All-America Selections

All-America Selections

All-America Selections (AAS) is a non-profit organisation that tests and evaluates varieties to choose superior cultivars (AAS winners) for home gardeners. AAS has more than 30 flowers and 20 vegetable test gardens in North America at universities, botanical gardens and other horticultural facilities.

Allium

Allium

The Allium family includes onions, leeks, chives, garlic, and many decorative species. They all give off the characteristic onion odour when bruised or cut, and they are useful as companion plants because the odour deters many insect pests. Alliums are also offensive to deer.

Annual

Annual

A plant that completes its whole life cycle in only one year, from germination to foliar growth to flowering and seed formation. Many vegetables are annuals, and will “bolt” or produce flowers and seeds in a short period, usually triggered by heat or length of daylight hours.

Annual, Half-Hardy

Annual, Half-Hardy

Half-hardy plants withstand light frost and their seeds can be planted early. If these annuals are set out in the fall, they will bloom the following spring.

Annual, Hardy

Annual, Hardy

These annuals tolerate frost and have seeds that over-winter outside and germinate the following spring.

Annual, Tender

Annual, Tender

These plants are usually from tropical or subtropical regions so are highly vulnerable to frost. Seeds need warm soils to germinate. Most annuals are categorised as tender (e.g. marigolds).

Beneficial Animals

Beneficial Animals

Some types of animals such as bats, snakes, spiders, and amphibians are helpful for pest control. For example, a toad can eat up to 3000 grubs, slugs, beetles and other insects in a month while a bat can consume up to 1000 insects in a single night! Welcoming these animals in our garden can be the start of a long and beautiful friendship.

Beneficial Insects

Beneficial Insects

While there are many insects that create problems in our gardens, there are far more insect allies. Flowers depend on bees, flies, and some moths for pollination. Many predatory insects such as ladybugs eat pest insects such as aphids. Many species are important in helping garden materials to compost. You can plant varieties that will attract beneficial insects to your garden or order them and relsease them in problem areas.

Tip: Resist the temptation to cut down hollow stems such as hollyhocks, delphiniums, meadow rue, lovage, fennel, etc. Adult ladybugs overwinter in the long tunnels, ensuring their presence in your garden in the Spring.

Biennial

Biennial

A plant which lasts for two years. The first season is a leaf and shoot growing phase, during which energy is stored for the second season’s flowering. Biennial vegetables are cropped after the first year. Examples include parsnips and carrots.

Bio-Dynamic Gardening

Bio-Dynamic Gardening

Bio-dynamics is a philosophy and method of agriculture developed by Rudolph Steiner in the 1920s. Its focus is to help people work with nature to grow healthy food. In many ways, it is similar to organic gardening. Both methods avoid chemical inputs and rely on composting, crop rotation, and other techniques. What makes bio-dynamics different is that its holistic influences. A bio-dynamic farm would strive to be a self-supporting system that mimics an ecosystem. Gardeners that follow this method of agriculture also believe that cosmic rhythms influence plant growth.

Biological Control

Biological Control

Instead of chemical or mechanic methods, live organisms are used to control pests. The best examples of biological control are parasitic wasps and Bacillus thuringiensis (BT), which prey on mosquito and fly larvae and many species of caterpillar. You can encourage biological pest control in your garden by providing attractive habitat and food sources for beneficial animals and insects.

Brassica

Brassica

Brassica refers to members of the Mustard genus, Brassicaceae. Sometimes called Cole Crops, these include smaller plants like radishes, kohlrabi, turnips, arugula, and many Oriental vegetables, as well as the larger group that includes broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, collards, and kale.

The genus Brassicaceae is remarkable because it includes the highest number of agricultural and food plants of all plant genera. Many of the varieties are well suited to colder climates.

Burpless

Burpless

A term used to describe certain cucumber varieties that have been bred to be easily digested. Some people experience gas after eating cucumbers, although the compound in cucumber fruit that causes this phenomenon is not well understood.

Canning

Canning

Many generations of gardeners, farmers, and families have relied on canning to preserve fruits and vegetables for the winter months. The trick to canning is to use very high temperatures to kill harmful bacteria, enzymes and micro-organisms in the food and to create a vacuum seal to prevent food-spoling organisms from getting back into the jar. Canning is a fantastic way to ensure that you have an abundant supply of nutritious and local produce all year round. For more information, visit the USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning at http://foodsafety.psu.edu/canningguide.html.

