhizobia bacteria that live on their roots.

Natural II Treatment: Natural II is an innovative, organic seed enhancement made with NOP-compliant materials and approved for use in organic operations. It is applied to seed as a film coating and delivers a beneficial nutrient package directly to the seed; thereby facilitating the development of a robust root system and creating a healthy plant that can perform better in less-than-ideal conditions. In our trials, it has performed almost as well as chemical fungicide treatments for planting in cold, wet soils.

Non-MT0: Indicates a product has not been tested for Lettuce Mosaic Virus. All items not tested will 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 will have a “P” included with the part number.

Phytosanitary Certificate: Certification is required by the Agricultural Departments of certain states, and certifies that the plants are free of pests. There is a change of $15 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.

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.

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: Seeds that have a coating of fungicides and/or insecticides intended to protect the seeds from rotting or insect damage in the soil before germination. All treated products will 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’. 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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Other resources


Catalog Extras: A series of articles written by Lynn Byczynski on growing topics broken down by category (vegetables, fruit, herbs, flowers, cover crops, and tools).
Visit our Catalog Extras website.



Grower's Library: Helpful Johnny's documents in print-friendly .pdf. The Grower's Library contains product comparison charts, parts lists, growing tips, tool manuals, instruction sheets, and other useful information.
Visit the Grower's Library.

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