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  • Amaryllidaceae
    This plant family includes the genus Alluim, which contains such well-known culinary plants as onions, shallots, garlic, and leeks. These plants are mostly perennials, sporting bulbs and straight or tubular leaves. Plants like sandy or loamy soil and full sun. The edible members of the onion subfamily have a strong odor which can be helpful for repelling certain pesty insects.
  • Angular Leaf Spot
    The onset of this disease is categorized by angular spots on leaves bordered by leaf veins. Spots will turn brown and sport a yellow edge or halo. Prevalent in warm, humid environments, angular leaf spot is spread by bacterium from dead plant matter splashing up from the ground onto leaves when it rains. Mulching, covering in heavy rains, and the use of a drip irrigation system are recommended in these types of environments when trying to grow low-ground plants, such as cucumbers, melons, and squash.
  • Annual
    A plant that sprouts from seed, grows, and dies completely within one year (as distinguished from perennials and biennials). Such a life cycle may occur from spring to autumn or autumn to spring and can take anywhere from 1–12 months to complete. Some perennial and biennial plants are grown as annuals to focus plant production on the tastiest parts of the plant, while others are grown as annuals due to non-ideal growing situations in specific climate zones. It's easiest to grow annuals together in your garden since they require tilling and replanting each year.
  • Ant
    Ants can be beneficial in the garden, but some species are straight up pests. In particular, fire ants feed on germinating seeds and beneficial insects that guard your plants from harm. Other types of ants will nurse and herd aphid populations in order to feed off their sweet excretions: like a bug-sized dairy farm! To remove ant populations, pour boiling water in their nests or anthills. Diatomaceous earth and borax kills ants but may also harm those beneficial insects that you hold dear.
  • Anthracnose
    A broad term used to refer to (mostly) fungal diseases, anthracnose is recognized by lesions of atrophy on an otherwise healthy looking area of the foliage or woody growth of plants grown in a humid, warm environment. A pink or red border may develop on the edges of the lesion as time goes by. Some disease resistant root stocks and seeds of highly susceptible plants are available. Remove infected areas to avoid spread and rotate plants if necessary. This disease is also known as canker.
  • Aphid
    These small (1/4–1/16") insects are soft bodied and can be pale green, pink, black, red, or yellow in color. They cluster together in groups and are most commonly found on the underside of new leaves. Treatment includes removal by hand, spraying leaves with water to dislodge aphids, releasing beneficial insects that feed on aphids, or the use of sprays containing neem oil or insecticide soap/detergent.
  • Apiaceae
    This family of plants, containing over 3700 species, is known for hollow stems and umbel-shaped inflorescences. Species in this family include celery, parsley, dill, carrot, chervil, coriander (or cilantro), culantro, fennel, cumin, cicely, anise, asafoetida, caraway, lovage, and parsnips. The leaves, stems, taproots, and/or seeds of these species have culinary uses as herbs, spices, or vegetables. Most prefer cool-weather growing conditions. Flowers almost always have 5 petals, can be white, yellow, purple, or pink in color, and tend to be very attractive to beneficial insect pollinators.
  • Armyworm
    A type of caterpillar containing various species that love to feed on corn, beets, tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, onions, and peas. To prevent their growth and spread, remove grassy weeds, pigweed, plantain, and lamb’s quarters, which are host plants for armyworms.
  • Asteraceae
    One of the largest families (also commonly known as the "Sunflower" family) and is made up of over 20,000 different species of mostly herbs, shrubs, and veggies. The well-known members of this family include lettuce, artichokes, chicory, marigolds, burdock, and of course, sunflowers. Some weeds also call this family home, including ragweed and the infamous dandelion. Many Asteraceae members are characterized by their large tap roots and small clusters of flowers that often appear to be a single, large flower head. Species within this family tend to be most frequently found in dry locations, but with so many members, they have spread to most climate zones and can be found in most regions of the globe.
  • Bacterial Blight
    Partial to the bean family, this bacteria causes water-logged spots that start pale green and then turn brown. The spots can appear on leaves and pods and sometimes produce a pale yellowish ooze. Warm and wet environments favor the development of bacterial blight, and it can overwinter on dead plant material and come back in the spring (rude!). If present, remove and destroy infected plants. For preventative care, install a drip irrigation system to avoid wetting leaves and practice crop rotation.
  • Bacterial Spot
    A big fan of (harming) the nightshade family, this bacterial infection commonly shows up on peppers and tomatoes. Small and irregularly-shaped black spots will accumulate on leaf tops and cause yellowing and eventual death of the leaf. Defoliation will result in overall weakness in vigor and fruit production. Warm, wet weather encourages this disease. Prevent with drip irrigation, ample air circulation, and crop rotation when applicable.
  • Bacterial Wilt
    Bacterial wilt is a disease caused by E. tracheiphila that results in leaf drop, followed by plants turning brown and dying. This sad situation is caused by a buildup of bacteria in the internal pipes of the plant. Most plants in the squash family are susceptible except watermelons, which are immune. Bacterial wilt is spread by cucumber beetles and grasshoppers and is hard to stop once plants are infected. Your best line of defense is pest control. Remove and destroy infected plants.
  • BCTV
    Although the sugar beet was probably its original main squeeze, the BCT virus is now a player and tries to get with tomatoes, cucumbers, squashes, and other handsome plants whenever it can. This virus is transmitted via nymphs of the beet leafhopper. Within the first week, plants will display multiple symptoms of infection; wilting, deformation, vein swelling (with purple discoloration), and stunted growth. The good news is, BCTV is not genetically transferred from mama to baby, and only nymphs who feed on infected plants attain and spread the virus. Pest control is your best bet in fighting this amorous villain.
