A to Z of Organic Gardening

Here’s the low down on the green stuff

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

A

Aerobic: aprocess that requires the presence of oxygen.

Anaerobic: a process that does not require free oxygen, or a condition in which free oxygen is excluded.

Annual: a plant that completes its life cycle in a year.

Anther: pollen bearing structure supported by a filament, which together form the stamen of a flower

Asexual reproduction: non-sexual reproduction, such as grafting, cuttings and tubers

B

Biennial: a plant that completes its life cycle in two years.

Biodiversity: Variabilty within living organisms and their environments

Blanching: covering a plant to prevent sunlight from turning leaves and stalks green

Bolting: development of seed stalks

Brassicas: group of plants which includes Cabbage, Kale, Broccoli, Kohlrabi, Turnip, Rapeseed, Mustard and Brussels Sprouts

C

Clones: plants produced from a genetically identical parent by asexual propagation

Compost: a process speed up the natural decomposition of dead organic matter. Kitchen and garden waste is piled high and left, except for the occassional aeration or watering where it turns into nutrient rich soils ideal for promoting healthy plant growth.

Companion planting: the grouping of plants for their mutual benefit (more on this)

D

Deadheading: Removing the flower heads from plants such as roses once they wilt to encourage further flower growth

E

Earthworms: We love the little darlings. They turn compost into beautiful soil.

F

Fertilizers: Additions to the soild to help a plant grow. Be careful because many fertilisers are not organic in nature

G

Germination: When a seed starts to grow it is said to germinate. The requirements for successful germination are: viable seeds, clean soil, moisture, warmth and (depending on seed variety) either complete darkness or lots of light.

H

Harvesting: Picking your organic crop once it has grown is the best thing in the whole world.

I

Insects: Most are a gardeners friend and need to be encouraged. Some are pests and are best discouraged. This is where we need to resist the urge to use chemical – based  solutions. Not because chemicals are in themselves bad things, but because spraying is the equivalent of carpet bombing. Much better to perform the equivalent of surgical strikes.

L

Leaf Mould:  Decomposed leaves are a great soil conditioner and help the ground to absorb water more easily.

M

Mulch: The secret to great soil is a good annual mulching

N

Netting: Nets over your crops helps stop birds from getting to them. Do make sure that the holes in the nets are big enough to prevent birds from getting trapped.

O

Organic: Doesn’t have any legal definition, but most agree it refers trying to do stuff with recourse to materials synthesized in the lab.

P

Pond: The quickest route to enhancing your garden’s biodiversity is to install a wildlife pond.

R

Raised Beds: Poorly draining soil or  a garden that is prone to flooding both benefit from raised beds. It is less stress on the gardeners back too.

S

Scarification:  Remove the thatch of moss and old grass from your lawn to help water and sunlight get down to the soil.

T

Trowel:  An essential tool for planting, potting up and general pottering.

U

Underplanting: Growing smaller plants under larger shrubs or trees  helps utilize space and provides shelter for  more sensitive plants from high winds, rain and snow.

V

Vegetables:  Get out there and grow your own. There are hundreds of varieties of vegetables to choose from.

W

Water Butts: Collecting rainwater for the garden is better for the environment in general and better for your garden plants in particular. A water butt attached to a downspout from the roof is all you need.

Z

Zucchini: I remember when they used to be called courgettes.