Garden Glossary

Our Garden Glossary is a general list of terms with their meanings, and products with their applications, in relation to all things gardening.

Garden Glossary

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Agricultural Limestone – aka Aglime, Garden Lime – Pulverized limestone being primarily made up of Calcium Carbonate, and can also include Calcium Oxide, Magnesium Oxide, and Magnesium Carbonate. Added to soil to increase the pH of acidic soil (being a base it increases alkalinity), provide a source of calcium and magnesium, improves water penetration of many soils, and improves uptake of major plant nutrients in acidic soils.

Alfalfa Meal – A Vegan alternative to Blood Meal, it is a soluble source of Nitrogen for plants as well as a soil acidifier.

Aluminum Sulfate – Used to decrease the pH of soil, or make it more acidic.  It is a very soluble acidifier.

Ammonium Nitrate – A nearly colorless clear salt that serves as an easily-absorbable source of nitrogen for plant growth.

Annual – A plant that grows for one growing season and does not return the following growing season, usually referring to flowering plants. Side Note: Many plants in Florida that are considered annuals elsewhere can be grown year-round here.

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Basagran – An herbicide that targets broadleaf weeds and sedges that grow in fields of beans, seed clover, peas, corn, peanuts, peppermint, spearmint, sorghum, and rice.  Basagran does not control grasses.

Beneficial Insects – Insects that are beneficial to the garden in a predatory or pollinator role include but are not limited to: Ladybugs, Bees, Native Wasps, Native Stingless Bees, Predatory Bees, Brown & Green Lacewings, Praying Mantis, Butterflies

Biodiversity – The variety and variability of all life on Earth and their complex relationships within all of Earth’s biology.

Blood Meal – An animal source of nitrogen and a soil acidifier, it is animal blood that has been dried to a powder.  Alternatives are Feather Meal and Alfalfa Meal.

Bone Meal – used to increase phosphorus in soil, a readily-bioavailable source of phosphorus to increase healthy flower production in garden plants, especially used for increasing production in fruiting plants.

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Brush Killer – an indiscriminate herbicide applied to brush considered “out of control” or for areas where brush needs to be killed quickly.

Calcific Limestone – see Agricultural Lime

Captan – a general use fungicide that is used to control fungus growing on agricultural and ornamental plants and trees.

Cedar Oil – aka Cedarcide – a natural mosquito repellant, usually applied with a spray nozzle attached to a garden hose to treat outdoor areas to repel mosquitoes.  It is made from the oil of cedar trees.

Chlorothalonil – sometimes sold as brand name Daconil – a broad-spectrum, non-systemic fungicide

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Companion Planting – the organic gardening practice of planting “neighbor” plants that are mutually beneficial to one another, either by enhancing the soil environment or deterring pests, e.g. carrots with tomatoes, squash with beans and corn.

Composting – recycling of organic waste into nutrient-rich soil for gardening. There are different kinds of composting, such as manure composting and vermicomposting.

Conserve Naturalyte Insect Control w/ Spinosad – OMRI-listed organic insect control for vegetables, ornamentals, and fruit trees.  Controls fire ants, caterpillars, worms, leafminers, leafrollers, thrips, gall midges, leaf-feeding beetles, fruit flies, Colorado potato beetle, corn earworms.

Container Garden – growing plants in containers, as opposed to in the ground.  Container gardening allows plant locations to be moved for optimal light and temperature as well as the possibility to exert complete control over the growing medium (soil, hydroponic, aquaponic, etc.).  e.g. Earthbox

Copper Sulfate – used to kill bacteria, algae, roots, plants, snails and fungi.  Often used to kill tree stumps after a tree has been removed.

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Cover Crop – Agriculture: a type of plant(s) used to enrich soil, prevent erosion, prevent weeds, pests, and diseases after growing a production/agriculture crop e.g. corn, soybeans, strawberries.  Usually a cover crop in farming will return nutrients to the soil that the previous crop removed.  Lawns: usually a grass that will cover a dormant grass, for instance, using Rye Grass to provide a green lawn when Bahia goes dormant in the cooler months.

Coyote Urine – Coyote urine is used as a deterrent for deer and other herbivores that might be eating your landscape and garden.  Apply as needed to keep those that would eat your garden and ornamentals away from your yard.

Crossbow – a non-discriminate herbicide that stays active in soil for long periods of time which deters further weed growth.

Cupro 5000 DF – a fungicide with the active ingredient copper hydroxide.

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Daconil – aka Chlorothalonil a broad-spectrum non-systemic fungicide.

Dithane M-45 – a broad-spectrum non-systemic protective fungicide that is used in agriculture and greenhouse growing, and is best used in a preventative spraying regimen at scheduled intervals.