Catch Cropping

Catch Cropping

Sometimes one vegetable crop comes to an end a couple of months before you are ready to plant the next crop on that part of ground. Catch cropping is when you sow a quick maturing crop in this vacant gap. Suitable crops for filling such gaps include spring onions, radishes and lettuce – they mature quickly and can be ‘out of the way’ quickly.

Chitting

Chitting

Germinating seed before sowing. This is always done for potatoes, and may also be done for other seeds, such as sweetcorn, by placing them in a damp, warm place.

Cloche

Cloche

This term describes a wide variety of plant covers that let in light and protect plants from frost. The first cloches were made of glass and were unventilated, heavy, and cumbersome. Present-day cloches are made from a range of materials and take a number of shapes. You can buy cloches such as individual plant covers and row covers; or make your own with plastic 4L milk jugs and some creativity. Cloches work like greenhouses by letting in light that warms the soil. The stored heat in the soil is released slowly at night. Use your cloche to harden transplants, and protect tender plants from wind and pests.

Coated Seeds

Coated Seeds

Some seeds are coated with inert substances like graphite, and may appear silver in colour. This coating is applied to seeds that have a natural tendency to clump together, and so they will pass more easily through seeding machines. Some flower seeds may have coloured coating to help nursery workers see them against the soil. 

See also Pelleted Seeds.

Cold Frame

Cold Frame

Cold frames allow gardeners to streth their growing season and nurture plants that are used to warmer climates. They are often rectangular structures with a light-permeable roof that allows sunlight in but protect plants from rain, snow, and wind. Choose a fairly level and well-drained spot to place your cold frame. For extra protection, nestle it against a building, fence or hedge on the north side so that the south-facing frame will still receive the maximum amount of light.

Companion Planting

Companion Planting

Planting certain species of plants together create a wealth of beneficial effects for your garden, including:

– hiding a crop from pests
– producing odors that confuse or repel pests
– tricking and trapping pests away from other plants
– providing breeding and nesting habitat for beneficial insects

There are hundreds of companion planting combinations for a wide number of problems, both verified by scientific research and by your fellow gardener’s bountiful crop.

Container Gardening

Container Gardening

Containers that hold all the essential ingredients that plants need to survive are ideal for gardeners that have little or no garden space. Plant your container garden on a well-lit windowsill, the porch, or balcony. Containers can also create variety and interest in your outdoor garden.

Cultivation

Cultivation

Cultivation is manually working the soil by digging and turning. It is important to cultivate soils to prepare even beds for seedlings and to remove weeds. However, it can damage soil structure, plant roots, and communities of beneficial soil organisms. Do not work soils if they are too wet or too dry because you will do more damage than good. Also avoid working around wet plants to prevent spreading disease. Cultivation techniques include mulching and double-digging.

Damping Off

Damping Off

Seedlings killed by fungus are said to have “damped off.” Damping off is caused by a wide range of fungi including Botrytis, Pythium, and many others. It is usually the result of using unsterilized seedling soil, or by soil that has been kept too moist, creating a perfect habitat for many fungi and moulds. Planting seeds in sterilized starting soil is a simple way to avoid damping off, but some organic homemade recipes exist for spraying seedlings with garlic solution, chamomile tea, and so on. By far the safest method is to use sterilized soil and to monitor watering carefully.

Deadhead

Deadhead

Deadheading is the removal of spent flowers from plants before they can shed their seeds. The process usually prolongs the blooming period and will help prevent self-sowing. It also keeps flowering plants looking tidy and fresh.

Direct Sow

Direct Sow

The term direct sowing describes sowing (planting) seeds direct into the garden or container, rather than starting them indoors for transplanting at a later date. Many types of seeds would simply not benefit from staring indoors, while for others it's absolutely necessary. Carrot seeds are direct sown in spring through mid-summer. Tomato seeds are not direct sown, but started indoors to transplant out once the weather warms up in early summer.

Disease

Disease

Healthy and happy plants are naturally resistant to diseases. Organic gardening methods such as composting, crop rotation, and cover cropping help prevent disease by producing more vigorous plants and supporting thriving communities of beneficial soil organisms. Diseases are caused by pathogens such as fungi, viruses, bacteria, and certain species of nematodes.

