Terms used on this Site | Great Escape Farms

This post, Terms used on this Site, shows terms that are commonly used on Great Escape Farms and may need a little more clarification than what is given in the article that they appear in.


With regards to plant, this is a plant that will die out in less than a year and will need to be replanted every year.


Creates a puckering sensation in the mouth (such as cranberries) or a dry, chalky feeling.

Beneficial Insects

Bugs or insects that perform a valued service like pollination and pest control.  Generally, they do not eat vegetation, although some insects are classified as beneficial because they do eat weed seeds.


A plant that lives for two years only and then dies.

Chop and Drop

A Permaculture term used to describe a simple, yet highly-efficient system of creating mulch. Plants that make good mulch are pruned frequently and the cuttings are dropped directly on the ground below. This creates a beneficial layer of organic material that helps conserve water, reduce weeds and create food for nearby plants through decomposition.


An ancient form of woodland management, that involves repetitive felling on the same stump, near to ground level, and allowing the shoots to regrow from that main stump.


Means “falling off at maturity” or “tending to fall off”, and it is typically used in order to refer to trees or shrubs that lose their leaves seasonally.


These plants produce a male plant and a female plant and not usually a single plant with both male and female parts meaning you will need a male plant and a female plant of this species for successful reproduction.


any fruit, as a peach, cherry, plum, etc., consisting of an outer skin, a usually pulpy and succulent middle layer, and a hard and woody inner shell usually enclosing a single seed.

Dynamic Accumulator

Draws up nutrients from deep down in the earth, usually with long tap roots, and makes those nutrients bio-available to other plants.

Forest Gardening

Forest gardening is a low-maintenance sustainable plant-based food production and agroforestry system based on woodland ecosystems, incorporating fruit and nut trees, shrubs, herbs, vines and perennial vegetables which have yields directly useful to humans. Making use of companion planting, these can be intermixed to grow in a succession of layers, to build a woodland habitat.


A taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of living and fossil organisms in biology; ranks above species and below family, and is denoted by a capitalized Latin name.


Genetically Modified Organisms.  GMOs are living organisms whose genetic material has been artificially manipulated in a laboratory through genetic engineering.  Virtually all commercial GMOs are engineered to withstand direct application of herbicide and/or to produce an insecticide.  While there are debates as to the safety of genetically modifying an organism that we eat, my biggest issue is with the chemical herbicide and insecticides that they are drenching our food with.

Hand Pollinating

The act of humans pollinating plants.  This is sometimes done to cross specific varieties or because the plants have a very low pollination rate in nature.

Hardwood Cuttings

Hardwood cuttings are taken from deciduous trees and plants when they are dormant, i.e. when they have no leaves.


An heirloom is a plant that has offspring that is largely the same as the parent plant and has been around for many plant generations.


Hugelkultur is nothing more than making raised garden beds filled with rotten wood.  It is a German word and there are many definitions out there.  Some go so far as to state the minimum height and angles of the sides.


Also known as cross breed, a hybrid is the result of mixing, through sexual reproduction, two plants of different breeds, varieties, species or genera.


Growing a single crop at a time on a large scale.  Polyculture is an alternate to monoculture.


Having both the male and female reproductive organs in the same individual; hermaphrodite.

Nitrogen Fixation

The process of taking nitrogen from the air and making it bioavailable to plants through their root system.


An egg-shaped leaf with the narrower end at the base


Palmate means having several lobes whose midribs all radiate from one point


A plant that lives for more than two years.  Some plants are perennial in one USDA hardiness zone and annual in another USDA hardiness zone.


A system of agricultural and social design principles centered around simulating or directly utilizing the patterns and features observed in natural ecosystems.


The arrangement of feather-like or multi-divided features arising from both sides of a common axis.


is a pruning system in which the upper branches of a tree are removed, promoting a dense head of foliage and branches.


Growing multiple crops at a time.  The opposite of monoculture.

Root Nodules

Occurs on the roots of plants that associate with symbiotic nitrogen-fixing bacteria. Under nitrogen-limiting conditions, capable plants form a symbiotic relationship with a host-specific strain of bacteria known as rhizobia.


Is a circular arrangement of leaves, with all the leaves at a similar height. Though rosettes usually sit near the soil.


The seeds of many plant species are often impervious to water and gases, thus preventing or delaying germination. Any process of breaking, scratching, or altering the testa (seed coat) through chemical or thermal methods to make it permeable to water and gases is known as scarification.

Seed preparation – this treatment helps crack the hard seed coat and simulates the processes that go on in nature when the pod and seed are eaten by an animal and pass through its digestive system (do this when you are ready to plant seeds):

  1. Bring water just to boiling in a heat-proof container (water volume should be 3 to 4 times the volume of the seeds you are treating).
  2. Remove water from heat source and let stand for one minute (if you have a thermometer, water temperature should be about 190°F).
  3. Pour seeds into hot water. Then allow water to cool to room temperature. Remove seeds after they begin to swell; seeds can be allowed to swell up to 3 times their normal size.
  4. Plant seeds immediately after boiling water treatment; do not store.
  5. Alternatively, have the students vigorously rub the seeds on a piece of medium or fine sandpaper or a file, then plant.

Self Fertile

Self fertile by means of its own pollen or sperm.  It could be that a plant has both male and female flowers or it could mean that the flower has both male and female parts.

Softwood Cuttings

Cuttings taken from a plant using the current years cuttings before they get hard and woody.


In horticulture, stratification is the process of treating stored or collected seed prior to sowing to simulate natural winter conditions that a seed must endure before germination. Some seed species undergo an embryonic dormancy phase, and generally will not sprout until this dormancy is broken.

To stratify seeds soak them in cold water for 6 to 12 hours and then put them in a zip lock bag with a moist but not wet medium such as Pete Moss.  I have also used a damp paper towel.  Put the zip lock bag in the refrigerator for the recommended period of time.  The desired temperature is usually between 34 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit.  The period of time varies with each plant and can be as little as one week and as long as 16 weeks.


In permaculture, swales are water-harvesting ditches, built on the contour of a landscape.

They slow water down to a standstill, eliminate erosion, infiltrate the surrounding area with water, and recharge the groundwater table.

USDA hardiness zone

The USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map is the standard by which gardeners and growers can determine which plants are most likely to thrive at a location. The map is based on the average annual minimum winter temperature, divided into 10-degree F zones.  The map can be found at: http://planthardiness.ars.usda.gov/PHZMWeb/


A plant that grows on its own, rather than being deliberately planted by a gardener or farmer.  This could be a flower that reseeds itself from last year or a weed seed that was dropped off by a passing bird.


An acronym for Willing Worker on Permaculture Farm.  It is actually an offshoot of WWOOF or Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms. WWOOF is a network of just over 2000 farms that have workers come and work for about four hours a day for room and board. You go to the farm and work and in most instances learn as you go along. No experience needed in most cases. It is an absolutely wonderful learning experience. Wwopfer and WWoOF seem to operate the same except the Wwopfer is done on a farm that practices permaculture techniques.

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