Organic Gardening Glossary

This organic gardening glossary will give you a little idea of the substance of some organic gardening words but not all terms related with organic fertilizers or gardening. The words were not gathered from the dictionary but by a common man’s explanation of the words with the aid of organic experts from around the United States.

Acid soil— Soils with a 7 pH and below. Also called sour soil.

Actinomycetes— A fungus-like soil microorganism required in the decay of organic matter like everyday mushrooms.

Aeration— A manual act of putting holes in the soil to permit air and gases in to be interchanged.

Aerobic— an organism that can live and grow in an oxygenized surroundings.

Alfalfa Meal— A natural growth stimulant made from alfalfa. Fast acting. NPK 2.5-0.2-2

Alkaline Soil— Soil with a 7 pH and above, aka sweet soil.

Amino Acids— The main ingredients of protein. They are made up mainly from nitrogen and carbohydrates.

Anaerobic— Living or active in the lack of free oxygen. An organism that does not need oxygen for growth. It may react in a negative way or even die if oxygen is introduced.

Annual— A plant that will live for one season due to either weather or its natural cycle.

Bacillus Thuringiensis— A biological soil-dwelling bacterium that specifically target caterpillars and other pesty insects.

Bacteria— Used in composting to produce the heat related in hot composting. There are 3 types: thermophilic, psychrophilic and mesophyllic.

Bat Guano-– Discharging waste matter from bats that is used as a fertilizer. That is bat manure.

Beneficial Insect— are often called beneficial bugs and are any of a number of species of insects that do important services like pollination and pest control.

Biennial— A plant that takes 2 years to finish its life cycle and produce seed.

Bio-Solids— a precipitate made by sewage treatment by-products and are made when wastewater and sewage are processed to reduce disease-producing agents, also to break organic matter down into their more basic forms.

Biodegradable— Having capacity or ability of being decomposed by, for example: bacteria.

Biological Pest Control— is a method of controlling pests such as weeds and plant diseases, also insects, mites, using other organisms, but generally also involves a human involvement.

Black Spot— A disease caused by a fungus which for the most part has an effect upon the foliage of roses. It will be worse in wet weather.

Blood Meal— A dry organic fertilizer made from blood. Analysis will be around NPK 11-0-0.

Bone Meal— Made from cooked bones worked to a meal. Steamed bone meal. Phosphorus is the main nutrient, NPK is 1-11-0.

Borax— Borax contains about 11% boron. Used in fertilizer as a source of the boron, a plant food element.

Cane Borer— An insect larva that burrows and feeds on the core stem of plants like roses.

Chelated— A compound that minerals are often changed prior to their use as soil additives and fertilizers.

Chlorosis— A condition occurring when a plant shows a deficiency of chlorophyll. Leaves become yellowish while the veins remain dark green. For the most part caused by too much water or lack of iron.

Cold Frame— is a see through roofed structure, built low to the ground, used to guard plants from adverse weather, mainly beyond normal limits of cold or wet.

Colloidal Phosphate(soft) — also known as colloidal phosphate is a clay substance that is mined from the old settling basins of former hard phosphate rock mining operations in and around Florida. NPK 0-2-0. The Best choice for alkaline soil and is faster releasing than rock phosphate.

Companion Planting— used in gardening and agriculture and is the planting of assorted crops in pollination, pest control. Provides living space for beneficial creatures, giving utmost use of space, and to increase crop production.

Compost— Decomposed organic material made to enrich the soil. Totally decayed matter.

Composted manure— Animal manure, like cow manure, that has been naturally composted and has killed pathogens and weed seed by this process.

Cottonseed Meal— Fertilizer meal made from ground cottonseed. NPK 6-2-1. Best put into compost pile and made pass through that process prior to using.

Cover Crop— is a crop planted primarily to control soil erosion, soil fertility, soil quality, water, weeds, pests, diseases and wildlife.

Crop Rotation-– is the way of operation of growing a group of unlike or different types of crops in the same area in sequenced seasons. It is done so that the soil of farms is not used for only one set of nutrients. It assists in reducing soil erosion and enhances soil fertility and crop production.