Dolomite – aka Dolomitic Lime – a major agricultural source of calcium and magnesium for plants; buffers the pH of soil.  See Agricultural Lime.

Eagle 20EW Specialty Fungicide – a specialized fungicide, controls Dollar spot, Brown patch, Anthracnose, Spring dead spot, Necrotic ring spot, Red thread, Leaf spot, Powdery mildew, Rusts, Zoysia large patch, Septoria leaf spot, Zonate Leaf Spot and more.

Feather Meal – an alternative to blood meal, made of ground up feathers, it is a source of absorbable nitrogen for plants.

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Fertilizer – any of several compounds and products, either naturally-occurring or manufactured, that promote increased plant growth via added nutrition.

Fish Emulsion 5-1-1 – made from the leftovers of commercial fish production, or you can make your own with leftover fish, sawdust, and molasses. Provides highly absorbable nitrogen and micronutrients.

Flea – a small insect that feeds on blood of its host, causing itching and spreading diseases, including tapeworms, cat scratch disease, typhus, and M. haemofelis.

Forsythe pot – a plant-duplication tool; a porous clay pot is placed inside a larger non-porous plastic pot, and in between the two pots is wet vermiculite. The clay pot is filled with water and plant cuttings are placed in the vermiculite.  Keeping the clay pot full of water will create just the right moisture to cause the plant cuttings to grow roots.  These cuttings with roots can then be planted in soil and will grow into an exact copy of the original plant.

Fungicide – any number of chemical or organic compounds that are known to kill fungi.

Fungus – a family of organisms which include yeasts, molds and mushrooms.

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Germination – the beginning of growth, as from a seed, spore, or bud.

GFF – aka Garden Friendly Fungicide – an organic fungicide which utilizes a strain of bacteria Bacillus amyloliquefaciens strain D747 to kill unwanted fungi in gardens, orchards, greenhouses, lawns and landscapes such as powdery and downy mildew, bacterial leaf spots, rust, scab, stem rot, and many more.

Guerilla Gardening – the act of gardening on land that the gardeners do not legally have the right to cultivate, usually abandoned sites, neglected areas, and unkept private property.

Gypsum – in Florida it is mainly used for improving heavy clay soil structure and remove sodium from saline soils.  It really is not good for other kinds of soils, and according to https://s3.wp.wsu.edu/uploads/sites/403/2015/03/gypsum.pdf can actually be harmful to plants, water runoff, and the microbiome of your soil.  Use with caution.

Hand-Pollination – a method of manually transferring pollen from a plant’s male flower to a plant’s female flower so that it will produce seeds and/or fruit.  E.g. Commonly used in gardening for crops such as squash and zucchini to keep them from cross-pollination, which produces misshapen squash/zucchini hybrids (they are edible, they just look funny!). Forbidden in Heirloom Seed propagation practices.

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Herbi-oil 83-17 Spray Adjuvant – Use in combination with other herbicides, this increases the potency of the herbicide being used.

Heirloom – a historical cultivar of a garden seed that has been passed down from farmer to farmer for over 50 years, and is the product of open-pollination (natural pollination).  Heirlooms are coveted for their prized flavors and other characteristics.

Hydrated Lime – see Agricultural Lime – this is Calcium Carbonate that has been combined with water.

Iron – used in gardening and lawn care as a “greening agent,” as it is a required molecule for making chlorophyll.  E.g. Milorganite is a source of iron for lawns

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Kelp Green – an all-natural fertilizer derived from Kelp from Ireland and oceanic fish, high in natural macro and micro nutrients, antioxidants, amino acids, vitamins, hormones, and minerals that plants need.

Kitchen Garden – a garden, usually located either in or just outside the kitchen containig commonly used cooking herbs and salad vegetables like tomatoes, cucumbers, and lettuce.

Kocide 3000 – a copper fungicide and bactericide

Lawn Weed Killer (Southern Ag) – controls broadleaf weeds on most southern lawns including St. Augustine, Bahia, and Centipede – as with most chemicals, ask for assistance and follow all instructions

Malathion 50% E.C. – a broad-spectrum insecticide used as a foliar spray to control aphids, scale, worms, Japanese beetles, horn flies, lice, ticks, fleas, bed bugs, thrip, leafminers, spider mites, mosquitoes.

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Milorganite – a lawn fertilizer made from processed human waste that is a highly-absorbable source of iron for grasses and other plants, it acts as a greening agent for lawns.

Minor Elements – nutrients that are needed in very small amounts for plants to successfully grow and reproduce.  They consist of: Boron (B), Chlorine (CI), Copper (Cu), Iron (Fe), Manganese (Mn), Molybdenum (Mo), and Zinc (Zn)

Mole Cricket Bait – insecticide which controls mole crickets, but also cutworms, armyworms, crickets, darkling ground beetles, grasshoppers, and sowbugs.

