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All of our vegetable garden seeds are chosen for reliable germination
All of our herb seed packets contain detailed sowing and saving instructions
All of our flower seed packets contain detailed sowing and saving instructions
Heirloom, Non-GMO grains and cover crops make great farmer seeds for small homesteads
Our Growing Guide with tips to get started gardening + free downloadable PDF
Survival Garden Training: Learn more about growing your survival garden
Download a free Planting Planner for the Home Garden Seed Collection
Download a free Planting Planner for the Homesteader Seed Vault
Download a free Planting Planner for the Farmer's Seed Vault
Learn about our seeds and get answers to your most common questions
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How to Plan, Plant, Harvest and Store Your Survival Garden
Common terms used on seed packets and in planting instructions
We’ve been putting together planting guides for our three largest seed collections. As we researched and compiled the information, we realized there were some terms that we use regularly that not every new gardener knows. Here are a few of the most common terms that you’ll need to know as you’re gardening.
Cold stratification: Exposing seeds to cold and moist conditions to mimic natural weather cycles. Sprinkle seeds onto a damp paper towel, fold or roll up the paper towel, and place in a plastic baggy stored in the refrigerator for 20-30 days or as indicated.
Scarification: Nicking, scratching, sanding, or otherwise damaging the exterior coating of a seed with a hard outer shell. This can be done with a nail file.
Germination: The emergence of a seedling from a seed after breaking dormancy.
Germination temperature: This is the range of soil temperatures that a given seed needs to germinate. If your house is cooler, you may want to provide a heat mat underneath your seeds if they need higher temperatures. Providing cooler temperatures can be a challenge in a warm house. Chilled water or crushed ice can be used to bring the soil temperature down until germination.
True leaves: Leaves that are shaped and function like the adult leaves of the plant. The first leaves that emerge are cotyledons and are not true leaves.
Hardening off: Gradual exposure of plants to outdoor conditions before transplanting to prevent shock and die-off. This usually takes a week, starting with 3 hours of partial sun exposure and ending with 24 hours of full outdoor conditions. See “Getting Seedlings Ready for the Garden” for more details.
Succession planting: Planting seedlings at intervals of 1-3 weeks to keep a steady supply of harvest.
Thinning: Pull, cut, or remove seedlings to make space and remove crowding. Always leave the healthiest seedlings to grow.
Potting up: Transplant your seedlings or plants to a larger container to allow it more room to grow and develop.
Trellis: A frame or lattice that provides support for vining plants to grow vertically.
Determinate vs. Indeterminate: This terminology refers to the fruiting season of tomatoes and potatoes. Determinate plants develop one harvest of fruit in a narrow window. Indeterminate plants have an extended harvest season, setting fruit as long as conditions are favorable. Indeterminate tomatoes are typically vining and may require staking or other support.
Annual: A plant that lives for a single growing season and must be replaced annually.
Biennial: A plant that lives for two growing seasons, usually producing flowers and seeds in the second year of life.
Perennial: A plant that lives for multiple years. Some perennials are killed by cold weather and can only be grown as annuals in colder conditions.
Companion planting: Pairing up combinations of plants that thrive in one another’s company. These plants may provide shade or support, deter pests, or encourage more healthy growth in various ways.
Self-seed or self-sow: When a plant reseeds itself without any human intervention by dropping seed. These new plants are sometimes called volunteers.
Cover crop: A crop planted in between growing seasons to improve soil fertility or texture, prevent the growth of weeds and reduce erosion and runoff.
Short day: Usually referring to onions, this is a plant that is only able to mature and bloom in short periods of light and long periods of darkness. These onions are best grown in the Southern US regions due to the shorter daylight hours in summer.
Long day: Also used to describe onions, these plants require 14-16 hours of sunlight to develop bulbs and are best planted in Northern US regions that get longer days in summer.
Are there any other terms you think we should define? Let us know and we can add them to the list!