Division

Division

When plants get too large for their spot or pot, divide or separate them into several smaller plants. Division is an easy and cost-effective way to propagate plants. Water the plant well before dividing and make sure that each piece has a root system, to allow new divisions to grow. The best time to divide plants is when they are dormant; so divide spring- and summer-blooming ones int he autumn, and fall-blooming plants in spring. Houseplants should be divided in spring before they put out new growth. For tubers and bulbs, divide them before planting in the spring.

Double Digging

Double Digging

This cultivation techniques takes a lot of sweat and time but it is well worth it. It improves the structure and fecundity of the first two feet of topsoil. To double dig, prepare the area by marking of your section and removing the weeds or sod. A few days after, start at one end of your section and dig a trench one foot wide and one foot deep. Put the topsoil from the trench on the other side of your section. Loosen the topsoil in the trench with a fork and add some compost into it. Dig another trench beside your first, pushing the soil from the second one into the first. Repeat the loosening and composting. Continue digging, loosening, composting, and pushing until you reach the end of your section. Add the topsoil from the first trench into the last trench. Voila!

Drying

Drying

Drying foods is another way to preserve food. It removes moisture from food, which harmful organisms need to grow and thrive. To dry foods, cut vegetables and fruits into small, thin pieces and expose them to warm, dry, moving air to draw 75-95 percent of the moisture out. Dried foods are lightweight, tasty, and nutritious (fantastic for traveling!) but the drying process can be time-consuming without a commercial dehydrator.

Edible Landscapes

Edible Landscapes

Edible landscapes are the very simple idea of planting species in our yards and boulevards that are both ornamental and edible. It can be as simple as planting some herbs in the flower beds so that you can quickly nip off a bit of basil or oregano for cooking. It can also be as far-reaching and exciting as your City planting and caring for fruit trees on commercial and residential streets.

Erosion

Erosion

Soil erosion is when soil structure is damaged and its organic material is washed away. Although erosion happens naturally, many human activities – including deforestation, strip mining, and repeated monocropping – accelerate erosion on very wide scales.

Espailier

Espailier

An expaliered plant is a fruit or ornamental tree that has been trained and pruned to grow flat, usually against a wall and in a clear pattern. Espalier plants are ideal for fruit production in small spaces. Although these plants produce less fruit than their orchard cousins, the fruit is usually larger and better formed. Producing espaliers is a tricky task, so track down an expert pruner or Master Gardener to help you with this project!

Evergreen

Evergreen

A plant that keeps its leaves year-round. Evergreens are classified according to the shape of their leaves. Narrow-leaved or needle evergreens are typically hardy and include pines, yews, and junipers. Broad-leaved evergreens tend to be more sensitive to the cold and include rhododendrons and azaleas.

Fertilizer

Fertilizer

A material that nourishes growing plants. Fertilizers can be chemical or organic. Most chemical materials are derived from non-renewable resources such as coal and natural gas. They provide soluble nutrients that are readily taken up by plants but do not provide food for and sometimes repel soil micro-organisms and earthworms. Treating your soil with only chemical fertilizers can lead to a loss of organic matter, soil structure, and water-holding capacity, making your garden even more dependent on increasing inputs.

By contrast, organic fertilizers feed both plants and soils. For the organic gardener, fertilizer is used sparingly to bring out the best performance in plants. The soil in an organically managed garden is typically rich in biological activity and nutrients, creating the ideal conditions for plant growth.

Fertilizers have a standard code to show their relative makeup and to indicate their best use. Complete organic fertilizer has a 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 to grow. “Micronutrients” are also important to plant health, and they include B (boron), Cu (copper), Fe (iron), Mn (manganese), Mo (molybdenum), Zn (zinc), Cl (chlorine), and Co (cobalt).

Forcing

Forcing

The practice of making flowers open, vegetables sprout, and fruits ripen out of season. There are many techniques for tricking or cajoling plants into doing what you want. For example, using greenhouses and row-covers can extend the season of many fruits and vegetables.

Frost Dates, First and Last

Frost Dates, First and Last

Frost dates are set by finding an average based on the last 20 years. The last frost date for the Vancouver, BC area is March 28. This is the last date, on average, when we might experience frost at night. The first average frost date of autumn falls on November 2 in Vancouver. These dates will be different if you live outside of the Vancouver area.

To find your first and last frost dates, search Google for the phrase “average frost date” plus the name of your town or a town nearby. Remember that these dates are averages only, and can fluctuate dramatically from year to year.