Muriate of Potash – aka MOP – highly-absorbable source of potassium and chloride, consists of 50% potassium and 46% chloride.  Potassium is required for growth and reproduction.

Mushroom Compost – the spent soil of mushroom production, used as compost fertilizer in lawns and gardens. Caution: can have high salt content which damages young seedling and can kill germinating seeds; however, the benefits of using mushroom compost seem to far outweigh the risks.

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Mushrooms – the fleshy fruiting body of fungi that holds and disperses the spores that spread the mushroom population in an area; some are poisonous and some are edible.  Typically seeing fungi mushrooms or other fruiting bodies in the garden is a positive sign, meaning that your soil is of optimum nutrition.  Fungi break down wood and other rotting materials in the soil and release nutrients, thus are an integral part of the ecosystem that your plants are growing in.

Mycorrhizae – a fungi that establishes a symbiotic (or beneficial) relationship with the roots of a vascular host plant. The fungi provides nutrients to the plant, and the plant provides a steady substrate for the fungi to live and spread; the fungi provide a constant source of carbohydrates, water, and/or minerals that feeds the plant, and often the plant cannot survive without them.

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Natural – in gardening, derived from readily-available sources, as opposed to manufactured or created sources. Existing or caused by nature, not made or caused by humans.

Neem Oil – oil derived from neem trees, used for cosmetics, medicine, a natural pesticide to control mealy bugs, beet armyworms, aphids, cabbage worms, thrips, whiteflies, mites, fungus, gnats, beetles, moth larvae, mushroom flies, leafminers, caterpillars, locusts, nematods, and Japanese beetles.  Also for ants, bedbugs, cockroaches, houseflies, sand flies, snails, termites, and mosquitoes.  Controls black spot, powdery mildew, anthracnose, and rust fungi.

Nematodes – aka roundworms, are largely a parasitic species (with a few exceptions) or cause the spread of other diseases as they feed from plant to plant. Limitedly, there are nematodes that are predatory to cutworms and corn earworm moths. 

Neonicitinoids – a “new” class of broad-spectrum insecticides that act on insects by paralyzing them, causing death. They include imidacloprid, acetamiprid, clothianidin, dinotefuran, nithiazine, thiacloprid, thiamethoxam.

Nitrate of Soda – a fertilizer form of sodium nitrate, a singular source of nitrogen for plants that does not leave an acidic residue, used for quick growth and color.

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Nolobait – an organic pesticide for lubbers, aka locusts, utilizing Nosema locustae, a microsporidium fungi that kills over 90 species of locusts, grasshoppers, crickets, and some corn borers too in the Melanoplus group primarily). It should be broadcast in the early season as grasshoppers/locusts emerge. Causes the insects to stop feeding, become lethargic, and die. Ideally they contract the fungus prior to reproducing, effectively stopping the next generation of insects from being created.

Non-GMO – an organism that has not been forcefully genetically modified.

Non-Organic – created/manufactured by humans, usually referring to chemicals being used in the process of growing or preserving food.

NPK – the 3-number indicator of nutrient analysis in fertilizer. N = Nitrogen, P = Phosphorus, K = Potassium. The higher the number, the more concentrated the nutrient is in that formulation.  It is a number system to be able to quickly calculate how many pounds of the fertilizer are needed to make 1 pound of the nutrient in the soil. For instance, with a 10-10-10 fertilizer, divide 10 into 100, and this determines that you would need 10 pounds of the fertilizer to make 1 pound of NPK nutrients in the soil.

Open Pollination – natural pollination process utilizing pollinators like bees and butterflies as well as wind and other natural factors. Any pollination that occurs without human intervention.

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Organic – derived, created from natural non-manufactured sources that is not unnaturally altered in any way. In food regulation, Organic means analyzed by the USDA to meet their criteria for being “organic”.

Parafine – a horticultural oil made from light and heavy paraffin. It is an insecticide.

Peat Moss – any combination of the over 300 species of sphagnum mosses.  In gardening, peat moss is mixed with soil to improve overall water retention in the soil, making the water available to plant roots in that soil.  It was discovered to have this capability in the early 1900s and since then has revolutionized commercial container planting and is used to increase water retention in poor soils.  It is a controversial soil amendment, as the availability of peat bogs, where peat moss grows, is limited.  Peat bogs are an entire ecosystem unto themselves, millions of years in the making, and an environmentally necessary part of the biology in the climates and topographies where sphagnum mosses grow.

Perennial – a type of plant that continually regrows throughout the seasons; goes dormant in cold months and returns in the spring.  Usually refers to ornamental grasses and flowering plants that return with new growth each spring.

Perlite – a volcanic glass with a relatively high water content, formed by the hydration of obsidian (volcanic glass).  Used in gardening to help moisture retention in the soil.