Cultivar— A variety of a plant amended from a natural species and held under development.

Dead Heading— pruning dead or dying flowers to promote further blooms by halting the laying of seeds.

Diatomaceous Earth— An talc-like dust from skeletal remains of various small, single-celled algae with cell walls comprising chiefly of silica. Used as an insecticide and food supplement.

Direct Seed-– To sow seed straight into the soil rather than starting in shallow box or pot in which seedlings are started.

Dolomite— Made from dolomitic limestone, that has both magnesium carbonate and calcium carbonate, by a process of grinding. Added to soils deficient of these minerals.

Double Digging— is a gardening method used to increase soil drainage and aeration. It calls for the loosening of two layers of soil, generally done when preparing soil in a new garden, or when deep top-soil is wanted.

Earthworm Castings— Earthworm fecal matter high in nutrients. One of the best organic fertilizers.

Epsom Salts— Hydrated magnesium sulfate. It is used as a fast acting source of magnesium and sulfur generally used as a soil amendment.

Fertilizer— Any material such as manure or a mixture of organic nitrates, in this case, used to get soil more fertile

Fish Emulsion— A liquid fertilizer made from fish. NPK 10.5-6-0. If used with liquid seaweed it will make one great all around fertilizer.

Foliage-– A term that reference to the leaves of a plant.

Foliar Spray— Liquid solution of fertilizers sprayed on the leaves and is rapidly consumed and used right away by the plant.

Garden Fertilizer— A fertilizer specifically developed for the growing garden. Lucky for us organic fertilizers do not need any special formula.

Germination— When a seed or spore sprouts.

Granite Sand— decayed or ground-up granite rock. Contains silicas and 19 trace minerals. Has 1% to 4% total potash.

Grass Fertilizer— The same as lawn fertilizer. Feeding the grass is same as feeding the soil and plants.

Green Manure— A cover crop, such as rye grass and clover used to protect the soil, hold nutrients and augment the soil fertility or organic matter.

Greensand— A deposit called glauconite that is naturally found undersea. It’s an awesome source of potash. Add as an iron supplement.

Guano–Manure of bats and birds that is used for fertilizer purposes.

Gypsum— Calcium sulfate, a mineral used in fertilizer as a source of calcium and sulfur. Also used to improve alkaline soils holding a high sodium content.

Hay-– Grass or clover that is cut while still green and used as a fodder or mulch.

Hardening Off— The process of gradually exposing plants to cooler and adverse growing conditions to increase their chances of surviving when planted out of doors.

Hardy— A plant that will survive the normal temperature range in a given area.

Herbicide— A product used for weed control.

Humus— Soil or organic matter that has broken down, it smells like the forest floor. A 3% to 5% of this organic matter should be found in healthy soil. Is a slow release form of food for microorganisms.

Hydrogen Peroxide 3%— An oxygenating compound used for soil conditioning and bacteria fighting.

Hydromulching— A method of seeding that uses seed, fertilizer and mulch in a solution sprayed on the soil surface to grow.

Inorganic— Made from a source that was never alive now or in the past.

Insecticide— Product used to control insects.

Integrated Pest Management (IPM)— also known as integrated pest control (IPC) is a broad-based movement that unites practices for economic control

Kelp— Any of a variety of brown seaweeds, ground up, used to enrich the soil. NPK 1-0.5-2.5.

Lawn Fertilizer— A fertilizer set up to feed the lawn(grass) and the soil that it grows in.

Leaching— The gradual loss of minerals from soil from the action of water.

Liquid Fertilizer— A fertilizer in liquid form that is broadcast by a sprayer.

Loam— The ideal type of soil(earth) which is a mixture of clay, sand and silt. With the addition of organic material will make it perfect.

Macro-nutrients— Essentials needed for all plants in large quantities. Included are NPK, calcium, sulfur and magnesium.

Magnesium Sulfate— A soluble salt used as a source of magnesium like epsom salts.

Micro-nutrients— Essentials needed for all plants, include iron, manganese, copper, boron, molybdenum, chlorine, colbalt and zinc.

