Even though it’s still cold, we can look forward to nice, sunny days comfortable enough to walk in the garden, do some chores such as cleaning, preparing beds, planning, etc. And, it won’t be long before we’ll be making trips to garden centers and nurseries to see what’s new for 2013 and get a few ideas for the spring herb garden.
Sooner or later, while browsing through the garden centers, we’ll come across interesting terms or abbreviations that don’t always sound familiar or are difficult to understand. Here’s a short list of some common and not so common terms gardeners use.
Annual- an herb plant that matures in one season. Good examples are basil or chervil
Biennial- a plant that matures in two years; grows during the first year and flowers during the second year. A good example of an herb that does this is parsley.
Perennial- This herb can live for several years, growing and producing. If well taken care of the life span of perennial herbs is five or more years. Three examples: rosemary, thyme and chives.
Bolting- premature elongation of stem into flower stalk. Basil will bolt if not pruned before flowering. Once basil flowers, it signals to the plant that it’s finished producing.
Hardening Off- gradual adjustment of indoor or greenhouse grown plants to outdoors. Little herb plants require this adjustment for best growth and adaptation to the outside.
Heirloom plant- a cultivar older than 45 years. Example- Most Amish seed stock of herbs are saved from season to season and produce what is commonly called “true.” This means it produces the same variety each time. Example: Chives. Seeds saved each year remain true to themselves.
pH- This is a symbol to indicate the acidity or the alkalinity of the soil. A good example of an herb that likes a sweet soil is dill. You can sweeten an acid soil with dolomitic lime. This will raise the pH enough so that the dill plant produces long, graceful seed heads and lush green foliage.
Scarification- This is a practice used with hard seeds. Gently file the end of the seed with an emery board. This cracks the hard coated seed and produces quicker germination. Example: Cilantro. A hard seed to germinate. Either file the seed on one side or soak the seed in warm water 2 hours before planting.
Volunteer- A cultivated plant growing from self-sown or dropped seed. Good examples are parsley and dill. If left to overwinter they will return in the same area the following spring.
~ Meadow Walker