February refused to be type cast.  Her stony, cold bosom softened as her reticence waned.  In a month known for some of our largest snow falls and blizzards, February brought mild-temperatures and rain, a beacon in an otherwise bleak and inhospitable season.

Winter can be tough.  For those who despise the season, I imagine it’s harder still.  The sheer lack of sun light can be punishing, and winter weather often makes life and its simpler tasks a bit arduous and unwieldly.

As we look for ways to pass the time and shorten the passage to Spring, many direct their attention to gardening and seed catalogues as they plan for the season ahead.  Before you turn the page or place an order, it’s important to understand the lingo.  After all, seed shopping should provide a break from our sometimes taxing, winter lives.

  Planting in Hills:

No, this does not mean planting seeds on a hill or in small volcanic mounds.  Planting in hills refers to the practice of planting several seeds in one location, usually three in a triangular pattern.

  F1 Hybrids:

This term is an abbreviation for Filial 1 (first children).  It refers to selective breeding by cross pollinating two different plants.  Generally speaking, they are better performers, disease resistant and have outstanding flowers or fruit, but they tend to cost more.

  Number of Days:

You may see this term after the seed’s name, and it refers to the number of days before the plant can be harvested from the time it was sown.

  Determinate & Indeterminate Varieties:

Often with tomatoes, you’ll notice these terms.  Determinate plants tend to be shorter and more compact while Indeterminate plants tend to be taller and require staking.

  Monoecious & Gynoecious:

Monoecious plants have separate male and female flowers while Gynoecious have all female flowers.

  Disease Resistance & Tolerance:

Many vegetables now include an intimidating list of initials at the end of their name.  Basically, the initials refer to the plants disease resistance or tolerance.  For example, you may see the following initials “V” (Verticillium), “F” (Fusarium wilt), “N” (Nematode resistance), “TMV” (Tobacco Mosaic Virus), “PM” (Powdery Mildew), “DM” (Downy Mildew), “CMV” (Cucumber Mosaic Virus) and/or “CVYV” (Cucumber Vein Yellowing Virus).

  All American Selection:

Generally represented by the initials “AAS”, All-American Selection signifies that the plant has performed at a high level, meeting a set of standards to ensure its success in your yard.

Surely February will resort to her frigid and unyielding self, but until then, enjoy her early spoils and flip through your catalogues with confidence and ease.

“Every gardener knows that under the cloak of winter lies a miracle…a seed waiting to sprout, a bulb opening to the light, a bud straining to unfurl.  And the anticipation nurtures our dream.”

-Barbara Winkler

Best wishes,

Kim Sweeney