  • Beet Curly Top Virus
    Although the sugar beet was probably its original main squeeze, the BCT virus is now a player and tries to get with tomatoes, cucumbers, squashes, and other handsome plants whenever it can. This virus is transmitted via nymphs of the beet leafhopper. Within the first week, plants will display multiple symptoms of infection; wilting, deformation, vein swelling (with purple discoloration), and stunted growth. The good news is, BCTV is not genetically transferred from mama to baby, and only nymphs who feed on infected plants attain and spread the virus. Pest control is your best bet in fighting this amorous villain.
  • Beetle
    We all know this little (or scarily big) hard-shelled insect: it's in the order Coleoptera, and about 3/4 of all species live or feed on plants. Some types can be beneficial in gardens (like ladybugs, our most beloved grande dame of the beetle clan), but many others will damage crops and are considered pests. Different species will require various methods of control.
  • Bine
    Similar to a vine, a bine is a plant which needs some type of support system for its growth. Unlike a vine, however, bine plants don't use suckers, tendrils, or runners to grow vertically up a support. The stem of a bine plant will instead grow in a helix-type pattern, wrapping itself around a support system. Hops are a well-known example of a bine plant.
  • Bird
    Birds can be great helpers in the garden when they eat insects and weed seeds, but sometimes they get greedy for the good stuff. Fruit trees should be protected with netting, and ears of corn can be shielded by using a paper bag over each one. The ubiquitous scarecrow may work for a few days, but don’t expect to fool a hungry mama bird scoping a meal for her babies for long. Noisemakers and visual scares that move in the wind can also work, but just for a while.
  • Black speck
    Also called "pepper spot," this nonparasitic disorder affects cabbage plants and is widespread in the US and Europe. Usually found in the deep center of cabbage heads after storage, these black spots can reach 2mm in diameter. High levels of potassium in the soil have shown to reduce the severity of the disease. Some cabbage varieties have also been bred to resist black speck.
  • Blister
    A condition in which the skin of sweet potatoes becomes covered with small, dark, raised bumps. This usually occurs after sweet potatoes have been in storage for a few months post-harvest and is a symptom of either the presence of root-knot nematodes or a boron deficiency in your soil. An application of borax to the soil during planting can help prevent blistering.
  • Blister Beetle
    Blister beetles are long and narrow in shape and can be black, brown, striped, or metallic green. They love to feed on the leaves of tomatoes, potatoes, melons, carrots, cabbage, peas, squash and eggplants. However, the larvae are helpful in the garden because they eat grasshopper eggs. If populations get too large, hand pick adult beetles (wear gloves!) and drop in soapy water. Row covers will provide preventative care from infestations.
  • Blossom End Rot
    A plant disorder caused by calcium deficiency, uneven soil moisture, or extreme temperature fluctuations. It causes decaying, sunken spots at the end of the fruit furthest from the stem. Excessive nitrogen fertilizer may make symptoms worse by reducing calcium uptake. Foliar sprays containing calcium will help. For a long-term fix, get a soil test to ensure that the pH is between 6.5 and 6.8 and amend soils with crushed eggshells and lime or gypsum to add calcium if necessary. Watering regularly and using mulch will also help prevent this problem.
  • Brassicaceae
    Containing around 3200 species, this plant family contains tons of important edible crops like cabbage, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kohlrabi, mustard, turnips, radishes, bok choy, wasabi, horseradish, watercress, cress, arugula, nasturtium, collards, and rapeseed. Known collectively as cruciferous vegetables, many of these crops contain chemicals which may have anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties. Flowers are four-petaled and resemble a cross, thus giving them their nickname (in Latin, crucifer means "cross-bearer"). These plants tend to favor a cool growing season and are usually best when harvested after the first light frosts.
  • Breba
    A term for figs that develop on last year's shoots in the spring. This crop forms before the main harvest that grows from new shoots and matures in the late summer or fall. Because the main crop is usually superior in taste and texture, many gardeners will pick and discard breba crops to allow the plant to focus its energies on the later figs. However, some cultivars make a delicious breba crop that is edible. Brea crops can also become the "main crop" for fig growers in areas with cooler summers where main fig crops cannot ripen due to a shortened growing season and cold temps.
  • Buttoning
    Buttoning is a disorder that predominantly affects members of the Brassica family and stone fruits. It occurs when plants are put under stress from extreme cold or heat, lack of water, pest infestations, or too much competition for resources. Within the Brassica family, cauliflower and broccoli are particularly susceptible to buttoning, which manifests as the premature formation of heads on young plants. This early exposure can cause the heads to rot or become discolored. In stone fruit, buttoning can be identified by an increase in the number of small and misshapen fruits. To prevent buttoning, plants should be covered in incremental weather and planted with enough spacing to avoid competition for resources between plants.
  • Cabbage Looper
    You might know these little guys as inchworms. Cabbage loopers are actually small caterpillars with big appetites. They love to munch on broccoli, cabbage, kale, cauliflower, and collards. Planting early in the spring will prevent the worst infestations. After picking, immerse your harvest in salt water to remove any cabbage loopers along for the ride.
  • Caterpillar
    Caterpillars are the larvae of butterflies, moths, and other types of winged insects. These ravenous pests come in many shapes and colors and, although beautiful, can quickly decimate a crop of their choosing. Preventative care includes the use of row covers, which block mama-bugs from laying eggs in your plants. If your garden has already been invaded, caterpillars can be hand-picked and exterminated. Sprays containing toxins from Bacillus thuringiensis (BT)  are often used to control populations, but some caterpillars are resistant. Other organic pesticides include Spinosad, derived from a soil bacteria, and Pyrethrin, derived from the flowers of certain species of chrysanthemum.
  • Catfacing
    A disorder of the tomato, recognized by a puckered and distorted fruit shape along with bands of scar tissue across the end of the fruit. This occurs for several reasons but is mainly due to sporadic weather conditions interfering with pollination and fruit formation. Growth cracks can also appear if soil moisture is not maintained. These disorders are easily avoidable by implementing proper care techniques, such as covering plants in flowering or fruiting stages with netting to protect from intense heat or blankets for unexpected bouts of extreme cold. Water regularly at the soil level to retain even soil moisture.
