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happy planting.

Garden-pedia

Plant terms can be confusing. If you find yourself a bit perplexed, the glossary below may help. If I have missed any, please let me know.

Happy Planting!


Acidic Soil Soil with a pH of less than 7
   
Alkaline Soil Soil with a pH of greater than 7
   
Amendment Any material, such as compost or lime, that is mixed with existing soil to improve properties
   
Annual Plant that completes its lifecycle in one growing season, then dies
   
Basal Foliage Leaves found near the base of the stem
   
Biennial Plant that completes its lifecylce in two growing seasons, then dies
   
Border A garden, usually containing a variety of plants, that is backed by walls, fences, or taller plants, such as, trees or shrubs
   
Compost Organic material used as a soil amendment
   
Crown Area on a plant where the stem meets the root, generally found at soil level
   
Cultivar Refers to a group of plants within a species that has slightly different characteristics, such as, flower color or size
   
Deadheading Removal of old, spent/dead flowers, may promote reblooming
   
Deciduous Refers to trees and shrubs that lose their leaves seasonally, usually in the fall
   
Division The process of splitting up plants, commonly performed on perennials
   
en masse Planting masses of the same plant to create a bold statement
   
Evergreen Plants that retain their foliage for more than one growing season
   
Fertilizer Organic or inorganic material added to the soil to encourage plant growth
   
Groundcover A plant that spreads to cover the soil surface
   
Growth Rate Slow: 3-6" per year, Moderate: 6-12" per year, Fast: 12-24+ per year
   
Habit General form or shape of a plant
   
Hardiness Zone Zones that provide guidelines to measure a plants ability to tolerate hot and cold temperatures
   
Herbaceous Non-woody plant that dies back to the ground every year
   
Invasive Plant A plant that spreads rapidly and may take over a garden bed
   
Loam Soil that is a mixture of clay, sand and silt
   
Mass Planting A planting where large numbers of the same plant are used to provide visual interest
   
Native Plant A plant that naturally occurs in a certain area
   
Node (leaf node) a joint on a plant stem
   
Perennial Plant that survives for 3 or more growing seasons
   
Pinching A technique used to promote fuller or shorter plants, often resulting in more flower heads
   
Rhizome an underground stem
 

Stamen

pollen producing structure, usually found within the center of the flower
Spathe Leaf like structure that encloses the flower
   
Taproot Main root of a plant, usually growing straight down
   
Variegated A plant whose green foliage is marked with another color, usually white or yellow

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garden how-to

Composting Made Easy

Composting is easy and fun.  It is also great for the environment, reducing trash in our landfills, and adding valuable nutrients to our soil.  Using compost improves soil structure, texture, and aeration, as well as, increasing water-holding capacity.  The organic matter in compost improves soil fertility, stimulating root growth, resulting in healthier plants.     

What to do: 

First, select your location.  You want your compost bin/pile to be in a convenient location, but, out of the way with room to work. Try placing it next to your vegetable garden or perhaps in the back corner of your yard.   

Second, either purchase or make your compost bin.  There are lots of options for purchase, pick the one that suits your needs and your yard.  To make your own bin, google composting bins on the internet.  There are a plethera of options available, from grandiose to super basic, choose the option that fits your style and handyman skills. 

What to compost:

Micro-organisms that recycle leaves and other plant material need an even mix of brown stuff (carbon) and green stuff (nitrogen). They also need air and water.  Turn your pile as often as you can, this will help speed up the breakdown process.  Keep your compost damp, but NOT wet.  If the pile dries out the composting process will slow down.  Bugs in your compost are good, they are helping the breakdown process.  If you live in more northern climates, your pile will freeze over the winter and the composting process will stop.  This is OK, in spring once the pile thaws, give it a stir and the process starts again. 

Brown stuff (Carbon): 

  • Corn and sunflower stalks
  • Dead vegetable garden plants, such as, peas, beans, potato, and tomato vines
  • Dead leaves
  • Pine needles (don’t add too much of these as they decompose slowly)
  • Straw (not hay)
  • Newspapers, shredded cardboard, brown paper bags
  • Sawdust
  • Wood ash
  • Bread crusts
  • Dryer lint and vacuum cleaner bag contents
  • Nut shells
  • Paper towels
  • Stale breakfast cereal

Green stuff (Nitrogen):  

  • Aquarium water, algae and plants
  • Chicken manure
  • Horse Manure
  • Dead houseplants (don’t add anything diseased)
  • Grass clippings (make sure to mix grass clippings with lots of brown material, or you will get a smelly pile)
  • Manure from rabbits, gerbils, hamsters (as well as, wood or paper bedding material)
  • Vegetable kitchen scraps (be sure to bury them in the pile so you do not attract animals)
  • Egg shells
  • Coffee grinds, tea bags/grounds, and unbleached filters

What NOT to add to your compost bin/pile:  

  • Meat and bones
  • Pet Droppings
  • Plant material treated with pesticides or herbicides
  • Diseased plants
  • Do not add weeds unless your pile gets good and hot or it will not kill the weed seeds
  • Anything synthetic, including pesticides, herbicides, plastics, medicines, cleaning products (these will kill the microbes performing the composting process) 

In order for a compost pile to decompose efficiently, you need to create the right ratio of brown (carbon) and green (nitrogen).  Piles with too much green tend to be stinky, because the excess nitrogen produces ammonia gas.  Brown rich piles break down very slowly because there is not enough nitrogen for the micro-organisms to thrive.  Try to keep your compost pile within the ratio of 25-30 parts brown to 1 part green.  But, do not allow the carbon/nitrogen ratio to deter you from composting.  Just start throwing stuff in the pile.  If it gets stinky you know to add some stuff from the brown list.  If the pile is not decomposing fast enough, add stuff from the green list.  Before you know it you will be enjoying rich dark brown compost that is high in the nutrients your plants need to grow strong and beautiful.

                                   Happy Composting!