Our seed listings include a variety of abbreviations and terms... so we thought it would be helpful to offer an FAQ.
Abbreviations used in our online seed listing names:
(F) - stands for Fruition Seeds, one of our amazing organic seed partners
(HM) - stands for High Mowing seeds, another of our amazing organic seed partners
(SGH) - stands for Sage Garden; these packs are under our own brand and include a wide selection of organic flower seeds not available from either Fruition of High Mowing, as well as perennials, herbs and unique veggies
(OG) - stands for Organic; in fact, 100% of the seeds we sell are from certified organic sources, but this abbreviation is a legacy from before we had organic status for 100% of our seed suppliers
Common terms used in our seed listing info:
Heirloom: This indicates a selection that has been maintained for many years, often outside of mainstream commercial horticulture. Heirlooms are often varieties introduced prior to modern hybrids (pre-1950s) but there is no absolute date requirement for heirloom status. Generally speaking, heirlooms have been preserved for qualities such as being particularly flavourful, well suited to a regional climate or because they have some sort of highly unique character. Heirlooms are always open-pollinated, meaning that home gardeners can save their own seeds from these plants.
Open Pollinated: Seeds identified as open pollinated come true-to-type when self pollinated or pollinated by a plant of the same species. The main implication of this is that these are very reliable plants from which to save and replant the seeds.
This is in contrast to hybrids, which require the crossing of specific genetics from different parent plants to reliably yield the unique characteristics sought after in the offspring.
The one note when it comes to saving open pollinated seeds is that some species are very prone to natural hybridization, so it may be important to isolate or distance certain types of plants during flowering if you are wanting to save the seeds.
Non-GMO Verified: Seeds with this designation have been screened for the presence of contamination by GMO crops. While there are no known home-gardener seeds that are intentionally GMO, it is possible that seeds grown close to commercial fields containing GMO crops can become contaminated inadvertently (and Non-GMO Verified protects home gardeners from this).
F1: Hybrid plants require cross pollination between two distinct parent plants, and the F1 refers to seeds produced by a single generation of crosses (the F1 seeds are the direct "children" of the cross; F2 would involve a second generation cross to achieve the desired characteristics in the offspring plants, and so on).
Hybrid seeds are not GMO and are 100% acceptable under organic standards.
Hybridization occurs frequently in nature, the difference here being the crosses are controlled by the breeder. The reason for undertaking hybrid crosses is to achieve hybrid vigour, which often confers disease resistance or other helpful novel traits to hybrid plants. One down side to hybrids is that home gardeners can not reliably grow seeds saved from these plants, as the seedlings will be highly variable.
Days to Maturity: This information often gets muddled, with the most common confusion being *around whether the "days" refers to "from date of sowing" or "from date of transplant".
In practice, it is not so important to answer that question but rather to think of the days to maturity as being a guide to help plan your harvests (or flowering period, in the case of ornamental annuals).
For example, if you are perusing tomato listings and notice some are 60 days while others are 90 days, you know that growing these selections with rather different days to maturity will give you a wider window during which your tomato garden yields.
One other reason for taking a "grain of salt" approach to understanding the "days to maturity" information is that local climates as well as differences in growing conditions from year to year can drastically alter the actual maturity date for any given crop. So, really, "days" are a guideline that could just as well be re-written as early, mid-season, or late season.
*Officially the answer is: direct seeded plants are from date of outdoor sowing while indoor started or nursery plants are from date of transplant to final growing space.
Zone Hardiness: This refers to the biological life span of a given plant selection; in the case of botanical perennials, this also refers to a score based on the USDA zone hardiness scale that describes a plants ability to survive winter conditions (zones 1 - 11, with the Winnipeg area being between zone 3 and zone 4).
Some common zone hardiness descriptions we use are:
- Annual, which completes its life cycle in a single season
- Re-Seeding Annual, which often self-seeds in the garden but never regrows from the same roots regardless of zone
- Biennial, which grows for two seasons then ends its life cycle after flowering in the second year
- Zone hardy perennial, which grows back year after year from the same roots, and will have a rating of zone 1 through 11
Exposure: This describes the light requirements of a plant, and is very important to the concept of "right plant, right place" that underpins success with gardening.
For outdoor plants, the following are the well accepted standards for exposure:
- Full sun = 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight
- Part sun = 4 - 6 hours of direct sunlight
- Part shade = 3 - 6 hours of direct light, or indirect brightness
- Shade = less than four hours of light (often plants listed as "shade" prefer morning light and afternoon protection from intense sun); most shade plants do require a few hours of light per day