Online Course -or alternatively, study by Distance education using paper based notes or a CD
Carve out a lifelong career in the Horticultural Cropping industry
This is a very solid training program for anyone wishing to develop a career in horticultural crop production.
The course has two parts. The first part provides a very sound and broad based foundation in horticultue; over the following fifteen lessons:
- Introduction To Plants
- Parts Of The Plant
- Plant Culture - Planting
- Plant Culture - Pruning
- Plant Culture - Irrigation & Machinery
- Soils & Media
- Soils & Nutrition
- Seeds & Cuttings (Propagation)
- Other Techniques (Propagation)
- Identification & Use Of Plants - Landscape Application
- Identification & Use Of Plants - Problems
- Identification & Use Of Plants - Indoor & Tropical Plants
The 15 lessons are divided into the following 6 areas:
1. INTRODUCTION TO PLANTS (40 hours)
The purpose of this study area is to explain the binomial system of plant classification and demonstrate identification of plant species through the ability of using botanical descriptions for leaf shapes and flowers.
- Describe the relevant identifying physical features of flowering ornamental plants.
- Demonstrate how to use prescribed reference books and other resources to gain relevant information.
- Dissect, draw and label two different flowers.
- Collect and identify the shapes of different leaves.
- Demonstrate how to identify between family, genus, species, variety and cultivar.
2. PLANT CULTURE (60 hours)
The purpose of this study area is to demonstrate the ability to care for plants so as to maintain optimum growth and health while considering pruning, planting, and irrigation.
- Describe how to prune different plants.
- Demonstrate how to cut wood correctly, on the correct angle and section of the stem.
- Describe how to plant a plant.
- Demonstrate an awareness of different irrigation equipment, sprinklers, pumps and turf systems available by listing their comparative advantages and disadvantages.
- Demonstrate competence in selecting an appropriate irrigation system for a garden, explaining the reasons why that system would be preferred.
- Define water pressure and flow rate and how to calculate each.
- Explain the need for regular maintenance of garden tools and equipment.
- List factors that should be considered when comparing different types of machinery for use in garden maintenance.
3. SOILS AND PLANT NUTRITION (50 hours)
The purpose of this study area is to provide students with the skills and knowledge to identify, work with and improve the soil condition and potting mixes, and to evaluate fertilisers for use in landscape jobs to maximize plant growth.
- Describe the soil types commonly found in plant culture in terms of texture, structure and water holding and nutrient holding capacity.
- Describe methods of improving soil structure, infiltration rate, water holding capacity, drainage and aeration.
- List the elements essential for plant growth.
- Diagnose the major nutrient deficiencies that occur in ornamental plants and prescribe treatment practices.
- Describe soil pH and its importance in plant nutrition.
- Describe the process by which salting occurs and how to minimise its effect.
- Conduct simple inexpensive tests on three different potting mixes and report accordingly.
- Describe suitable soil mixes for container growing of five different types of plants.
- List a range of both natural and artificial fertilizers.
- Describe fertilizer programs to be used in five different situations with ornamental plants.
4. INTRODUCTORY PROPAGATION (40 hours duration)
The purpose of this study area is to improve the student's understanding of propagation techniques with particular emphasis on cuttings and seeds. Other industry techniques such as grafting and budding are also explained.
- Demonstrate propagation of six (6) different plants by cuttings and three from seed.
- Construct a simple inexpensive cold frame.
- Mix and use a propagation media suited to propagating both seed and cuttings.
- Describe the method and time of year used to propagate different plant varieties.
- Describe and demonstrate the steps in preparing and executing a variety of grafts and one budding technique.
- Explain the reasons why budding or grafting are sometimes preferred propagation methods.
5. IDENTIFICATION AND USE OF PLANTS (60 hours)
The purpose of this study area is to improve the student's range of plant knowledge and the plant use in landscaping and the ornamental garden, and the realization that plants have optimum and preferred growing conditions.
- Select plants appropriate for growing in different climates.