Microorganisms— They are bacteria, fungi, actinomycetes, algae, protozoa, beneficial nematodes and yeast which exist to breakdown organic matter into mineral elements.

Minerals— They provide the food and nutrients for plants and microorganisms. They are the basic form of organic matter.

Mulch— A covering or blanket, normally organic or inorganic, laid on the soil around the base of plants to cut back erosion, control weeds, constant moisture and provide insulation to the soil in extremely hot or cold weather.

N-P-K— Initials for Nitrogen-Phosphate-Potash.

No-Till Gardening— is a non-cultivation method used by some organic gardeners, is a way of growing crops or pasture from year to year without disturbing the soil.

Open Pollination— Transfer of pollen from the anther to the stigma of a plant, when the plants of an open pollinated variety self-pollinate, or are pollinated by another representative of the same variety.

Organic— Material which is either plant or animal in origin, Simple and healthful and close to nature.

Organic Gardening— art of growing fruits, vegetables, flowers, or ornamental plants by abiding by the important principles of organic agriculture in soil building and conservation, pest management and heirloom variety preservation.

Peat— Partly decomposed moss plant which grows in moist areas in the north.

Perennial— A plant that grows year after year as are most trees, shrubs, grasses, and some smaller plants.

pH— The measurement of the acidity and alkalinity of a material. It ranges from 0 to 14, with 7 being neutral. 0-7 indicate acidity, 7-14 indicate alkalinity.

Phosphate— The fertilizer form of phosphorus. Usually considered the actual bloom of the flower producing mineral.

Potash— Usually made from wood ashes. One of the three main minerals in fertilizer. A term used to signify potassium.

Potassium Magnesium Sulfate— Also called Sul-Po-Mag and langeinite. Mined mainly in New Mexico and some European countries. Use in areas that lack these minerals.

Protozoa— One-celled microscopic animals required to help decompose organic matter.

Rhizome— A horizontal plant stem with shoots above and roots below working as a reproductive structure

Rock powders— The most common rock powders are limestone, rock phosphate, granite dust, greensand, langbeinite and basalt. They have fertilizing qualities and most useful in acid soils.

Root Rot— A disease caused by fungus that attacks the root system of plants. Caused by incorrect moisture conditions.

Root Stimulator— A solution high in phosphorus fertilizer and a rooting hormone used to increase the root growth.

Seaweed— Saltwater plants used for fertilizer. Combined with fish emulsion can provide the best complete organic fertilizer.

Secondary Elements— Plant food elements such as calcium, magnesium, and sulfur. All needed for healthy soil and plants.

Soil— Primarily clay, sand, silt, organic matter, and living organisms making the top layer of earth’s crust.

Soil Acidifier— A material used to make the soil more acid.

Soil Amendment— Different from fertilizer by law. Matter that makes the soil healthier by activating microorganisms, balance pH, and add nutrients while balancing them.

Soil Conditioner— A material that is added to the soil to enrich its content.

Soil Test— Test done to estimate the soil-available concentrations of plant nutrients, in order to find out the type of fertilizer needed.

Sul-Po-Mag— Mined material consisting of sulfur, potassium and magnesium. Only apply when soil analyzis show it lacking these minerals.

Tilth— state of grouping of soil and its condition for supporting plant growth.

Top Dressing or Side Dressing— Adding soil conditioners or fertilizer to the surface of soil around plants.

Transplanting–act of removing a plant from one region and introducing it in another region.

Vermiculite— A spongy soil conditioner frequently used to lighten clay soils. It may also be used as a propagating conditioner.

Vermiculture— The use of worms to eat newspapers and food scrapes to make nutrient rich castings.

Weeds— A plant growing in a place where it is not desirable. Any plant can be a weed to different people.

Wood Ashes— NPK 0-1.5-8. Will increase the pH of soil. It should not be used in one area more than every 3-4 years.

Xeriscaping— is gardening and landscaping that cuts down or does away with the supply of water from adding to dry land with water by means of ditches etc.

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