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Permaculture – agriculture ecosystems intended to be sustainable and self-sufficient; in other words, planting food-producing plants that continually renew themselves and have a symbiotic relationship with each other.

Pest – a pest in gardening is a predatory or otherwise damaging force leading to the death of crop plants or elimination of the fruit of the plant.

Pollination – the transfer of pollen from one plant to another in order to commence reproduction processes.

Pollinator – any number of organisms or natural processes that facilitates pollination

Q-S                                   

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Raised Bed Gardening – gardening in beds of soil that are higher than ground level; these “beds” can be surrounded by wood, deckboards, concrete, or any hard structure, or they can simply be mounded earth in which crops are planted. Raised bed gardening is utilized to help begin germination of seeds earlier, as soil above the ground is warmer than soil at and below ground level.  Also, soil above the ground is easier to work for weeding and amending purposes.

Rometsol – a non-selective weed and brush control herbicide used for industrial lands, pasturelands, turf growing fields, etc., not for use in agricultural areas. Controls broadleaf and noxious weeds.

Rooftop Gardening – an example of urban farming, using available roof space in urban areas to grow food, usually in large raised beds and containers.

Roundup QuickPro – a non-selective post-emergent weed control for residential, commercial, industrial and non-agricultural use.

SA-20 disinfectant – a deodorizer, fungicide and mildew eliminator for greenhouse disinfecting, great for cleaning pots and containers for re-use.

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Spreader Sticker – increases retention of insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, and nutritional sprays for ornamentals and vegetables by preventing wash-off, as well as aiding the spreading of spray material on waxy leaves like roses and and cabbage.

Square Foot Gardening – a term coined by Mel Bartholomew in the 1981 book Square Foot Gardening (which was later updated in 2006 by the same author) where crops are planted in 1-foot squares according to their nutritional needs, for instance, 1 tomato or mint plant in one square, or 4 strawberries in one square, or 16 radishes in one square.  It is a way to maximize crops in small spaces, and the author has other suggestions to maximize food production including companion planting and sun orientation suggestions.

Straw Bale Garden – gardening using a straw bale as the “soil” to plant in. Essentially it is another kind of container gardening, and is also great for kitchen gardening.  Hay keeps the roots at a solid temperature, provides nutrients through decay, holds enough water to share with a plant, is stable enough to support larger fruits (like zucchini), and can easily be composted after the harvest along with the plants.

Subsistence Farming – self-sufficiency farming technique where the focus is to only grow what is needed to feed the family, with little to no extra food left over.

Surfactant for Herbicides – an herbicide spray add-on that decreases the surface tension of water to ensure more even application of the herbicide to the target plants.

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Surflan A. S. – a pre-emergent herbicide which controls annual grasses and many broadleaf weeds in established warm-season turf and ornamentals.

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Thiomyl – a foliar spray mostly used on roses and bulbs to control fungus on winter-dug bulbs, stem, crown and root rot, and black spot on Roses; controls anthracnose, black spot, fusarium blight, botrytis, and other ornamental plant fungus diseases.

Thuricide-BT Caterpillar Control – OMRI-listed organic caterpillar control using Bacillus thurengiensis in a liquid form.  Controls lepidoptera larvae, caterpillars, worms i.e. cabbage loopers, orange dog, tobacco hornworm, imported cabbageworm, rindworm, etc.

Triple Action Neem Oil (see Neem Oil)

Urban Farming – growing food in urban areas – examples are city community gardens, rooftop gardening, patio gardening, container gardening, etc.

Urea – a source of nitrogen for plants.  When applying, urea must be placed into the soil immediately or it will convert to ammonium bicarbonate and escape as a gas into the atmosphere.

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Vermicomposting – using worms to turn paper and food waste into compost, in the form of worm castings or “worm poop” and a resulting compost tea, both of which are full of bioavailable nutrients.

Vermiculite – a form of mica which attracts and holds water; used as a soil amendment to make the soil hold more water, and is also used in making a Forsythe pot, which is a pot to readily root cuttings of your plants to create new plants that are exactly the same as the original plant.

Vermiculture – the practice of cultivating worms for vermicomposting, fishing, etc.

Victory Garden – vegetable gardens planted in the yards of American households in the 1940-50s, encouraged by the government to feed the country during WWII.

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WeedPro Glyphosphate 41% – non-selective herbicide – contains the same ingredients as RoundUp.

Zinc Sulfate – a soil amendment to replace zinc, a micronutrient that is often removed during construction processes or is depleted due to overfarming.  Zinc deficiency will cause yellowed, shriveled plants that do not thrive, as zinc is essential to biological growth processes.

1-10                               

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2,4-D Amine Weed Killer – a broadleaf weed control solution, usually used in commercial turf areas like parks, golf courses, etc.