It was a few years back that our ungarden-like neighbour came to ask, on behalf of his ESL friend, about a gardening term that had them both perplexed.
It was the term: deadheading.
Now this is used to describe when you take off a spent flower when it is finished its bloom time. It is to keep your plant looking neat and tidy and encourage new production of flowers.
You don't do this, of course, if you are wanting to keep the seeds that the flower head produces.
But, I do admit, it's a rather brutal sounding term to the new green thumb to be. Sometimes I get the idea that this is what my husband wants to do with the neighbours who let their weeds go to seed.
Mulch is another term that is questionable - it is when you apply a layer of say, compost or leaves or grass on top of an area for different purposes.
It could be a layer of straw on tender perennials to protect them over winter, or a layer of compost to enrich the soil in spring, or a layer of grass inbetween your veggies to keep the weeds at bay.
It "mulchly" improves things you might say!
Pinching back is something I personally avoid, and by which many dahlia growers especially, thrive by. It's when you "pinch" or cut off the early bud of a flower before it blooms.
I suppose this is where the saying, "Nipping it in the bud" came from. You will do this to encourage side branches or blooms to form, to keep a plant stocky instead of being lanky.
Companion gardening is when you plant something nearby or with something for different reasons. Sometimes the plant provides a different nutrient in the soil when it is harvested, and others attract good insects, while repelling others.
An example would be planting marigolds near plants that suffer from aphids. The smell of marigolds is supposed to repel aphids. But, I must admit my term of companion gardening is much simpler than that. It is when my companion (my trusty husband) and I are in the garden and I point and he plants!
See you in the dirt.
Deb Brodie is a local gardener and member of the Richmond Garden Club. She can be reached at debinthegarden@ gmail.com.