  • Chaff
    The dry, inedible casing surrounding a seed/grain that needs to be removed via threshing and winnowing before the seed/grain can be consumed by humans.
  • Chenopodiaceae
    This family was recently incorporated as a subfamily under the Amaranth family based on new genetic information. It contains the following edible plants: beets, chard, quinoa, spinach, and lamb's quarters. Many types have developed a slightly different photosynthetic method known as C4 photosynthesis, which has helped them become adaptable to drought, heat, and intense sun. Still, many species generally prefer cooler weather and a temperate climate.
  • Chilling hours
    Many fruit trees, as well as some bulbs and seeds, require a certain period of cold weather in order to blossom, fruit, grow, or germinate. What counts as a "chill hour" may differ from gardener to gardener, but most equate one chill hour to an hour of time a plant spends in temperatures under 45°F but above freezing (32°F). Keep in mind that growing low chill varieties in cold weather and high chill varieties in warm weather will cause problems with blossoming and fruit production. For seeds and bulbs, you can usually mimic chill hours with a refrigerator.
  • Clone
    Produced by vegetative propagation, clones are plants derived from another plant without sexual reproduction (through pollination or seeds) and are thus genetically identical to their "mother" plant. This can be done through fragmenting the mother through techniques such as cutting or layering. A grafted plant, although technically produced through cloning, is generally not considered a clone. Some plants, such as apples and grapes, have been cloned from an original plant for 1000s of years.
  • Clubroot
    Clubroot specifically likes Brassicas (members of the cabbage family). This fungus is present in the soil and causes swelling and distortion of plant roots; then, it moves upwards and causes wilting, yellowing, and death. Clubroot enjoys an acidic soil, so if possible, raise the pH to above 6.8. Crop rotation is absolutely necessary to suppress the proliferation of the fungus present in soil.
  • CO2 Damage
    A classic example of "too much of a good thing." In controlled growing situations, like greenhouses, plants can benefit from boosted CO2 levels, but that also means they'll need more of other substances, like water and nitrogen. Also, it has been shown that plants grown with high CO2 levels are more susceptible to attack by insects. It can also cause reductions in photosynthesis and may lower nutritional quality of staple crops, like wheat. So, we recommend checking on indoor-grown plants regularly for any CO2 damage that may arise.
  • Coco coir
    A fiber extracted from the husk of coconuts used in floor mats, brushes, mattresses, and horticulture. High in sodium and potassium, coir is treated before distribution as a growing medium for plants by soaking it in a calcium buffering solution. Coco coir is frequently used as a substitute for sphagnum moss due to it being free of bacteria and fungal spores. It’s also a great snail deterrent and, when combined with vermiculite, can be used to grow mushrooms. It's often seen used in hanging baskets.
  • Colombian Datura Virus
    Species of the nightshade family (Solanaceae) are specific targets for this virus. This can be devastating to crops such as potatoes and tomatoes, especially when confined in a space such as a greenhouse. CDV is mainly transmitted through green peach aphids or grafting with infected plant parts. Symptoms include mosaic-flecking and mottling followed by shriveling and death of leaves, vein-banding, stunted growth, and fruit and flower discoloration. Remove and destroy infected plants, and sanitize or remediate soil.
  • Convolvulaceae
    This family contains a variety of trees, vines, herbs, and shrubs which are sometimes considered ornamental or weedy. Several edible species are consumed for their starchy roots or leaves, including sweet potato, yams, and water spinach. Flowers are funnel shaped and five petaled and stems are winding, giving rise to the name from the Latin word convolvere, which means "to wind."
  • Corm
    A type of bulb, corms are made up of solid tissue that stores nutrients. "True bulbs" are made up of modified leaves and thus possess a series of rings when cut open; instead, corms are solid in color with consistent texture throughout. Commonly known plants that grow from corms are gladiolus, crocus, and bananas.
  • Cover crop
    Plants cultivated to improve soil and water conditions and/or control soil erosion, weeds, pests, and diseases. Planting cover crops is a sustainable way to re-invigorate your soil without the use of additives and retain a balance with your farm or garden and the natural biodiversity of your land. Crops planted to increase fertility are sometimes called “green manure” and are planted, grown, then tilled into the soil before reaching maturity. Popular types of green manure include beans, lentils, lupine, and alfalfa.
  • Cucumber Beetle
    This is the common name for beetles in the Diabrotica and Acalymma genera. To prevent damage, start plants under row covers, removing later in the season to allow pollinating insects or pollinate flowers by hand. These insects spread diseases including bacterial wilt and cucumber mosaic virus.
  • Cucurbitaceae
    This plant family contains about 1000 species, many of which originate in or prefer a tropical to subtropical climate and thus don't like frost very much. Well-known members include squashes, pumpkins, gourds, watermelon, honeydew, cantaloupe, cucumber, and the luffa plant. This is one of the most popular plant families grown by humans, with almost all species cultivated for food. Flowers are often large, yellow or white in color, and differentiated as either male or female. Some species have both types of flower on one plant, while others have separate male and female plants. Stems are often hairy and have tendrils growing from the nodes, which allows many of these plants to climb as vines.
  • Cutworm
    These caterpillars attack the seedlings of most types of plants, usually cutting the whole plant down near its base. They hide under soil debris during the day and feed at night. Protect seedlings by using a small cardboard or plastic collar around the stem of young plants.
  • Damping-off
    Many types of soil-borne fungi cause this disease. Your garden has been infected by damping-off if you see seeds rot before germination or seedlings rotting and falling over at the soil level. Ensure proper drainage and adequate warmth during germination and add compost to the soil to lessen the losses associated with this disease.
  • Deadhead
    No, not fans of the Grateful Dead. In gardening, this is the removal of flower heads from a plant before the seeds are fully mature. This is done to prevent plants from spreading their seeds. It will also keep plants producing flowers longer.