Frost dates give growers a good idea of how early or late it might be practical to sow seeds, depending on the variety, its germination time, and its days to maturity.

Genetically Engineered Organisms (GEOs)

Genetically Engineered Organisms (GEOs)

Because of the definitions of both the Canadian (CFIA) and American (USDA) authorities, we make the distinction that genetic engineering is a specific kind of genetic modification. In Genetic Engineering, DNA are manipulated or recombined to select specific traits. Common uses of genetic engineering include the insertion of DNA from foreign organisms, such as bacteria or fish, into plant DNA to produce crops that are resistant to pests or herbicides. The primary crops produced through this kind of biotechnology include (but are not restricted to) corn, soy, alfalfa, cotton, oilseed, potatoes, and sugar beets.

It is the position of West Coast Seeds that GEOs are fraught with problems, many of which are perhaps yet to be revealed. We do not knowingly offer any products, and in particular seeds, that are genetically engineered.

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO)

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO)

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) is the broadest way of describing the artificial manipulation of heritable traits of organisms in order to exploit specific characteristics. Both Canada (CFIA) and the US (USDA) define GMOs as including both genetically engineered organisms – as well as those organisms that result from traditional breeding and hybridization. At West Coast Seeds we sell  Non GMO seeds for Organic Growing .

To make matters more confusing, the European Union uses the term “genetically modified” and “GMO” to describe what North Americans now define as “genetically engineered” or “GEO.”

The distinction we at West Coast Seeds would like to make is that we do not handle or offer seeds that are Genetically Engineered Organisms. The GEO products that we DO NOT carry include roundup-ready seeds, bt-seeds, and numerous other products of the biotechnology industry.

Please refer to the links below to see how these terms sometimes conflict between regions.

Canadian Food Inspection Agency

United States Department of Agriculture

European Union Definition

Germination Rate

Germination Rate

Germination rates for any given variety of seed are achieved by actually taking samples from specific lots and germinating them in a controlled environment. The rate literally refers to the number of out 100 (or more) seeds which germinate successfully within an acceptable period of time. These tests are normally conducted by government certified laborotories.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency establishes minimum standards for germination rates of all vegetable, flower, and herb seeds for sale in Canada.

Generally speaking, the germination rate for nearly all seed will diminish over time as it is stored, so fresh seed generally has the highest rate of germination.

Gynoecious

Gynoecious

Some hybrid cucumbers are bred to be gynoecious – they bear predominantly female flowers. The purpose is to improve productivity earlier in the season, and for the plants to not “waste” energy producing male flowers. Gynoecious seeds are typically packed with a few seeds of a monoecious (plants with male and female flowers) variety included to ensure pollination. See also “parthenocarpic.”

Hardening Off

Hardening Off

Hardening off is the process of gradually allowing plants started indoors to adapt to conditions outdoors at transplant time. Conditions outside are relative harsh – temperatures fluctuate, sunlight is more intense and unfiltered, and wind causes increased air movement. It’s a good idea to introduce seedlings to this environment slowly, over several days, before transplanting them to their permanent growing spots.

Bring your tray of seedlings outdoors, but maybe to a shady area on day one, and bring it back inside overnight. On day two, leave the tray in a protected, but sunnier location. On day three, leave the tray in that location and let it spend the night there. Finally transplant on day four or five.

Failure to harden plants off can lead to stress from too much sun, moisture stripped from the leaves by wind, or damaged stems and leaves just from exposure. Many plants will rebound, but it’s a sensible step to make the process gradual.

Heirloom

Heirloom

This describes any vegetable variety grown consistently for over 50 years, that is not under patent, and has particular qualities that make it desirable. An heirloom tomato variety grown today should produce fruits with all the characteristics of flavour, texture, and aroma as the same variety grown 50 or even 150 years ago.

Heritage

Heritage

This term is used to describe Heirloom seed varieties that boast a particular ethnic or cultural lineage. Some people use the two terms interchangeably, but “heritage” implies nationality, as in “Italian heritage tomato” or “French heritage squash.”

