Garden seeds are living plants in a resting embryonic state carrying on metabolic activity. Some seeds rely on wind or insects for pollination, while others are self-pollinating.
Annuals are plants which grow from seed to maturity in a season. Kitchen garden plants such as corn, cucumber, melons, pumpkins, & squash are annuals. Pole beans were favored for the ease of drying the pods.
Biennials are plants that need to be stored over a winter season, before they flower & go to seed the following season. Cauliflower, beets, cabbage, carrots, onions celery, & turnips are among these biennials. Some plants, such as some varieties of cabbage, may need to be grown to eating size before wintering over. If they are not sufficiently mature, they may not flower in the spring or seed reliably.
Perennials are plants that return each year such as rhubarb & asparagus. If planted from seed, they begin producing seed a year or two later.
Annual A plant that completes its life cycle in one year or less.
Biennial A plant that lives for up to two years under outdoor conditions, flowers & produces seed the second year.
Determinate/Indeterminate Determinates flower once or twice a growing period, usually early in the season, & yield mature harvests all at one time. Indeterminate plants flower & fruit continuously throughout the growing season.
Hardy A general term used to describe a plant's ability to endure cold, although it does not necessarily indicate a plant's tolerance to heat.
Hardy Annual An annual plant that can withstand fairly severe frosts, & in mild climates can be sown in the fall for spring bloom or harvest.
Hardy biennial/perennial A biennial or perennial that can survive even in cold climates during the winter & needs little additional protection. It is freeze tolerant.
Medicinal A plant with health-promoting or curative properties, providing symptomatic relief or affecting physiological functions.
Open-Pollinated seeds are allowed to naturally pollinate among themselves. Open-pollinated plants, grown in relative isolation to prevent cross-pollination with another variety of the same species, will produce offspring that are very similar to the original parent population, allowing seeds to be saved &grown out ‘true-to-type’ year after year, generation after generation.
Reseeding Annual An annual crop that produces & drops seed which will germinate & grow readily without human intervention the following year.
Tender Annual An annual that is frost & cold sensitive & which should only be planted in warm soils after all danger of frost is past.
Tender Biennial/Perennial A biennial or perennial that will not withstand freezing temperatures & typically thrives in tropical climates or indoors.
Native Seeds Open-pollinated varieties that have evolved through centuries of growing by native/indigenous peoples of the world. They are often drought & pest resistant, hardy & nutritious & are still cultivated around the world.