  • Determinate
    Determinate tomatoes, also called bush tomatoes, are a subset of the plant which is characterized by its compact size. These plants don't necessarily need support, but a tomato cage will keep vines and fruit off the ground. Plants will usually reach 3--6 feet tall and don't like getting pruned. Plants produce and ripen all their fruit in a short time period of a few weeks, so you'd better be ready to get preserving! This type is best for growing in containers and/or climates with short growing seasons. Many of these plants are hybrids, but you can find a handful of heirloom determinate varieties.
  • Dioecious
    From a Greek word meaning "two households," dioecious species are those that have distinct male and female organisms (like humans). For gardeners, it's important to know if your edible plants are dioecious since male and female reproductive structures will appear on separate plants and will only produce fruit if both sexes of plants are grown near each other. Although most garden plants are monoecious, meaning only one plant is sufficient to produce fruit, plants such as persimmon and pistachio need a "garden lover" to make their delicious harvests. Others, like spinach and asparagus, are technically dioecious, but since they're grown for foliage and not fruits, you'll only need to grow two (or more) if interested in seed saving techniques.
  • Downy Mildew
    This fungal disease affects many types of plants, mostly in moist, humid conditions. Symptoms include yellow areas on leaves, followed by brown to purple mold growth on the undersides of leaves. It's spread by wind, rain, and the use of infected seeds and can survive for up to three years in the soil. To control and prevent, plant disease-free seeds and plants, practice crop rotation, avoid handling wet plants, and remove and destroy infected plant material. Drip irrigation and spacing plants to allow for adequate air flow will help prevent infection. Also try using sprays of bicarbonate.
  • Earwig
    For the most part, yucky little earwigs are actually helpful in gardens, cleaning up decaying organic matter and eating other insects. So there’s no need to worry about them unless you notice them causing real damage. They can sometimes be found feeding on leaves, flowers, and fruit of crops including lettuce, corn, peppers, and celery, especially during cool, wet weather. Look for ragged foliage and misshapen flowers and fruit. Damage is usually not too serious for the plant and will pass when weather becomes drier.
  • Endemic
    Plants that are native to an area. Example: peppercorns are thought to have originated in Southern India and are thus considered endemic to this area.
  • Fabaceae
    This plant family has been useful for humans for thousands of years, containing many important food crops such as beans, peanuts, lentils, chickpeas, soybeans, alfalfa, carob, and liquorice. Some species are used in the garden as helpful cover crops, protecting your soil from erosion while simultaneously fixing nitrogen from the air through a symbiotic relationship with Rhizobia bacteria. In general, the 18,000+ species in this large family prefer to grow in tropical locations with plenty of sun and well-drained, neutral pH soils. They can grow as trees, shrubs, or vines, have either annual or perennial life cycles, and are easily recognizable by their seed pods and compound leaves.
  • Fly
    Many different flies cause problems in the garden. Some attack root crops, including carrots, during their larval phase as maggots, while others, like the ubiquitous fruit fly, are full-grown adults when they decide to much on your plants. In some climates, you can time your plantings so that your crop isn’t edible when the flies are seeking it out. You can also try finding resistant plants, keeping the soil at the base of plants covered, or using trap crops to distract fly populations.
  • Fusarium wilt
    A common fungal disease that attacks the vascular system, Fusarium wilt is a common foe to tomatoes, tobacco, legumes, cucurbits, sweet potatoes, and bananas. This disease usually causes drooping and yellowing of leaves, stunted growth, defoliation, marginal necrosis (browning of leaf edges), and death. As a soil-borne pathogen, it can live in soils for long periods of time (making rotational cropping ineffective against control) and is spread through infected plant matter. Make sure your soil is well-draining with no standing or stagnant water and destroy infected organic matter (do NOT compost!) to contain and avoid Fusarium wilt in your garden. We recommend choosing wilt-resistant varietals and cultivars if growing in hot, wet climates.
  • Grafting
    A type of asexual plant propagation where tissues from two plants are joined. Normally, the rootstock host and upper plant graft are selected for their respective beneficial characteristics. More than one type of plant can be grafted onto the same root stock, with the advantage of harvesting different crops in a smaller space.
  • Grasshopper
    Grasshoppers can consume as much as one-half of their body weight each day. They cause damage by chewing on the leaves and stems of plants. Management can be accomplished through direct removal, protection of crops using row covers, or by attracting predatory insects like wasps that will keep the grasshoppers out.
  • Green Manure
    Plant cuttings or trimmings that are left in the field/garden to decompose and add nutrients back into the soil. Many cover crops act as green manure, with gardeners plowing them back into the dirt prior to the growing season. Green manure can also act as a mulch to suppress weeds and keep soil moist. Crops such as alfalfa and barley make excellent green manure cover crops if you are looking to restore some health to your soil.
  • Gummy Stem Blight
    Also sometimes referred to as Black Rot, this fungal disease affects plants in the curcurbit family, such as watermelon, cantaloupe, cucumber, pumpkin, and squash. Infection causes lesions on leaves and brown/black cankers or water-soaked spots on fruit and stems which release a gummy brown ooze. Control and prevent by using treated seed, practicing crop rotation, and removing or destroying diseased plant parts and debris.
  • HID
    An abbreviation for High Intensity Discharge light bulbs. These includes Metal Halide (MH) and High Pressure Sodium (HPS) growing lamps. These lights produce more light (and heat!) than other types of bulbs.
  • Humus
    A component often found in soil, humus is a dark brown, nutrient-rich mix of organic material created when leaf and animal matter decomposes. This mix is usually turned into the soil by earthworms where it adds nutrients and keeps soil form compacting. Humus is created naturally in the wild as well as through backyard composting.
  • Hybrid
    "Hybrid" is a term used to describe a plant variety resulting from the breeding of two different species, subspecies, or varieties of a plant. This can create advantages in hybrids by making them stronger, more adaptable, and/or easier to grow than their parents; this is referred to as hybrid vigor. Hybrids can also exhibit disease resistance or improvements in size, taste, or color. Note that seeds grown from hybrid plants will not produce the same characteristics as their parent. Hybridization can occur naturally (through cross-pollination) or through human intervention. "F1" means that it's a first generation hybrid.