Hybrid

Hybrid

When pollen from one plant variety is used to fertilize the flowers of a different variety, the resulting seed will produce a hybrid variety. The resulting plant (known as F1 hybrid) will have characteristics from both of its “parent” varieties. Not all hybrids produce good results, but sometimes these cross-bred plants will have superior flavour, shorter growing season, cold-hardiness or immunity to disease. It should be said that in our growing area, food produced by some hybrid varieties will be of superior quality to the open pollinated varieties available on the market. Grapefruits are the result of crossing pomelos and oranges – all grapefruits come from hybridized trees. Hybridization sometimes occurs naturally – typically in close geographical areas between two similar, but distinct species. The down side is that hybrid plant varieties will not produce seeds of a predictable or reliable quality.

If pollen from a hybrid is crossed with a non-hybrid variety, the result is referred to as F2 hybrids, indicating a second generation of the process.

Hybridization is altogether different from genetic modification. Genetically Engineered Organisms (GEO) have been modified by the genes of a separate species. There are many concerns about the results and ethics of genetic modification. Unlike hybridization, genetic engineering cannot occur without human intervention. To the best of our knowledge, West Coast Seeds does not carry or sell any GEO products.

Intercropping

Intercropping

Growing small crops in the spaces alongside larger plants, or alongside plants which are so slow growing that before they reach maturity the smaller crop will have been harvested. Some plants (such as spinach) may be grown this way because they benefit from the shade given by the larger crop. Other varieties suitable for intercropping include radishes, lettuce and early peas.

Legginess

Legginess

This term generally applies to seedlings or young plants. Plants become “leggy” due to insufficient light, either from being started indoors where there is no supplemental light or by being planted too close together and competing for limited available light. Seedlings deprived of sufficient light will grow tall and spindly as they seek light. This causes weak stems and less robust transplants.

To avoid legginess, it’s important to provide seedlings sown indoors with supplemental light. Sometimes a bright windowsill is enough, but we recommend suspending full spectrum fluourescent tubes just above the seedling tray, and keeping it lit for 8 to 10 hours a day. This will result in bushier, more compact and robust growth.

Light

Light

All plants require some amount of light in order to grow. Nearly all vegetables and fruits (and most flowers) require full sun – 6 to 8 hours of direct sunshine during summer days, between 10am and 6pm. Parital sun (or part shade) refers to plants that prefer to be shaded from direct sunlight during the hottest times of the day, or plants that can grow in sunlight that is broken by fences, overhead trees, and so on. It is possible to grow some vegetable varieties in part shade, including leaf crops, carrots, peas, onions, radish, cauliflower, and cucumber – but all of these will be more productive in full sun.

Mesclun

Mesclun

Mesclun means a “mixed up mess of baby greens.” You can pick individual leaves or shear off the whole patch about 2cm (1″) from the ground. The plants will re-grow and can be cut again and again. Combining different flavours and textures produces a great range of salad possibilities. Mescluns are easily grown in containers where space is limited. In the garden, plant them somewhere easily accessible for repeat harvests.

Micro-Greens

Micro-Greens

Unlike sprouts, which are grown in water, Micro-Greens are grown in soil, and harvested when the first pair of true leaves have emerged. The whole plant is used, roots and all. Colourful and full of flavour, Micro-Greens can be used as you would sprouts – in sandwiches, as garnishes or as a unique salad on their own. Just about any vegetable or herb seed can be used, too. Some of our favourites include radish, kale, pac choi, and kohrabi.

Monoecious

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.”

Mulch

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.

N-P-K

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 to grow. “Micronutrients” are also important to plant health, and they include B (boron), Cu (copper), Fe (iron), Mn (manganese), Mo (molybdenum), Zn (zinc), Cl (chlorine), and Co (cobalt).

Offset

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.

Open Pollination

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.

Organic

Organic

Organic is a broad term given to food that has been grown without the use of synthetic chemicals, fertilizers, seed treatments, pesticides, herbicides, and so on. In the case of meat, animals are raised without the use of antibiotics, steroids, etc… Vegetables (and other plants) grown in this way produce “organic” seeds. It should be noted that an organic seed does not necessarily produce an organic plant, because it is the method of growing that determines whether something is organic. Likewise, conventionally grown seeds (seeds that have not specifically been grown in an organic fashion) may produce organic vegetables if the grower chooses.

Certified Organic growers, seed handlers, and packers must adhere to strict rules regarding the methods they use, and they are subject to audits by regulatory bodies in order to maintain their certification. Although many seeds may be produced in an organic manner, only Certified Organic seeds can bear the name. For more information on acquiring Certified Organic status, please visit the website of the Canadian Organic Growers at www.cog.ca.

