Landscaping and gardening bring with it a distinct vocabulary. Words like soil, irrigation, beneficials, and pollination begin to creep into your language. To help you become familiar with the various terms, definitions are regularly provided here, or just search for “Vocab” posts.
beneficials. organisms (such as ladybugs, lacewings, and bacteria) that feed on or parasitize pests of crops, gardens, and turf.
bolting. when a plant produces flowers or seeds prematurely instead of a crop; usually the result of excessive heat and sun exposure.
companion planting. the close planting of different plants that enhance each other’s growth or protect each other from pests.
compost. a mixture that consists largely of decayed organic matter and is used for fertilizing and conditioning land.
cover crop. a crop grown for the protection and enrichment of the soil.
cultivar. The word ‘cultivar’ is a contraction of the words ‘cultivated variety’. It refers to plants within a species that are bred for distinct characteristics. A cultivar will behave uniformly and predictably when grown in an environment to which it is adapted. Also known as variety or release.
cultivation. the planting, tending, improving, or harvesting of crops or plants; and the preparation of ground to promote their growth.
drought. a prolonged period of abnormally low rainfall; a shortage of water resulting from this.
fruit set. the transition of a quiescent ovary to a rapidly growing young fruit, which is an important process in the sexual reproduction of flowering plants.
gray water. household wastewater (as from a sink or bath) that does not contain serious contaminants.
grow. to increase in size by a natural process; expand; gain; develop and reach maturity; thrive; become attached by or as if by the process of growth; come into existence from a source – spring up; and come to be by a gradual process or by degrees; to become.
harden off. to gradually acclimatize a plant to a more harsh environment. A seedling must be hardened-off before planting outdoors.
hardpan. a cemented or compacted and often clayey layer in the soil that is impenetrable by roots
irrigation. the watering of land by artificial means to foster plant growth.
layering. (a) the action of arranging something in layers – both vertical and horizontal within the landscape; (b) the method or activity of propagating a plant by bending a stem to the ground and covering the tip with soil so that roots and new shoots may develop.
mulch. (a) a material (such as decaying leaves, bark, or compost) spread around or over a plant to enrich or insulate the soil; (b) an application of mulch, i.e., ”regular mulches keep down annual weeds”; to treat or cover with mulch.
organic. grown or made without the use of artificial chemicals, chemically formulated fertilizers, growth stimulants, antibiotics, or pesticides: relating to, or obtained from living things.
perennial vegetables. parts of plants that are prepared and eaten like a vegetable, and that are also perennial, in other words, the plants live for more than two years.
permaculture. an agricultural system or method that seeks to integrate human activity with natural surroundings so as to create highly efficient self-sustaining ecosystems.
pollinator. an insect or bird that carries pollen from one flower to another.
polyculture. (a) the raising at the same time and place of more than one species of plant; or (b) a place where this is done.
soil. (a) firm land; earth (b) the upper layer of earth that may be dug or plowed and in which plants grow (c) a medium in which something takes hold and develops.
topsoil. surface soil usually including the organic layer in which plants have most of their roots and which the farmer turns over in plowing.
water. a colorless, transparent, odorless, tasteless liquid that forms the seas, lakes, rivers, and rain and is the basis of the fluids of living organisms.