Alliaceae: A monocot family that includes edible plants such as onions, chives, leeks and garlic.
B is for
Beet Reporting: The method acting of journalism, Beet Reporters dig deep into the essence of a story right at the root of the issue being researched. It is the craft of in-depth reporting on a specialized topic, sector, organization, vegetable, fruit, plant, farmer, farm, chef, or restaurant over time. Beet reporters build up a strong knowledge of a topic through experiential learning and conversation, completely immersing themselves in the subject matter before harvesting insight and providing commentary to their readers.
Biochar: A product of burning biomass like wood or even bones etc at such high temperatures that it reduces the material down to a stable carbon state. It can be used in cooking or heating just like charcoal, but adding it to soil increases fertility, water retention and nutrient retention.
Bolting: When a plant focuses its energy on producing a stalk that eventually flowers and develops seeds. One example is after a mustard green transfers its energy from producing mustard leaves to producing a stalk that flowers and contains the new seeds.
C is for
The Captain: Jack Algiere, Four-Season Farm Manager at Stone Barns and our fearless leader.
Cotyledons: First leaves that develop from a seed in the pre-germination stage. These are like the periscopes that check out the surrounding area before the seed germinates and the true leaves of the plant start to grow.
Cross-Pollination: The transfer of pollen from a male's anther to a female's stigma found on two different plants. This differs from self-pollination which transfers pollen from a male and female of the same plant.
Cubing: A 9am - 5pm office job sitting in a 3 walled cubical. If you could only get one more wall and maybe some kind of a roof or tarp.
Cucurbit family (Cucurbitaceae): The plant family including squash, pumpkin, melon, watermelon, cucumber, gourds to name most. Common characteristics include tendrils and male and female flowers on the same plant.
D is for
Direct Seeding: Sowing a seed into the ground opposed to in a pot or soil block where it will germinate and eventually be transplanted into the ground. For many plants, this can increase the success rate as it allows the seed to avoid competition from weeds or being eaten.
F is for
Floricane: The second year berry canes are the fruit bearers. They produce flowers, berries and then die off, sad but true. Luckily new primocanes will already be sprouting up to continue the cycle.
H is for
Heirloom: Although there is no official farming definition for what qualifies as an "heirloom" variety, Webster tries to sum it up as "a horticultural variety that has survived for several generations usually due to the efforts of private individuals." This is a nice general definition as the more farmers you talk to, the more specific the parameters get to truly define an heirloom. Nevertheless, the common theme among all definitions is the stability of gene expression; the seed can be saved and seeded over and over again producing the same plant. This is different than a hybrid which has a variety of genetics from both parents that can still be expressed.
Hybrid: The first few generations of plant breeding where it is rare to receive the same set of characteristics once the plant is seeded since both parents genes can be expressed. By replanting a hybrid seed you will not necessarily get the same plant as you would if you planted an heirloom seed.
I is for
Inoculate: The process of injecting something for the purpose of growth and reproduction once inside. Mushroom production from wood logs or vaccinations are two good examples of this process as one reproduces inside the wood while the other reproduces inside the human body.
M is forMulching: The process of insulating the soil bed in order to surpress erosion, weed development and spread of disease, to add nutrients or to maintain soil temperatures like a blanket as with garlic plants growing through the winter. Mulching is also good for reducing the negative effects of molding from splashing rainfall. Tomatoes are a good example of this.
P is forPerfect Flower: A flower that contains both male (stamen) and female (pistil) reproductive organs such as strawberries, peas and roses. An imperfect flower has separate male and female flowers and needs both to bloom in order to reproduce. Squash is an example of an imperfect flower.
Perennial: A type of plant that leaves for at least two years and some last even hundreds of years. Perennials differ from annuals and biannuals because they produce, die back and reproduce in their next blooming season without the need of new seeds or transplants. Some perennials last only a few years i.e. strawberries and some last hundreds i.e. trees.
Primocane: AKA "suckers," these first year berry canes generally do not produce fruit, but initiate the growth of the flowering buds preparing the canes for fruiting the following summer season.
Pseudanthium: AKA "false flowers." Characteristic of the Asteraceae family, pseudanthiums are clusters of small flowers that are bulked together on one receptical giving the illusion of one flower. Some examples are sunflowers, dahlias, daisies, artichokes and lettuce.
R is for
Reemay: A fabric made of polyester that helps seed germination, creates a physical barrier against pests, keeps soil beds warm and slows water evaporation.
S is for
Seconds: The veggies up for grabs because they aren't visually pleasing enough for the restaurant or market, but still just as tasty.
Self-pollination: The transfer of pollen from a male's anther to female's stigma found on the same plant. This differs from cross-pollination which transfers pollen from a male and female of two separate plants.
Substrate: A medium on which an organism can grow (e.g. an Oak log for a mushroom)
T is for
Taproot: A long, straight, enlarged root on vegetables such as carrots, parsnips, turnips and radishes that works its way deep down into the soil. This contrasts the widely spread finger-like root systems found in other plant varieties. When harvesting, taproots require a little more patience to ensure the entire root gets pulled out of the soil. Any trace of the taproot can lead to a resprouting.
Tendril: The tiny threadlike structures found on certain plants such as peas, beans and grapes that grab onto anything they can get these snake-like appendages around i.e. trellises. Once they find something to grab onto they begin to twist and curl forming a firm grip...pretty incredible to watch.
Trellis: Any structure used to support or train the growth of a plant. Trellises are generally used to manage plants that would otherwise crawl prostrate or grow wildly in many directions. Ideally trellising helps ease maintanence and harvest. Tomatoes, cucumbers, peas, and peppers are a few examples of plants that are generally trellised. Stakes, hanging strings and fences are some examples of common trellises.
W is for
WWOOF: Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms, the international organization started in England in 1971 for people who wanted to work on farms during the weekend. The organization has grown and established in almost any country you would want to visit including Italy and America, the two I've WWOOFed in. The program allows one to exchange a days work on an organic farm for food and a place to stay. A great way to experience farming, culture and travel.