West Coast Seeds is a Certified Handler of Organic Seeds.

Unless a seed variety is marked CERTIFIED ORGANIC, the farm that produced the seed lacks organic certification. Many of our seeds are grown organically and these are marked in the description of the variety. We are certified by the Pacific Agriculture Certification Society (PACS) and our number is 16-205. West Coast Seeds is a Certified Handler of Organic Seeds, meaning that we have obtained organic certificates from our seed suppliers and that there is a clear paper trail between the seeds we purchase and the seeds we sell. In addition, we do certification checks to prevent organic seeds from being contaminated (fungicides, rodenticides or other sources of contamination) or confused with non-organic seed during handling.

 

All Of Our Seeds Are Untreated

West Coast Seeds does not carry any treated seeds (e.g. seeds with a fungicide on them) and we do not, to the best of our knowledge, carry any Genetically Modified seeds.

pacs-logo
USDA Organic symbol 1

For Organic Growers
If you require a copy of our Certified Handler Certificate for your CB, please let us know on your order and we will send a copy with your seeds.

Pelleted Seeds with Organic Coating
Small seeds like carrot seeds, onion seeds and lettuce seeds are sometimes “pelleted.” Each seed is coated with a layer of clay to increase its size for easier handling. This makes spacing the seeds much easier and enables growers to use set spacing on their seeding machines. It also increases evenness in germination. The few varieties of seeds we offer as pelleted are prepared with organic materials, and contain no seed treatment or chemicals.

Parthenocarpic

Parthenocarpic

The fruits of parthenocarpic varieties (some tomatoes and cucumbers, for instance) develop without pollination, so they do not require male flowers or insect pollinators. As a result of this, they also don’t form seeds. Parthenocarpic varieties should be grown in isolation from non-parthenocarpic types to ensure that no cross-pollination takes place. If it does, the parthenocarpic fruits may develop seeds.

Pelleted Seeds

Pelleted Seeds

Small seeds like carrots, onions and lettuce are sometimes “pelleted.” Each seed is coated with a layer of clay to increase its size for easier handling. This makes spacing the seeds much easier and enables growers to use set spacing on their seeding machines. It also increases evenness in germination. The few varieties of seeds we offer as pelleted are prepared with organic materials, and contain no seed treatment or chemicals.

In a few cases we offer "multi-seed pelleted" products. These pellets contain more than one seed each.

See also Coated Seeds.

NOTE: Extra care must be taken with all pelleted seeds. Be sure to keep the seed bed EXTRA moist until germination. If the seed bed is allowed to dry out, the clay pelleting material may leach moisture from the seed, resulting in poor germination.

Perennial

Perennial

Unlike annuals, which mature fully in one year, and biennials which take two years, perennials are plants that last for more than two years. Scientifically, the term refers to any woody-stemmed plant, but includes everything from tiny, low-growing thyme varieties to towering maple trees. Perennial plants overwinter by storing food either in their trunks or roots. Unlike annuals, they do not need to attempt to self-sow each summer.

Some perennial plants may only last three years, or will benefit from being lifted and separated at that time by root division.

Permaculture

Permaculture

Permaculture is an approach to garden design and landscaping that focuses on ecological responsibility, sustainability, and cultivating the environment as part of the agricultural process. There are many principles associated with permaculture, but the primary concept is that growers observe and interact with the environment, and work to produce no waste. The term was coined in the 1930s as a shortening of “permanent agriculture.”

pH

pH

The pH scale measures relative acidity and alkalinity in soil. A pH of 7.0 is absolutely neutral and expresses the relative acidity of pure water. A pH of 1.0 would be extremely acidic (stomach acid), and 14.0 would be extremely alkaline (lye or drain cleaner). Nearly all crop plants prefer growing in a slightly acidic to neutral pH of 6.0 to 7.0. Outside of this range, many soil nutrients become unavailable to plants which leads to stunting, discolouration, poor fruit set, and general poor growth. Without the correct soil pH, there is no point in adding fertilizers or other nutrients to the garden.

The letters pH stand for potential Hydrogen, and refer to the balance of positive hydrogen (H) to negative hydroxyl (Oh) ions. When water molecules form a solution with soil, they break up and combine with other particles to form new compounds.

