Gardening Glossary

N-P-K

Fertilizers have a standard code to show their relative makeup and to indicate their best use. Complete organic fertilizer has an N-P-K rating of 4-4-4. These numbers indicate N (nitrogen), P (phosphorus) and K (potassium). The letters are consistent with the periodic table of elements, and always occur in this order: N-P-K. Nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium are considered the “primary” nutrients, followed by the secondary group Ca (calcium), Mg (magnesium), and S (sulfur). Many plants absorb more calcium from the soil than they might phosphorus. These six elements are considered “macronutrients,” and must be available in some quanities for plants...

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Offset

A small, complete plant produced by many bulbous plants. It can be easily removed from the original bulb and planted on to for another plant.

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Open Pollination

Plants produced by crossing two parents of the same variety, which in turn produce offspring just like the parent plants, are referred to as open pollinated. Many growers prefer open pollinated varieties because their characteristics are extremely reliable from year to year. Gardeners who like to save seeds should select open pollinated varieties.

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Monoecious

Vine plants such as cucumbers and melons are typically monoecious, meaning that they have flowers that are exclusively male and exclusively female on the same plant. Pollen from male flowers is transferred by insects to the female flower, which then forms a fruit. See also “gynoecious” and “parthenocarpic.”

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Mulch

A layer of material placed over the ground, for the purposes of feeding the soil, conserving moisture, stopping weeds germinating, keeping the soil warm or protecting from heavy rain. Organic mulches include manure, compost, leafmould, bark, straw or newspaper; non-organic materials include black polythene, carpet and gravel.

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