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Annual: A plant’s life cycle (germinate, grow, flower, seed) happens in one growing year

Aphids: Soft-bodied and small, sap-sucking insects of many colours

Bed: An area for vegetables, fruits and flowers – may or may not be raised

Biennial: A plant’s life cycle (germinate, grow, flower, seed) happens over two years

Blanch: Exclude light from leaves to make them paler and sweeter

Bolter: A plant that flowers before its normal time, with no or small harvest

Chicon: The forced head of chicory, also called ‘endive’

Chit: Encourage growth of shoots from a tuber, such as sprouts from potatoes, before planting

Compost: Decomposed organic matter, usually dark and crumbly

Container: Holds growing medium, mostly compost – of variable size, has drainage hole

Cotyledon: First two leaves, usually long and thin – similar within each plant family

Dibber: A wooden, rounded stick used to make holes for planting – a long one is easiest

Digging: Soil broken by a spade or fork to approx. 25 cm / 10 in depth, with compost incorporated

Drill: A channel 2–3 cm / 1 in deep for sowing seeds – made by a rake, hoe or finger

Edging: Maintaining the area around any plot so that weeds and bushes don’t invade

Family: Plants share growth pattern, flower characteristics, pests and diseases

Fertility: The combination of active soil life, structure, moisture and nutrients

Firm: A natural condition of soil, neither compacted nor loose

First true leaf: Third leaf after the two cotyledons – distinctive to each plant, and family

Fleece: Light polypropylene cover – admits light and rain, plus retains warmth

Forcing: Growth in darkness, either of plants in the ground, or from harvested roots

Forking: Soil loosened and broken by a fork or broadfork, to the depth of the prongs

Germination: I define this as the first sighting of leaf, one or both cotyledons

Head: A tight cluster of central leaves, sweeter and crisper then outer leaves

Heart: Another term for a head – the words are interchangeable

Humus: Organic matter such as mature compost, with a stable and aerated structure

Interplant: Transplants set between each other to double the use of space for a time

Intersow: Seeds sown between existing plants, as a form of relay cropping

Leaf mould: Old leaves in a heap, usually from trees – converts to compost in two years

Manure: Animal poo with variable amounts of bedding, decomposed for garden use

Mesh: Close-knit fabric of nylon – mainly for insect protection, also against wind

Microbes: Invisible soil organisms such as bacteria, fungi and protozoa

Mildew: Powdery or dark fungal infection of mostly older leaves

Mulch: Surface material, either to exclude light or feed soil organisms, or both

No dig: Soil is not disturbed – its inhabitants are fed with organic matter on the surface

NPK: Nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus

Nutrients: Food for plants, also called minerals in the USA

Pasture: A mix of grasses and other vegetation, as food for grazing animals

Path: Access strip between and around beds, with soil mulched and fertile

Perennial: Any plant living for two years or more

Permaculture: Living / farming efficiently, and according to nature’s methods – inspired by Bill Mollison

Plastic: Sheets of non-biodegradable mulch, mostly polythene and polypropylene

Rotation: Growing plants of the same family in a different place

Sides: Optional vertical edges for beds, often made of wood

Slugs: Slimy molluscs that recycle material and thrive in dampness (snail is slug with shell)

Soil: Earth’s surface that plants root into – topsoil first and subsoil below

Sowing: Seeds go into drills / holes made in the ground, or into propagation trays

Stalk: The part of a leaf that attaches it to a plant stem

Stem: The central part of plants, then mostly converts to a flowering stem

Tilth: A fine, crumbly surface layer of soil – produced by cultivation

Transplanting: Plants going into holes made quickly by a dibber, or more slowly by a trowel

Tray: Usually plastic, for raising seeds to transplant – may have cells

Trials: Comparing growth of the same plants in different conditions, not ‘scientific’

Vermicompost: The excretion of worms

Vermiculite: For aeration of potting composts, made by superheating mica rock

Weeds: Plants growing where you don’t want them

Wood chip: Cut by machine, usually 2.5 cm / 1 in or less – may be green or old wood

sow & propagate
Transplant - Size, time of year, Spacing, support
container growing
Prune and train plants/thin fruit
Harvest times and method
Potential problems