  • Hypha
    The tubular, branch-like strands that make up fungi's mycelium structure.
  • Indeterminate
    Indeterminate tomatoes, also called vining or climbing tomatoes, are a subset of the plant which is characterized by its continuous growth pattern. This large plant requires trellising or support of some kind and loves getting pruned. Plants will set fruit throughout their lifecycle until killed by frost. You'll get less fruit at the beginning compared to a determinate type but possibly more per plant if your growing season is long. Not the best for containers, many heirloom tomato varieties fall under this category.
  • Intercropping
    Often used in permaculture and similar to companion planting, intercropping is a practice used in farming and gardening that involves planting multiple crops together in close proximity in order to maximize yields. Intercropping is either done by mixing plants together in a plot of space or by alternating rows of different types of plants. One of the most commonly known types of intercropping is that of the "Three Sisters" which involves planting squash, beans, and corn in the same plot. The corn provides a stable post for the beans to grow up and provides shade for the squash, while the beans fix nitrogen for the other plants. The planting of tap root crops with crops with shallow root systems is another commonly practiced form of intercropping as the two types of root systems will pull nutrients from different levels of the soil, meaning less competition for nutrients.
  • Iris Yellow Spot Virus
    Onion and garlic are popular host plants for this particular virus, although other plants can be affected. You know your crop's infected when you see yellow/straw-like lesions on shoots and stalks along with the presence of thrips. IYSV can attack tuber and fruit/vegetable growth, causing stunting and deformity. Keeping an eye on thrips population, soil fertility, and soil moisture will help reduce the chances of this virus causing your garden harm.
  • IYSV
    Onion and garlic are popular host plants for this particular virus, although other plants can be affected. You know your crop's infected when you see yellow/straw-like lesions on shoots and stalks along with the presence of thrips. IYSV can attack tuber and fruit/vegetable growth, causing stunting and deformity. Keeping an eye on thrips population, soil fertility, and soil moisture will help reduce the chances of this virus causing your garden harm.
  • Lamiaceae
    Containing between 6900 and 7600 species, this plant family includes many well-known herbs like mint, basil, rosemary, sage, marjoram, oregano, thyme, lavender, chia, lemon balm, hyssop, and perilla. This family also includes the teak tree and other perennial shrubs, trees, and vines. Plants grow easily from stem cuttings, making it a popular family for cultivation. Flowers usually have fused petals that resemble an upper and lower lip. Leaves are mostly arranged oppositely, growing off the stem in pairs at right angles to the last pair.
  • Layering
    A type of vegetative propagation in which stems are encouraged to root while still attached to the parent plant. This method has high rates of success as new plants can still receive sustenance from the original plant while forming their own roots. Different methods are tip layering (tip of a branch is curved down and buried), compound layering (alternating sections of a flexible stem are buried), mound or stool layering (plant is pruned in fall and soil is mounded over new shoots in spring), and air layering (surround an upright stem with growing media).
  • Leaf Blister
    Leaf blister, sometimes referred to as leaf curl, is recognized by a raising or “blistering” of the leaves that causes them to curl. The disease is usually onset and encouraged by a cold rain. This fungus specifically likes to attack peach, oak, and almond trees. Your best bet is to opt for a resistant cultivar; if one is not available, make sure to create proper spacing and air flow for your plants. A natural Trichoderma mix, a fungi which eats the parasitizing fungi, can be applied to damaged areas.
  • Leaf Miner
    This garden pest refers to the larva of different types of insects, such as moths, beetles, and flies, that feed off the inside of leaves and leave patterns of destruction as they mature towards adulthood. They're sometimes classified by such patterns, such as serpentine, blotch, and teniform (bloating a section of the leaf like a tent). Although ugly, these mines don't usually cause major health issues for plants. If infestations occur, either pick off and destroy affected leaves or watch for the presence of eggs, which you can crush by hand.
  • Leaf Spot
    Many fungal species contribute to leaf spots which, when grown together, become blight. Leaf spots have a defined border and can be up to ½” in diameter. Remove damaged plant matter and tidy up the garden around infected plants. This disease is easily controlled when caught early. We recommend using a bicarbonate spray for particularly bad cases.
  • Malvaceae
    The Malvaceae Family, or the mallows, contains 4300 varieties of flowering plants and includes okra, cotton, hibiscus, durian, and cacao. Although there are some trees in this family, most of the members of this group are herbs or shrubs. Leaves and stems are commonly hairy, and flowers are usually star-shaped, or "radially" symmetrical, sporting 5 petals and stamens. Plants in the mallow family are usually found in the tropics and thrive in hotter, more humid environments.
  • Mammal
    Coming in all shapes, sizes, and levels of cuteness, these hungry (and sometimes large) pests can be kept out best using fencing—electrified or not—or other physical barriers. Baffles around trunks of fruit trees will help keep out squirrels and other rodents, but these tricky animals will repeatedly try their best to outsmart you. Eliminate nesting habitats and food sources in your yard. You may have to resort to live trapping and relocating the peskiest of mammals. Predator urine, underground cages, and burying oyster shells or coarse gravel around susceptible plants can also help, especially with sneaky subterranean dwellers.
  • Mealybug
    These pests feed on plant juices in moist, warm climates found in greenhouses, southern US states, and subtropical regions. They can be winged or wingless and secrete a powdery layer to protect them while sucking juice from roots or fruit. Mealybugs love to attack mango, citrus, sugarcane, grape, pineapple, coffee, cassava, sunflowers, and papaya. They're often protected by ant colonies, so use diatomaceous earth if you see a double infestation. Mealybugs can also be treated through the incorporation of ladybird larvae, which feed on mealybugs, or sprays of homemade dilutions of soap.