It is the natural tendency of soil to become more acidic over time as organic acids are released as matter decays. Alkaline ions (calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium) are leached out of soil by rain, and this adds to the process. This is why growers apply dolomite lime to their gardens and fields every few years. Dolomite consists mainly of calcium carbonate, which makes more hydrogen ions available in the soil and raises the pH.

We recommend liming soil every three years as part of a regular crop rotation cycle. Dolomite lime is a safe, natural product. Please follow the coverage directions on the specific brand you find.

Raised Bed

Raised Bed

This refers to any garden planting area where the soil is elevated above the regular soil level. Typically, a frame is built out of boards, beams, or stones, and then filled in with soil. The elevation of the soil in a raised bed allows for better drainage and causes the soil to heat up faster than it would otherwise. Warm, well-drained soil is perfect for many vegetables, particularly heat-loving plants like tomatoes, peppers, melons, and so on. Raised beds can be any depth – even raising the soil 6 inches above the ground will improve its properties for growing vegetables and other plants.

Raised beds are very useful for winter gardening on the Coast because of the extra drainage and warmer soil. It’s also quite easy to set up a cloche system above a raised bed because the dimensions are already defined, and the cloche pipe can be anchored to the actual bed.

Row Cover

Row Cover

This refers to coth or polyethylene fabric that is used to literally cover a row of vegetables. Lightweight row cover can be used in the spring to protect seedlings from insects. The cover is placed over the whole planted area and its edges are tucked into or stapled into the soil. This is a very effective way of protecting carrots from the carrot rust fly – as just one example.

Heavyweight row cover is thicker, and is meant to be used as an insulating blanket in the fall or early spring. This will keep frost from damaging vegetables. Heavyweight row cover has several other uses, including wrapping tender perennials over winter, creating windbreaks, and so on.

Seeds per gram

Seeds per gram

Seeds per gram (s/g) refers to the actual number of seeds of a given variety per gram. As some seeds are very small, there may be as many as 10,000 s/g, whereas very large seeds like beans may have to be measured abstractly as in 175 seeds per 50g in order to achieve an accurate average.

The term seeds per gram is always used as an approximation, as the relative size and weight of seed may vary by as much as 50%, depending on freshness, dryness, and even ambient humidity. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency uses a commercial standard scale which is available on their web site: www.inspection.gc.ca

Self-Sowing

Self-Sowing

Many flower and herb varieties are prone to self-sowing. If their flowers are allowed to mature and set seed, the seed will fall and lay dormant until the following spring. In some cases self-sowing plants can become weedy. Prevent self-sowing by “deadheading,” or removing spent flowers before they set seed. Some examples of plants that are likely to self-sow: Dill, Foxglove, California poppy, Calendula, Nasturtium, Poppies, Verbena, Cilantro, Chives…

Solanum

Solanum

Solanum is a very large genus of plants typified by nightshade, but also including potatoes, tomatoes, and eggplant (aubergine). Scores of other food plants are included in this genus, but most are grown in tropical climates. The green parts of many plants in the genus are poisonous to humans.

The structure of the genus is under debate, and many plants have been grouped into subgenus or sections of their own.

Most uses of the term Solanum in gardening refer to tomatoes, eggplants, and potatoes as a general group in crop rotation, as they enjoy more acidic soil. After growing Solanums, it is recommended to add compost and fresh dolomite lime to the area and rotate to Brassicas and salad greens the following year.

Stratification

Stratification

Stratification, or pre-chilling, is the process of refrigerating seeds prior to sowing. This simulates the low temperatures of winter and encourages more even germination after the seeds are sown. There are two easy ways to stratify seeds. The first is to place seeds between wet paper towels, slip them into a plastic bag, and place them in the freezer for several days. Alternately, seeds can be planted in peat pellets or other growing medium and placed outside to chill for 7 to 10 days in winter. They are then brought indoors, where they should germinate evenly. In some instances, un-stratified seeds may take as long as several years to germinate.

Thinly (sowing)

Thinly (sowing)

This is a vague term which is used ubiquitously. In general, if you place small seeds roughly 1.2 to 2.5cm (half an inch to an inch) apart then you won’t go far wrong. Larger seeds (such as peas) are placed further apart. If the germination rate is high and many seedlings are wasted by later thinning, just sow thinner next time!

