bonus episode | show notes & advice | gardening glossary
It can often feel like gardening has an entirely new language that you have to learn! So for those budding new gardeners in our midst, for this special bonus episode Sarah & Arthur have pulled together a beginner’s guide to terminology.
They’ll prepare you to enjoy the rest of the podcast by explaining some common phrases used and a few basic gardening techniques for you to care for your garden organically.
An annual is a plant which lives for one year, forming roots, leaves, flowering and setting seed all within a few months.
They divide into:
If it’s hardy, it can withstand some winter cold and wet, and will survive with foliage above ground through the frosts. If it is germinated in late August or September, the seedling will go into a semi-dormant period through the winter, coming back into growth in the spring. Classic examples are corn poppies, cornflowers, love-in-a-mist and sweet peas (these are hardy but don’t like the wet).
If it’s half-hardy, it cannot withstand winter wet and cold and will be killed by the frosts. Sow the seeds and grow the seedlings in a light, frost-free place, protecting them under cover until the frosts are over. You’ll then have decent-sized plants, almost in flower, and ready to put out in the garden at the end of spring. The plants will usually flower into autumn and then be zapped when the frosts come. Classic examples are cosmos, zinnias and tobacco plants — so-called ‘bedding plants’.
Biennials are plants that form roots and leaves in the first year, but only flower, set seed and die in the second.
A swollen energy store which the plant draws on to grow back in the spring. Classic examples amongst the flowers are dahlias, and potatoes in the edible group.
Perennials are plants that live from one year to the next. They divide into:
These die back in autumn, and spring into life again in the spring. A classic example is a peony.
These stay with foliage above ground all year, including winter. A classic example is a hellebore.
This means what it says, if you pick a flower stem above a pair of leaves, by removing the leader, axillary buds form between the main stem and leaves to form next week’s flower. Classic examples amongst the flowers are sweet peas, cosmos, snapdragons.
And similarly, if you pick the outer leaves of edible crops such as salad rocket, mizuna, chard, the heart grows more to replenish them.
Our home-made Propagation Table
To germinate most seeds, you want a warm, moist, dark environment. I place my seed trays of half-hardy annuals on a propagator bench set at 20ºC. I usually cover them with empty compost bags to enclose moisture and warmth and keep out the light. I then check morning and evening for any signs of germination. Trays must then be uncovered and put in a place of maximum light.
The layers on my propagator bench
- Black plastic or empty, split open compost bags
- Seed trays
- Capillary matting
- Horticultural electric blanket attached to a thermostat on the side of the table.
- Polystyrene insulating sheeting
- Wooden bench
This is when you move baby seedlings from a tray with all their siblings into a pot on its own.