  • Mineral Wool
    Mineral wool is a man-made fiber made by spinning glass, ceramic, or molten minerals (rock or sand) at high temperatures. It results in a fibrous, porous material used as a growing media in hydroponic systems. Benefits include ease of use and efficient capabilities of holding water and air for root support. It is, however, hard to dispose of, and the dust from the fibers is unhealthy if inhaled. The pH of mineral wool is naturally high, so growers will need to monitor pH in order to maintain a healthy range specific for each plant grown with this medium.
  • Mite
    Spider mites and russet mites are the biggest arachnid problems for garden plants. Prevention is the best approach with these guys! Hot and dry conditions encourage their spread, so keep your plants well watered and provide some shade if it’s warm. For small populations, spray them off your plants with a strong jet of water. You can also try using an organic foliar spray designed to target them. Sulfur is known to help get rid of russet mites, and you can even procure predatory mites that love to feed on both kinds.
  • Moisture Imbalance
    Long periods of drought will cause wilting and stunted growth along with decreased flower production, resulting in a lower yield of fruits and veggies. On the other hand, too much water will drown the plant, as roots need to be able to breath. "Wet feet" can result in root decay and offer opportunity for disease.
  • Mold
    A common disease caused by a mold is botrytis. This fungus specifically likes to attack flowers and fruits but will first infect dead parts of the plant. Botrytis is identifiable by its fluffy appearance and looks a lot like bread mold. Make sure to remove infected, dead parts of plants ASAP after diagnosis. Also, decreasing moisture and increasing airflow by pruning and/or deadheading reduces botrytis’ damaging effects.
  • Mosaic Virus
    These plant viruses cause plants to turn yellow and speckled and stunt plant growth. Different species affect crops including beets, cucumber, squash, zucchini, tomato, peppers, alfalfa, stone fruits, and cassava. They are spread by aphids, so practice pest control and remove infected plants. Crop rotation is also helpful as a preventative measure.
  • Mycelium
    Mycelium is the vegetative structure of a fungus and is made up of thin, tube-like structures called hyphae that grow under or on top of the soil in a net-like pattern. If allowed to grow unhindered, mycelium can grow to breathtaking sizes. The largest known mycelium to-date is located in Michigan and covers the equivalent of about 40 acres just under the soil surface.  The mycellium is responsible for collecting nutrients to produce hyphae and fruiting bodies (mushrooms!), which release spores that will develop into new mycelium.
  • Naturalize
    When a plant that is not originally from a region becomes established in that area and is thus considered a "natural" part of the region's local flora. Invasive plants are a common example of naturalized plants; however, not all plants need to be invasive (i.e., crowding out other, endemic plants) to be considered naturalized.
  • Nematode
    Also called roundworms, nematodes are a big issue in warm climates. Root-knot nematodes cause small, round lumps on the roots of a crop. Other types, although hard to see, cause plants to wilt and/or yellow and grow more slowly than you’d expect. Maintaining healthy, rich soil is one way to keep them out, so we recommend implementing cover crop rotation. Marigolds also come in handy, since they contain a chemical that deters root-knot nematodes. Plant resistant varieties or use the power of the sun to solarize your garden area under a sheet of plastic.
  • Node
    The part of a plant's stem where a leaf, branch, or aerial root emerges. All plants have many nodes and are helpful guides for pruning and/or vegetative propagation.
  • Nutrient Film Technique
    A hydroponic technique in which nutrients are added to a stream of water which is pumped into a sloped channel in which the plant's roots hang. While the bottom of the roots will be immersed in the nutrient flow, the top of the roots should remain suspended in the air. The most important factors in this type of system are the angle of the slope of the channel, the pace of the water flow, the concentration of nutrients, and the length of the channel. This system generally works best for plants that are light (don't need a lot of support) and grow quickly.
  • Open Pollinated
    When plants can be pollinated by birds, wind, insects or other natural means, they are considered open pollinated. As the pollination process is not controlled, it's possible that the resulting plants won't be true replicas of the parent plant. This can result in unwanted varieties but also has the potential to increase biodiversity and improve a plant in unexpected ways. The seeds of these types of plants can be saved as long as they're the same species; however, if open pollination occurs between different species, any resulting seeds will not be viable. All heirloom plants are open pollinated plants.
  • Ozone Damage
    If you can confirm the presence of ozone as a pollutant in your area, try to avoid planting ozone-sensitive plants such as grapes, citrus, and conifers. Symptoms range from tip burn to foliage loss and can only be remedied by relocation.
  • Perennial
    From the latin per, meaning “through,” and annual, meaning “year,” perennial plants are ones that live for more than two years (as distinguished from annuals and biennials). These plants usually grow and flower in the spring and summer and die back or go dormant in the fall and winter. Many perennials are grown as annuals in more temperate climates (such as the tomato, which is technically a perennial in tropical regions). It's always a good idea to plant perennials together in your garden since they won't be replanted the next year.
  • Phytophthora
    This disease, whose name means "plant destroyer" in Greek, is a host-specific parasite that can do massive damage to cultivated plant populations. A species of phytophthera actually caused the Great Potato Famine in Ireland in the 19th century and preys on tomato and potato crops today. Other species infect different plants and are generally difficult to control. The major management strategy against this disease is through cultivating disease-resistant cultivars.
  • Poaceae
    This plant family contains what we call the true grasses and includes wheat, barley, oats, rice, millet, bamboo, and corn. One of the largest plant families, it contains over 10,000 species. Grasses can be perennial or annual and can be categorized as preferring either cool or warm growing seasons. The domestication and breeding of these species were pivotal for the foundation and spread of human civilization. Species grown now provide food, shelter, fuel, paper, and beer.
  • Polygonaceae
    This plant family contains close to 1200 species, including the edibles buckwheat, rhubarb, and sorrel. Other species are grown for their use as ornamental plants or even for lumber. Many types are perennials that prefer to grow in more temperate climates. The name is derived from Greek, meaning "many joints," and refers to the nodes which form along stems. This plant family also contains some wildflowers as well as bothersome weeds.
