Distance Learning Course for Professional Gardeners
This course involves five parts as outlined below.
- Core Studies - the same as in the Certificate in Horticulture
- Workplace Health & Safety
- Stream Studies - to develop specific skills in one specialised area of horticulture.
- An additional elective module in Management or Business
- 100 hrs attendance at industry meetings
Course Duration = 900-1000 hrs for the average student (Note: Being self paced, the time taken depends upon the student, thew amount of time they wish to devote to study, and how well they wish to do with the course. Based on opur past experience, it is achievable for an average student to complete the course in as lttle as 900 hours).
The Core studies should be completed before anything else, as a foundation for the remainder of the course. This part will take 300 hours or more to complete and in itself if more in depthg than many foundation horticulture courses being taught elsewhere. It entails six modules as follows, Introduction to Plants, Plant Culture, Soil and Nutrition, Introductory Propagation, Plant Identification & Use, Pests, Diseases and Weeds. Two exams must be successfully completed for this part of the course. More details below
Workplace Health & Safety
This involves a standard module. There are 7 lessons as follows: Introduction; Legislation;
Handling Chemicals; Handling Equipment; Handling Objects; Standards & Rules; and Signs & Signals.
These aim to develop specific skills in one specialised area of horticulture. We offer more options for satisfying this requirement than most people expect. In effect, you have hundreds of possibilities open to you to undertake a further 300 or more hours of study into a specialist area of horticulture.
- Select three modules from a range of over 100 options to create a unique combination (Doing this allows you to obtain a set of skills that are unique and sets you apart from competition).
- Take one of the standard VHT002 certificate streams (over 15 options are offered here)
An additional elective module in Management or Business
Your selection can be negotiated with aone of the school's academic officers. We recommend the following as good options:
- Project Management
- Bookkeeping I
- Starting a Small Business
- Personnel Management
- Marketing Foundations
100 hrs attendance at industry meetings
This can be achieved by verifying attendance at a series of industry meetings, as follows:
Meetings may be seminars, conferences, trade shows, committee meetings, volunteer events (eg. Community working bees), or any other meeting where two or more industry people or people who are knowledgeable about their discipline.
Opportunity must exist for the student to learn through networking, observation and/or interaction with people who know their industry or discipline
A list of events should be submitted together with dates of each attended and times being claimed for each
Documentary evidence must be submitted to the school to indicate support each item on the above list (eg. Receipts from seminars, conference or shows, letters from committee or organisation secretaries or committee members. All such documentation must contain a contact details)
Note: Course fee does not include exam fees
Students must complete and pass all of these core units.
1. Introduction to plants Minimum 40 hours instruction
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 Minimum 60 hours instruction
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 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 types of machinery for use in garden maintenance.
3. Soils and plant nutrition Minimum 50 hours instruction
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 Minimum 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 Minimum 60 hours instruction
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 appreciation of the different optimum and preferred growing conditions for different plants.
*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 Minimum 50 hours instruction
The purpose of this study area is develop the student’s ability to identify, describe and control a variety of pests, diseases and weeds in ornamental situation, and to describe safety procedures when using agricultural chemicals.
*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.
ACS Distance Education is a College of Horticulture offering horticulture courses, as training for horticulture jobs through home Study gardener course for a career in horticulture.