A list of terms commonly used in the growing and gardening industries, with basic definitions.
Johnny's Glossary of Growing & Gardening Terms
- Allelopathic : Term used to describe an organism, usually a plant, that has a biological effect, usually suppressive, on another organism through the production of one or more biochemicals that influence the germination, growth, survival, or reproduction of the other species.
- Annual : A plant which completes its life cycle in one growing season.
- Biennial : A plant which lives for two years or seasons, having a life cycle that is two years or seasons in duration. Biennials generally flower and go to seed in the second season, using up the energy they stored during the first season, completing their life cycle.
- Certified Organic : Seeds harvested from, or plant material grown, harvested, stored, and handled under the guidelines required by the USDA's National Organic Program (NOP) and, more specifically, the laws enacted by the Code of Federal Regulations. Most of our organic part numbers have a "G" included with the part number.
- Cotyledon : The botanical term for the embryonic leaf in seed-bearing plants (angiosperms), one or more of which are the primary (first) leaves to emerge from a germinating seed. From the Greek cotyle, "small cup."
- 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 : Small, hard, dry seeds harvested for multiuse purposes, including human consumption, animal consumption, and farm seed applications. Predominantly members of the grass family, but the term applies more broadly to include grain-like products such as buckwheat, quinoa, amaranth.
- 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 : The flowers produced are all female, and will produce fruit.
- Heirloom : Open-pollinated varieties whose seed lines have been maintained and passed down by gardeners and farmers over generations, prized for traits such as appearance, fragrance, and flavor.
- Heritage : Varieties that deserve special recognition for having stood the test of time across the generations because of outstanding flavor, reliability, and wide adaptability. (As with heirlooms their heritage status has arisen not by chance, but unlike heirlooms, they are not necessarily open-pollinated varieties but may be hybrids developed through classical plant breeding methods. Note in some regions the definitions of heritage and hybrid may be interchangeable.) At Johnny's, we call these strains our heritage varieties because of their history and dependability as long-time favorites in the garden and on the farm.
- Hybrid & (F1) Hybrid : A hybrid is the offspring of a cross between two or more genetically distinct parent plant lines, usually of the same species. Hybrid varieties are selected for traits such as improved flavor, disease resistance, and climate adaptability.
An (F1) hybrid refers to first filial or first-generation offspring. Hybrid varieties of vegetables and flowers are typically (F1) hybrids. Seeds from an F1 hybrid will not produce plants with characteristics equivalent to its F1 parent.
- Inoculant : Used to introduce beneficial bacteria to legume seeds prior to planting, to prompt and enhance conversion of atmospheric nitrogen to ammonia nitrogen within nitrogen-fixing nodules on legume plant roots.
- Legumes : A family of plants grown agriculturally for many different purposes, including human consumption, animal consumption, and farm seed applications. Notable for ability to fix atmospheric nitrogen and accumulate it within root nodules via nitrogen-fixing, symbiotic Rhizobia bacteria.
- Natural III Treatment : A biological seed treatment comprised of a proprietary blend of beneficial microorganisms that help protect seeds and developing roots from decay. Made with NOP-compliant materials and approved for use in organic productions. Treatment also facilitates development of a robust root system and hence healthier seedling that can perform in less-than-ideal microbial health.
- Non-MT0 : Indicates that a seed product has not been tested for Lettuce Mosaic Virus. All items not tested have an "N" included with the part number.
- Open-Pollinated (OP) : A non-hybrid variety; one that can reproduce itself in kind, demonstrating relatively stable traits from one generation to the next.
- Parthenocarpic : Plant flowers 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.
- Perennial and Tender Perennial : A perennial is a plant that persists for more than 2 years.
A tender perennial is one which is unable to survive the winter in a given particular growing zone unless given special protection or treatment, but which will, in its native habit, continue to live for more than 2 years. In growing zones where winter temperatures are lethal to the plant, it may be either treated as an annual — grown and enjoyed for a single season only — or alternatively, provided protection or treatment to mimic the conditions of the plant's native habit, to allow it to survive through the winter(s) into the following growing season(s). Examples of treatments to allow a tender perennial to survive include being heavily mulched, covered, and/or wrapped; or being dug up and stored until being sprouted or vegetatively propagated in late winter or early spring (e.g., saving Belgian endive roots for forcing for chicons; saving sweet potatoes and producing slips from the roots; taking cuttings of certain varieties of herbs to grow in containers).
- Phytosanitary Certificate : Documentation which satisfies a requirement by the Agricultural Departments of certain countries and states that the plant material is certified 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 seeds. We recommend that you purchase only enough primed seeds to last one season. All primed products have an "E" included with the part number.
- Plant Variety Protected (PVP) : PVP status indicates that the breeder has the legal "right to exclude others from selling the variety, or offering it for sale, or reproducing it, or importing it, or exporting it, or using it in producing (as distinguished from developing) a hybrid or different variety." The term of protection runs 20 years from the certificate's date of issue, or 25 years in the case of a tree or vine. Unauthorized marketing of PVP seeds is prohibited. To learn more, see the USDA FAQ page on PVP.
- 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 a particular environmental stressor such as cold weather, hot weather, or drought.
- Treated : Seeds that have a coating of fungicide intended to protect the seeds from rotting in the soil before germination. All treated products have a "T" included with the part numbers.
- 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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