Annual: A plant that completes its growing cycle in one season. It grows and does not come back the following season.
Arbor: A small-scale garden shelter usually made of wood or lattice with plants climbing all over it.
Biennial: A plant that requires two growing seasons to complete its life cycle. Leaves and stems grow the first season with the flowers and seeds forming the second year.
Companion planting: Plants that have an influence on each other, either beneficial or harmful.
Compost heap: A compost heap is made up of vegetable scraps and plant discards. When you pile all of this together it will begin to rot over time, making a great fertilizer to put back into your garden.
Cool crops: Vegetables that grow and produce better in cooler weather, such as peas, lettuce, spinach, and cabbage.
Crop rotation: Growing annual vegetable plants in a different location in the garden each year. This helps to control insects, improves soil fertility, and helps to prevent soil erosion.
Cultivate: To prepare soil for planting by plowing, digging, and fertilizing or it can mean you cultivate the earth by digging around the root of a plant.
Drainage: The running off of water gradually from the earth where your plants are growing. Good drainage ensures your plants get the moisture they need but the moisture does not collect, leaving the roots waterlogged.
Dwarf rootstock: A rootstock of diminished vigor, which produces a smaller mature plant or tree.
Espalier: A lattice made of wood or wire on which to train fruit trees by selecting lateral branches to grow horizontally on each side of a main stem.
Fertilizer: Extra nourishment for your plants. Air, water, and nutrients are essential for plant growth. Sometimes the soil does not have enough nutrients so additional nourishment needs to be added, usually in the form or organic matter or man-made fertilizer.
Fertilizer tea: A mix of organic materials intended to bolster the health of growing vegetable plants.
Gazebo: A garden pavilion, usually designed to offer a view, shelter, or a place to sit.
Germinate: To begin to grow or sprout a plant from a seed.
Green manure: Crops such as legumes or grasses grown in the fall to be dug under in the spring. Used to increase the organic matter in garden soil, which will improve the soil structure.
Humus: Partially or totally decayed vegetable matter, which is food for plants and helps soil retain moisture.
Interplanting: Planting to get maximum production from your garden or container. This is done by planting vegetables that mature early in the season alongside plants that mature later in the season.
Leggy: Weak-stemmed and spindly vegetable seedlings. This is usually caused by too much heat, too much shade, crowding, or over fertilization.
Lime: A compound containing calcium and magnesium. It is applied to garden soil to reduce acidity.
Loam: Soil that consists of a mixture of sand, silt, and clay. It is an ideal garden soil for growing vegetable plants.
Manure: Animal waste used as a soil amendment and fertilizer. You want to use aged manures in order not to harm the plants.
Microclimate: A climate particular to a specific situation, which differs from the overall climate of an area, against a wall or hedge as an example.
Microorganism: A microscopic animal or plant that may cause disease or may have a beneficial effect when a plant is decomposing.
Mulch: A protective covering of rotted organic matter such as straw, leaves, peat moss, wood chips, and grass clippings used to keep the weeds from growing as well as protecting plant roots.
Nematodes: A variety of parasitic worms that live in the soil.
Organic matter: A portion of the soil that is a result of decomposition of plant and animal residue. It helps maintain good soil structure and promotes microorganisms in the soil.
Peat Moss: A kind of moss that grows in very wet places. It is gathered, processed, and then sold to be used in mulching, as plant food, or mixed into soil.
Perennial: A plant that lives for more than two years.
pH: A chemical symbol used to identify the level of acidity and alkalinity in soil. The scale ranges from 0 to 14, with 7.0 being neutral. Readings of less than 7.0 indicate acidic soil and readings of above 7.0 indicate alkaline soil.
Pergola: A walk of pillars and cross members with plants trained to grow up over it.
Plant residue: Plant parts such as leaves, stem, and roots that remain after a vegetable has been harvested. These parts can be used to make compost.
Potager: A French term for a small vegetable garden.
Propagate: To cause plants to increase, spread, and multiply. Bees, insects, and the wind carry pollen from flower to flower to fertilize plants.
Prune: To cut off branches or leaves to make room for healthy new growth on trees and plants.
Ripe: The stage of maturity at which the fruit or vegetable is ready to be harvested and eaten.
Rootstock: Root or plant on which can be grafted certain species that are difficult to propagate from their own roots.
Seedling: A very young vegetable plant.
Self-fertile: Describes a plant whose ovule is fertilized by its own pollen and grows into viable seed.
Self-seeding: Describes a plant, usually an annual, that will regenerate from year to year by dispersing its seeds around an area.
Self-sterile: Describes a plant whose ovules require pollen from another plant (the pollinator) in order to grow viable seed.
Short-season vegetable: These are vegetables that are ready for harvesting one or two months following planting.
Silt: Soil particles that are between the size of sand and clay.
Slow-release fertilizer: A substance that releases the essential nutrients for the growth of a plant over a long period of time.
Soil: This is the upper layer of the earth's surface. It is composed of organic matter, minerals, and microorganisms, all making it capable of supporting plant life.
Sow: To scatter seed over the ground you have prepared for planting.
Stake: To tie plants to a sturdy stick for support to grow upright.
Tender: Describes plants likely to be damaged by low temperatures.
Thin out: As plants grow you must take some of them out of the ground to leave room for others to have enough space to grow bigger.
Transplant: To move young plants from one place to another. You take a plant from a pot and put it into the ground.
Tying in: The action of securing climbers to a support, a wall, trellis, or a stake.
Variety: Closely related vegetable plants forming a subdivision of a species that have similar characteristics.