Organic Gardening Glossary

Organic Gardening Glossary

Wondering what a certain organic gardening term means? Find it here in the organic gardening glossary.


Aerobic composting Composting by means of bacteria which thrive in an oxygen rich environment. Generally, this type of composting doesnt stink. More at compost.


Anerobic composting Composting by means of bacteria which thrive in an environment lacking oxygen. Generally, this type of composting stinks. These bacteria give off sulpher dioxide as a waste product, which stinks like rotten eggs. More at compost.


Annual Plant which lives for only one season.


Bat guano Bat feces used as a fertilizer. It is high in nitrogen and phosphorus.


Bird guano Feces of seabirds harvested and used as a fertilizer. It is high in nitrogen and phosphorus.


Biennial Plant which produces flowers the second year of growth.


Biological pest control Use of biological organisms to control unwanted pest organisms. Example, use of lady bugs for aphid control.


Cold frame A temporary covering, usually of glass or plastic, which protects plants from frosts and freezes.


Companion planting Planting certain plant species which benefit one another. Example, marigolds will help deter pests in the garden.


Compost The process of decomposing organic materials for use in the garden.


C:N Carbon to Nitrogen ratio. Refers to the amount of carbon-rich materials to nitrogen-rich materials in a composting set up.


Compost tea Compost which has been oxygenated in water, increasing the number of good bacteria present.


Composting worms Red wiggler worms or Eisenia fetida, worm species which are able to eat many times their weight in decomposing organic matter on a daily basis. Their excrement (castings) is a valuable gardening resource for enriching soil.


Drip irrigation System of irrigation which drips water right at the base of the plant, instead of spraying a large area.


Fish emulsion an organic fertilizer made from fish waste from fish oil and fish meal processors.


Fish fertilizer See fish emulsion


Heirloom seeds Seed varieties collected for generations by everyday people. Such varieties are usually hardy, pest resistant and have other desirable qualities, as well as being open pollinated. Heirloom seeds are important store houses of genetic diversity.


Hydroponics A method of growing plants without soil. Plants are grown in water and nutrients.


Mulch Dry organic material used to cover the soil surface to keep moisture in the soil and prevent growth of weeds. Examples: pine bark, shredded newspaper, straw, cypress


N P K Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium (or potash). The three essential nutrients of plant growth and health.


Organic gardening the science and art of gardening using non-synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, soil building techniques, and promoting heirloom variety plants.


Perennial Plants which live indefinitely, blooming year after year.


Soaker hose A porous, rubber hose which leaks water onto the soil, allowing it to soak deeply.


Terra preta Rich, black, man-made soils of the Amazon basin which continue to replenish themselves even today.


Vericompost Compost created by worms.


Xeriscape A water wise gardening method which uses native plants adapted to xeric (dry) conditions, so little watering is required.

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