Garden Clippings: Basic Gardening Terminology

To produce a better garden crop, gardeners should know some basic gardening terminology.

| May 2008

  • 30-GClip-2130898iStock-A.jpg
    GARDENING VOCABULARY: To produce a better garden crop, gardeners should know some basic gardening terminology. Lim

  • 30-GClip-2130898iStock-A.jpg

Soaring fuel prices affect just about everything we do, from travel to grocery bills. This year, I predict that the backyard vegetable garden will be important to even more people than in years past, in an effort to offset some of the grocery tab.

Vegetable gardening can seem like a daunting task to novices and veterans alike when confronted with terms at garden stores that are not part of most people's everyday vocabulary. To thwart this tough part of gardening, I have compiled a list of the most frequently questioned gardening terms I hear from year to year.

An allelopathic plant is a plant that produces a chemical during the growth cycle that disrupts the growth of other plants around it. Black walnuts are notorious for wreaking havoc on tomatoes and peppers planted too closely. Other plants that have an allelopathic nature are asparagus and fennel.

Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) is a naturally occurring bacterium that is used to rid the garden of some insects. It is most effective on foliar-feeding insects. However, applications of Bt are not long-lasting, so it requires repeated applications, preferably in the evening hours for the longest effect before it is degraded by sunlight.

Determinate growth is a term that is important to tomato gardeners. When a variety is listed as having this type of habit, it means that it is most likely a smaller plant that will set and mature the majority of the fruit within one window of time. The 'paste' type tomato will generally fall into this growth habit, giving you a large amount of produce ready for use all at once.

Green manure is not fresh animal manure, but it can provide nitrogen to vegetable garden plants. This term refers to green plants, such as ryegrass, that are planted to protect the soil from erosion during the time when the garden is not growing vegetables. These plants are tilled into the soil before planting vegetables to provide nutrients and organic matter.



February 15-16, 2020
Belton, Texas

Join us in the Lone Star state to explore ways to save money and live efficiently. This two-day event includes hands-on workshops and a marketplace featuring the latest homesteading products.


Subscribe today

Capper's FarmerWant to rediscover what made grandma’s house the fun place we all remember? Capper’s Farmer — the newly restored publication from the rural know-how experts at — updates the tried-and-true methods your grandparents used for cooking, crafting, gardening and so much more. Subscribe today and discover the joys of homemade living and homesteading insight — with a dash of modern living — that makes up the new Capper’s Farmer.

Save Even More Money with our automatic renewal savings plan!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our automatic renewal savings plan. You save an additional $6 and get 4 issues of Capper's Farmer for only $16.95 (USA only).

Or, Bill Me Later and I'll pay just $22.95 for a one year subscription!

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter

Free Product Information Classifieds