- Select plants appropriate to use for shade, windbreaks, as a feature, and for various aesthetic effects.
- Categorise priorities which effect selection of plants for an ornamental garden.
- Explain the differences in the way plants perform in different microclimates within the same area.
- List and analyze the situations where plants are used.
6. PESTS, DISEASES AND WEEDS (50 hours)
The purpose of this study area is to introduce and help the student in identifying, describing and controlling a variety of pests, diseases and weeds in ornamental situations and safety procedures when using agricultural chemicals are explained.
- Explain in general terms the principles of pest, disease and weed control and the ecological (biological) approach to such control.
- Explain the host-pathogen-environment concept.
- Describe a variety of pesticides for control of pests, diseases and weeds of ornamental plants in terms of their active constituents, application methods, timing and rates, and safety procedures.
- Photograph or prepare specimens, identify and recommend control practices for at least five insect pests of ornamental plants.
- Photograph, sketch or prepare samples, identify and recommend control practices for three non-insect ornamental plant health problems (e.g. fungal, viral, bacterial).
- Describe the major ways in which diseases (fungal, viral, bacterial and nematode) affect turf, the life cycle features that cause them to become a serious problem to turf culture and the methods available for their control.
- Identify, describe and recommend treatment for three different weed problems.
- Collect, press, mount and identify a collection of ten different weeds, and recommend chemical and non-chemical treatments which may be used to control each.
- List and compare the relative advantages and disadvantages of different weed control methods.
Note that each module in the Qualification -Certificate In Horticulture (Crops) is a short course in its own right, and may be studied separately.
Outside or Inside Growing
Crops can either be grown in the outdoors, exposed to the natural elements, or indoors (eg. in a greenhouse) where the environment is controlled to a greater or lesser extent.
Indoor growing is obviously more costly, but it can also be more controlled and productive.
Growers choose to grow crops indoors because there are distinct advantages in doing so. If the advantage does not exist, it is better to grow outside.
Conditions in a greenhouse or glasshouse can be different to growing plants out in the open. While a greenhouse does some very positive things for the plant (e.g. protects from frost, wind and cold etc.) it can, unless watched, also some negative effects on the plant.
Humidity (amount of water vapour in the air) is usually higher, imbalances can occur in the proportions of gasses making up the air and the temperature can sometimes go too high in a glasshouse unless proper controls are instituted. All of these three things can influence the performance of different plants in different ways.
For fruit to be produced by most plants, pollen (a dust like material which is equivalent to male sperm) must move from where it is formed on a flower to settle on the stigma (another flower part) and hence fertilize the female part of the flower. If this process doesn't happen properly or on the right scale, the flower is not fertilized and usually the fruit will abort (drop off before developing). In a glasshouse, the high humidity can cause the pollen to stick and not move as easily. The fact that a glasshouse is shut off from the outside can restrict the movement of insects which might normally transfer pollen from flower to flower. It can become necessary with some plants for the grower to move the pollen about by hand.
Tomatoes grown in glasshouses are usually pollinated by hand every one or two days after flowering begins. The best time to do this is on bright sunny days between 10 am and 3 pm. If there is cloudy weather for more than 2 days, raise the temperature to 24 to 26 degrees C for 1 hour before you pollinate. Immediately after, lower the temperature to 18 to 21 degrees C. Ventilation will also help pollination of tomatoes. If there is no significant problem with humidity, tomatoes may pollinate without assistance.
Low temperatures seem to affect tomato pollination of flowers a couple of weeks after the period of low temperature. While flowers already open might pollinate, flowers which open about 2 weeks after temperatures below 14 degrees C pollinate poorly in a glasshouse. Day temperatures over 32 degrees C and night temps over 18 degrees C also cause pollination.
This problem is more severe late spring and early autumn than at other times. Cracking becomes worse as fruit ripens. Shading the greenhouse (with tomatoes) in very warm weather or harvesting before full ripening will help reduce cracking problems. Excessive moisture (over watering) can also be a cause of cracking in a wide range of fruit and vegetables.
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