Become a Skilled Horticulturist
Lay the foundation for starting your career as a horticulturist. After completing the core modules of this course, students can choose one of three elective streams, Crops, Landscaping, or Amenity Horticulture.
This course consists of 5 core modules and 3 electives. These are listed below.
Practical Horticulture I
plus one other crops module of your choosing
Meet One Of Our Tutors
Diana Cole B.A. (Hons), Higher Dip. (Garden Design), RHS Advanced Cert. Horticulture, Cert Admin.Mgt., Dip. Inst. Personnel Management
In addition to her RHS horticulture, garden design, City & Guild construction, NPTC pesticide/legislation and business/management qualifications, Diana has a variety of skills drawn from setting up Arbella Gardens, a landscape gardening business. She also has administrative, management and training delivery experience drawn from her employment in other organisations such as the NHS and other educational institutions such as schools & universities. She has augmented her training expertise having gained the Preparing to Teach in the Life Long Learning Sector qualification. She also has experience gained through working as a volunteer in a number of different roles including amenity style gardening in parks and practical conservation work.
Soils are the Starting Point
A good soil results in good plant growth. Poor soil leads to weak and often unhealthy plants.
From this p[perspective; it is critical to understand soils; and manage your soil to be appropriate to the plants grown in it. If you can do this well, you will have a healthy, better looking garden or farm, with plants that produce better and require less attention.
Monitor the Soil and Treat it Accordingly
Soil scientists, farmers, horticulturists, engineers, environmentalists, and various other professions will select and use a combination of different soil tests, according to their own needs; and their capacity to carry out those tests.
Farmers, Nurserymen and Landscapers; for example, will need to know how well a soil might grow plants, and they will choose soil tests to provide information pertinent to that concern.
Engineers may be more concerned with what foundations might be required for a building or road; and will select and use soil tests to serve that purpose.
Environmentalists may have more concern for soil stability (eg. will it erode or alter chemically in response to disturbance?), and in turn, choose tests that indicate characteristics that relate to stability.
The type of tests used will also depend upon the resources (including money, time and equipment) available to conduct tests.
Some soil tests require relatively unsophisticated and inexpensive materials or equipment; while other tests require complex and expensive equipment, and highly specialized skills. The more sophisticated tests generally provide the most precise results; but in many cases this might be unnecessary.
e. g. If a farmer knows the ph of a soil is around 7 to 7.5; that is often good enough. To know that it is 7.46 rather than 7.32 is unlikely to make any real difference to the way he treats the soil.
Soils do Change from Place to Place
Soil characteristics can change over remarkably short distances; particularly when they are soils that have been used by humans.
Fertiliser, lime, chemical pesticides, irrigation, cultivation or other treatments may have been applied to one plot of land, but not on the adjacent plot. The long term result may be that one plot is more fertile, more compacted, has lower levels of organic matter, be more polluted, or have a different pH or EC (i.e. Electro Conductivity).
Even soils that are relatively untouched by humans can vary from place to place e.g. consider if a large animal died in one spot, it’s body rotted, and was incorporated into the soil over a period of years, making that spot more acid, higher in organic matter, and more capable of retaining water, than the surrounding soil.
Given that soil can vary greatly from one spot to the next, it is important to have a test samples that are representative of the whole area you are seeking results for. It is also important to recognise that you may need to do a different set of tests for an area which is suspected to have different soil characteristics (on a property being tested) e.g. If you are testing several acres, and some has sandier soil than the rest, you may need to do one set of tests for the sandier area; and another set for the less sandy area. If one area has been growing a very different type of vegetation to another; it may be wise to undertake a different set of tests on that area also.
Soils do Change from Time to Time
Soils are dynamic. If you do a test one year on a soil, don’t expect the soil’s nature to be exactly the same a year later. Even the time of day or the season that a sample was taken can alter the test results.
Animal and plant material drops on soil, rots down and changes both the physical and chemical characteristics. People or animals move across the surface and compact the soil. Rain settles the soil, sometimes increasing its density, and wind blows particles off the surface of a soil.
Fertilising, chemical spills, fire and other activity on the surface can change a soil’s nature. The activity of small animals and micro-organisms can also change its nature. Plants growing in a soil extract nutrients.
All of these things and more mean a soil is a dynamic, continually changing thing.