Thinning

Thinning

Thinning is the act of picking through a row of recently emerged seedlings and removing some of them to provide room for each plant in the row to mature properly. For instance, carrot seeds are planted in a straight row direct in the garden bed. Once the seedlings emerge, the row must be “thinned” so that each plant is 4-10cm away from its neighbour. For really big roots, you might thin to 10-14cm.

Transplanting

Transplanting

Taking seedlings from a seed bed or container and planting them where they will grow to maturity. Brassicas are usually transplanted (because they need more room when they grow to maturity than they do when just germinating). Root crops generally grow poorly after transplanting. In general, water the seedlings the day before you lift them, and water again after they have been planted in their new position.

Trellis

Trellis

A trellis is any structure built or erected to support climbing plants and vines. Many formal trellis designs exist, usually in the form of a gridwork of wood or metal. The word is sometimes used as a verb, as in, “trellis this climbing cucumber variety for the straightest fruits.” Plants can be trellised over fences, up walls, even up trees if there is enough light. One grower here in Delta trellises his pumpkins up sturdy ladders in a way that allows the fruits to hang down beneath the bulky plants.

Trellising allows plants to grow towards the light, and at the same time, their fruits can hang down and grow straight, rather than curling up on the ground.

Untreated Seeds

Untreated Seeds

Some seed companies treat their seeds with chemicals that act as fungicide or pesticide. Growers on massive industrial scale may wish to use treated seeds to reduce the chance of crop failure due to a sudden cold snap or unusually wet spring weather. Treated seeds are often dyed bright colours to show that chemicals are being used.

West Coast Seeds does not sell treated seeds of any kind. We believe that inserting seeds coated with poison into the earth is an unsound gardening practice. We prefer gaguing the weather patterns from year to year, employing crop protection, and choosing the right seed for the right area. Also, by practicing good organic gardening techniques such as crop rotation and cultivating active “living” soil, pests can be controlled effectively.

Some very small seeds (such as certain carrot varieties) may be “pelleted.” The pelleting process adds a small layer of organic material such as molasses to the seed to allow for sowing with greater precision. Pelleted seeds are different from treated seeds.

Some seeds are "coated" with inert substances like graphite to prevent clumping and make it easier for them to pass through seeding equipment. Coated seeds are different from treated seeds.

Vernalization

Vernalization

Vernalization is a treatment for some plant varieties that is necessary to induce flowering. Typically, the plants are chilled for a period of days or weeks to simulate low winter temperatures. Many biennials require vernalization, and without it, the flowering process is not triggered. The author Eliot Coleman describes a vernalization method for treating artichokes that induces them to flower in the first year.

Xeriscaping Seeds

Xeriscaping Seeds

Xeriscaping Seeds provide a method of landscaping which follows principles of water conservation, plant selection, mulching, minimal use of lawn, and efficient irrigation. It does not mean zero use of water. You will need to water well at planting time, and while your plants are becoming established. Other than that, mature plants will be drought resistant.

What the heck is xeriscaping?

Simply put, xeriscaping is a system of landscaping with water conservation as the priority. In areas that receive little rainfall in the summer, some thoughtful xeriscaping will allow flowering plants to thrive, adding visual appeal – as well as important forage for pollinators.

There are five principles that are key to xeriscaping success:

Plant selection is fundamental to xeriscaping because different plants have different needs when it comes to moisture, light, and soil. Drought tolerant plants are the most useful for this system, and there are masses to choose from.

Plant grouping keeps plants with similar needs together. If your property has a high, exposed point, as well as a low area where water gathers, you would select drought tolerant plants for the high area, and plants that require more moisture for the lower area. Prepare the soil in your xeriscaped area with this in mind, adding more moisture-retaining organic matter where necessary.

Grading takes advantage of the natural tendency of water to move downhill, even over low grades. This is an important concept in xeriscaping design. Xeriscaped areas are rarely flat like lawns might be.

Mulching prevents weeds from growing, and it conserves what little moisture there is in the soil below. Mulching with finished compost or well-rotted manure helps to build soil’s structure and fertility over time.

Irrigating efficiently is perhaps the most important concept to achieve a really robust and healthy xeriscape landscape. A carefully designed xeriscape might survive well simply using the naturally occurring rainfall. But in times of extended summer drought, some additional irrigation may be necessary. The trick is to irrigate efficiently. Watering deeply and infrequently encourages deeper root growth. Irrigate in the morning

Read more about xeriscaping seeds.