A few resolute leaves dangled precariously on the otherwise stark limbs of the mid-Winter trees while a flock of grackle squawked and chortled in the distance, gloating as they attempted to masquerade as foliage.  At once, they took to the skies, again leaving the tree mostly leafless.

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.  As always, feel free to reach out to Sweeney’s with any of your seed/planting questions or needs.

Plant of the Week


Prairie Dropseed

Perennial grass grows in a graceful fountain-like shape, made up of finely textured emerald green foliage.  Golden flowers bloom August-September.  Prefers sun and dry soil.  Grows 24-36″ tall and 24-36″ wide.  Attracts pollinators, deer resistant and drought tolerant.

“All the flowers of all the tomorrows are in the seeds of today.”

-Swedish Proverb

Best wishes,

Kim Sweeney