  • Powdery Mildew
    This fungal disease affects many types of plants and can occur in cool, humid climates, hot, dry climates, and all in between. Late summer, with hot days and cool nights, is a particularly popular time for powdery mildew to spread. Generally easy to identify, the primary symptom of an infection is grey or white spots on leaves and other plant parts. Remove areas of the plant that are infected to reduce spread. Increasing space between plants will allow more air circulation and help prevent this problem. Foliar sprays of diluted milk or bicarbonate have also proven to be effective.
  • Pulse
    Sometimes referred to as a “grain legume,” pulses are nutrient-rich "seeds" that include dry beans (pinto, kidney, navy), dry peas, and lentils. The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization uses this term to designate crops harvested for their dry seeds only. They contain protein, carbohydrates, and vitamins/minerals without cholesterol and with little fat or sodium.
  • Rhizobia
    The bacteria found in soil that "fix" nitrogen when they settle inside the nodes of legume roots. Rhizobia are most likely present in areas where legumes have grown for two or more years, while areas without legumes may be lacking. To test for rhizobia, plant two different legumes and fertilize one with nitrogen. If the node development on both plants is the same, rhizobia are present. If the non-fertilized legume does not produce as many nodes as the fertilized plant, you likely will need to inoculate your soil by hand with the appropriate rhizobia.
  • Root Rot
    Poor drainage and overwatering are two of the most common reasons for the onset of this disease. These mistakes, common when growing indoor plants, lead to root decay, and as they drown and cannot breath, mold takes hold. Root rot is spreadable by spores in soil, so removal of nearby plants with root rot is advised. Follow proper watering instructions and ensure drainage to avoid this malady.
  • Rust
    Rusts like to attack healthy plants in order to steal nutrients from living cells. They are recognized by characteristic brown, black, or orange leaf spots and/or a powdery rust-colored coating on the undersides of foliage. If left untreated, rusts can cause a systemic infection returning yearly on perennial plants resulting in stunted or abnormal growth and chlorosis (a yellow discoloration). A diluted neem oil solution will help prevent spread by smothering present spores.
  • Salt Damage
    Salt from sources such as animal urine, sea spray, and road salt can damage plants and cause overall weakness and altered growth. Check pet or wildlife patterns or plant crops in a place protected from wind and runoff if this seems to be an issue.
  • Scab
    This disease likes to infect tubers and large fruits, such as potatoes and apples, which will display warty, crustaceous, raised, cracked, and scabby growth. Several types of fungi and bacteria cause scabs. Sulfur is often used as a remedy: applications of this amendment lower the pH of the soil and create a less-than-hospitable environment for the little buggers.
  • Scoville
    A scale developed by the pharmacist William Scoville to rank peppers in terms of their spiciness/heat. The units used for this scale are known as Scoville Heat Units (SHU) and range from 0 (common bell peppers) to 2,200,000 (Caroline Reaper chili pepper, the current world record holder of heat).
  • Sepal
    A sepal is the sturdy, leaf-like structure that surrounds a bud before it blooms and supports the petals once the flower has opened. Frequently green in color. Collectively, sepals are known as a calyx.
  • Slug
    Slugs are shell-less molluscs that hunger for leafy greens. They’ll eat large holes in leaves and fruit, leaving behind their tell-tale shiny paths of slime. Keep your plants well-spaced and leaves dry to prevent takeover. A circle of crushed eggshells or diatomaceous earth around the base of a plant can also keep them away, and handpick any that you find feeding. Some gardeners swear by a shallow tray filled with beer as a trap which they fall into and drown. Hopefully they get drunk first.
  • Smut
    Smut: as dirty as it sounds. This potentially ultra-devastating disease causes the swelling and formation of fungal-like galls (EWW) that contain billions of spores that rupture (UGH) and then spread or hide in soil until next season (WTF). Corn smut is common and quite a nasty one. Remove galls right when you see them and destroy. Never thought you'd be a plant doctor, did you?
  • Snail
    Snails are molluscs that hunger for leafy greens. They’ll eat large holes in leaves and fruit, leaving behind their tell-tale shiny paths of slime. Keep your plants well-spaced and leaves dry to prevent takeover. A circle of crushed eggshells or diatomaceous earth around the base of a plant can also keep them away, and handpick any that you find feeding. Some gardeners swear by a shallow tray filled with beer as a trap which they fall into and drown. Hopefully they get drunk first.
  • Solanaceae
    This plant family contains around 2700 species and includes eggplant, tomato, potato, tomatillo, tobacco, goji berry, and sweet and hot peppers. There's a wide range of diversity in this family, with plants grown as either annuals or perennials that take the form of vines, shrubs, or trees. This family is (in)famous for producing alkaloid chemicals, such as nicotine and capsaicin, which are designed to protect them from attacks from insects and other predators. The ones we eat have been bred for a more balanced content of these chemicals in the edible portions of the plant, so don't fret.
  • Squash Bug
    Although varying in size and shape, most squash bugs in the US have oval-shaped bodies and antennae with four segments. To prevent damage, start plants under row covers, removing later in the season to allow pollinating insects, or you can pollinate flowers by hand. Check undersides of leaves regularly for small copper-colored eggs and remove by hand. Mature insects and nymphs can be caught and dropped into soapy water.
  • Squash Vine Borer
    The adults of these little pests are often mistaken for wasps, but in fact they are a type of moth that lays eggs at the base of leaf stalks. Their larvae can chew right through your precious plants! To prevent damage, start plants under row covers, removing later in the season to allow pollinating insects, or you can pollinate flowers by hand. The moths are drawn to yellow colors, so you can try using yellow bowls filled with water as traps in which they will drown. If you discover a hole where a borer larvae has entered your plant, you can try to carefully remove the borer and cover the section of stem with soil, allowing the plant to grow new roots.
