Bloom Seed Library

Definitions and Terms

Please see below for definitions of commonly used terms surrounding gardening, seed starting and harvesting.


Seed Starting Terms:

  1. Germination: The process by which a seed develops into a new plant, typically marked by the emergence of the radicle (embryonic root) and shoot (embryonic stem).

  2. Stratification: The process of subjecting seeds to cold and moist conditions to simulate natural winter conditions, breaking dormancy and promoting germination.

  3. Scarification: The process of mechanically or chemically breaking or weakening the seed coat, which helps improve the absorption of water and hastens germination.

Gardening Terms:

  1. Transplanting: The process of moving a plant from one growing environment to another, such as from a seed tray or pot to a garden bed.

  2. Thinning: The process of selectively removing some seedlings or plants to give more space for the remaining ones to grow and develop properly.

  3. Hardening off: The process of gradually acclimatizing indoor-grown seedlings to outdoor conditions before transplanting them into the garden.

  4. Mulching: Applying a layer of organic or inorganic material around the base of plants to help retain moisture, suppress weeds, and regulate soil temperature.

  5. Companion planting: The practice of planting different species together in close proximity to provide mutual benefits, such as pest control, pollination, or nutrient enhancement.

  6. Crop rotation: The practice of changing the types of crops grown in a specific area over different seasons or years to prevent soil depletion and reduce the risk of pests and diseases.

Seed Harvesting Terms:

  1. Seed maturity: The point at which a seed has fully developed and is ready to be harvested.

  2. Seed saving: The practice of collecting seeds from plants to use for planting in the future, helping to preserve genetic diversity and adapt to local growing conditions.

  3. Seed cleaning: The process of separating seeds from their surrounding plant material (such as chaff or fruit pulp) to prepare them for storage or planting.

  4. Seed viability: A measure of a seed's ability to germinate and produce a healthy plant, which can be affected by factors such as age, storage conditions, and genetic quality.

  5. Seed dormancy: A state in which a viable seed is unable to germinate under favorable conditions due to internal or external factors, such as a hard seed coat or the presence of certain plant hormones.

  6. Winnowing: Winnowing is an ancient agricultural technique used to separate seeds or grains from chaff, which is the lighter, unwanted plant material such as husks, leaves, or stems. The process takes advantage of the difference in weight and aerodynamic properties between the seeds and chaff.

    Here's a basic explanation of how winnowing is done:

        The harvested seed material, which includes seeds, grains, and chaff, is first threshed to loosen the seeds from their surrounding plant material.

        The mixture of seeds and chaff is then placed on a large, shallow tray, basket, or another suitable surface.

        The winnower gently tosses the seed mixture into the air or uses a fan or natural breeze to create airflow over the material. Due to the difference in weight and aerodynamics, the lighter chaff is blown away by the wind, while the heavier seeds or grains fall back onto the tray or surface.

        The process is repeated several times to ensure that most of the chaff is removed and the seeds are adequately cleaned.

    Winnowing is still practiced in many parts of the world, particularly in traditional and small-scale farming systems. In modern agriculture, machines called combine harvesters often carry out the tasks of threshing, winnowing, and collecting seeds or grains in one operation.