  • Stratify
    This is basically a process to trick your seeds into thinking they've lived through the same wintry conditions that they're used to before germination time begins in the spring. Different plants are adjusted to different stratification times and temperatures, but generally one or two months at 34–41°F should do it. Simply place seeds in a lightly moist—not too wet!—soilless media (anything from peat moss to paper towels) in an airtight container in your fridge. Most plants which require this are perennials, such as fruit trees.
  • Termite
    You're probably familiar with these pesky little insects that love to feed on dead plant material such as wood, leaf litter, soil, or manure. Although extremely important for world ecosystems in breaking down nutrients in tropical and subtropical forests, termites can wreck havoc on your crops, fences, and sheds. They live in colonies and can be undetectable due to burrowing deep into wooden walls. Scientists are currently looking at natural toxic resins secreted by hardwood trees as a defense against termites, which would rather starve than consume such unappetizing flavors.  
  • Three Sisters
    The Three Sisters is a name for the group of three main crops grown by Native Americans: corn, squash, and beans. Commonly used in companion planting, each plant provides benefits for one another. Corn provides a trellis for climbing beans. Beans fix nitrogen into the soil. Squash leaves shade the soil to retain soil moisture, provide a cool microclimate, and suppress weeds. Additionally, the combination of corn and beans together in the diet provide a full spectrum of necessary amino acids.
  • Thresh
    The process of removing grain or seed from its inedible casing (chaff). While larger scale operations use machinery to perform this task, it can also be done by hand. Place stalks or pods in a pillowcase and beat with a stick, flipping the pillowcase periodically. Winnow the contents of the pillowcase to remove the chaff from the mix, leaving only the seeds/grains.
  • Thrip
    Thrips are minuscule little pests, but that doesn’t mean that the damage they cause is always small. Not all thrips are bad, but the ones that are can cause black speckles—or small scars—on your plants or deformations in new growth. Traps of yellow sticky paper are effective against these no-see-ums: you’ll know you’re catching them if you find the paper covered in a white dustlike substance—the bodies of your pesky garden vegetarians.
  • Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus
    Spread by thrips, the TSW virus is a threat to more than just tomatoes, wreaking havoc on a thousand different plant species–even weeds! Symptoms include stunted growth, yellowing and necrotic rings on leaves, and reduced/deformed fruit yield with discoloration. Some resistant strains of plants have been developed, but integrated preventative care is the most effective way to protect your green babies. Crop rotation and proper tillage, along with a balance of insect populations, will help you avoid drastic losses. It may be a good idea to keep a log, documented disease history on specific plots, if TSWV becomes a problem in a garden near you.
  • True Bug
    The true bugs include a whole range of crop pests such as aphids, leafhoppers, Harlequin bugs, squash bugs, stink bugs, whitefly, scale, mealybug and more. Many of these can be kept under control by cleaning up debris from the garden area, encouraging predatory insects like ladybugs and parasitic wasps, or spraying visible infestations with a strong blast of water or a diluted neem oil spray.
  • TSWV
    Spread by thrips, the TSW virus is a threat to more than just tomatoes, wreaking havoc on a thousand different plant species–even weeds! Symptoms include stunted growth, yellowing and necrotic rings on leaves, and reduced/deformed fruit yield with discoloration. Some resistant strains of plants have been developed, but integrated preventative care is the most effective way to protect your green babies. Crop rotation and proper tillage, along with a balance of insect populations, will help you avoid drastic losses. It may be a good idea to keep a log, documented disease history on specific plots, if TSWV becomes a problem in a garden near you.
  • Tuber
    A tuber is a thickened stem or rhizome used by a plant to store nutrients and for a-sexual reproduction. Some well-known tubers are potatoes and Jerusalem artichokes. Although plants such as the cassava or sweet potato are similar to the potato or Jerusaleum artichoke in appearance, they're technically not "true" tubers as their enlarged storage structure is actually considered a root, which classifies them as a "tuberous root" or "root tuber" instead.
  • Umbel
    The term for an inflorescence, or group of multiple flowers, that's shaped kinda like an upside-down umbrella. Stalks arise from a central point and are all the same length. Mostly seen in plants of the Apiaceae and Umbelliferae families, such as celery, carrot, and parsley.
  • Variegated
    This term most often refers to plants whose leaves are more than one color, making them a popular addition to ornamental gardens as they tend to break up blocks of color with their varied hues. Many variegated plant leaves, like the Red Leaf Amaranth, tend to be exhibit one color towards the center of the leaf and change hues towards the edges; however, this is not always the case. The term variegated may also apply to the fruit of a plant that has multiple colors such as the Sungold Lemon.
  • Weevil
    Weevils are a type of beetle that attack many different type of crops, from cucumbers to fruit trees. Many of these insects eat plant matter during some phase of their lives, meaning they can be a real danger in the garden. Handpick and drop in a bucket of soapy water or spray with diluted soapy water to kill the ones you catch feasting. Row covers and a thick layer of mulch can also be helpful to keep them at bay. Some plant varieties are resistant to attack and are a great choice for the busy or novice gardener.
  • Whitefly
    The whitefly is not actually a fly but instead a tiny true bug. Will affect tomato, cucumber, lettuce, and other crops, causing leaves to yellow and wilt. Remove affected leaves, hang yellow sticky traps, use row covers, and encourage or add predatory insects, including parasitic wasps.
  • Winnow
    The process of removing chaff from the seed/grain after threshing by pouring the seed/grain from one container to another while blowing air through the mix. Can be done outdoors when there is a good breeze or by using a fan.
  • Zingiberaceae
    Over 1300 species make up this mostly tropical plant family. Many of these plants are used as medicinal or culinary herbs and spices as well as ornamentals. Ginger, turmeric, and cardamom and examples of the most well-known spices derived from these plants. Considered aromatic and perennial, plants grow underground rhizomes from which they will sprout anew each year.