Study Practical Gardening Skills to Better Manage Horticultural Enterprises
In this course, you'll learn skills that you would normally learn from working under the supervision of a horticultural expert. Note that some supervision by an independent horticultural expert, such as your work manager or other expert, is required to complete the course .
Work planning and project management is an important aspect of the type of work that would be generally carried out by the professional horticulturist. It may be in diverse areas within the horticulture industry i.e. a planting program, plant sales program, landscape project, re-vegetation project, sports or turf management, irrigation and drainage systems implementation, production planning (crops and nursery), conservation of natural resource areas, conserve a heritage area and so on. Project management may be under the broad direction of superiors in certain situations however self-directed application of knowledge that has substantial depth is expected at this level.
The course contains all the tips to develop excellent practical skills in the management of a variety of horticultural situations. It covers subject areas such as: horticultural calculations, propagation management, hard and soft landscape management, planning - identifying needs for management of horticultural sites, identifying plant tissue and much more.
This course will help you to stay ahead of the competition and fulfil your managerial or business aspirations.
Although the course covers areas complementary to Practical skills I. You can take this course by itself, though for most students it will be taken after Practical Horticulture I.
There are 11 lessons in this course:
Materials and Equipment
Practical Risk Management
Machinery and Equipment Assessment and Maintenance
Hard Landscape Maintenance
Soft Landscape Maintenance
Practical Plant Identification Techniques
Pest, Disease and Weed Control
Identifying plant tissues
Planning -identifying needs for management of horticultural sites.
Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.
Identify a range of horticultural materials and equipment and sundries
Specify assessments necessary to perform horticultural operations, and carry out calculations for these assessments
Assess horticultural situations for risks and hazards, and demonstrate methods and procedures to minimise risk
Assess the state of repair of a powered implement and carry out routine maintenance or calibration.
Organise the propagation of a range of plants
Carry out routine maintenance on a variety of hard landscape features.
Demonstrate and determine the routine maintenance and future management for production and amenity situations of a variety of soft landscape features.
Identify a range of seeds and plants
Identify a range of weeds, plant pests, diseases and disorders, and state methods of their prevention and control.
Identify plant tissues and state their functions
Carry out a planning exercise to determine future management of a given area of plants, and all hard or soft landscape features
Tips for Feeding Plants
As plants burst into spring growth, they draw heavily on nutrients in the soil. This is when they need the extra nutrients a fertiliser can give.
If inadequate nutrients are present, plant growth becomes stunted. This effect is subtle and not usually noticed until it becomes severe. The nutrient level in the soil may drop as low as 30% below the optimum before deficiency symptoms such as discolouration appear in the leaves. By this time, the overall growth rate and general health of the plant has been affected significantly.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT FERTILISER
There is a vast array of fertilisers available and every one is different. Using the wrong fertiliser or the right fertiliser at the wrong rate can create problems in your garden.
So how do you choose the right one? For a start, it’s helpful to know what the various fertiliser terms mean:
Complete fertiliser – These contain a mixture of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Some also contain calcium and sulphur, and trace elements. The formulations vary according to the plant groups for which they are designed, eg. lawns, shrubs, azaleas and camellias. They come in powdered, granular and water-soluble form and are a convenient way to provide plants with all the nutrients they are likely to need.
NPK fertilisers – Another name for ‘complete’ fertilizers (Note: NPK stands for the chemical symbols: Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium; which are the main nutrients a plant needs from a fertiliser).
Water-soluble fertilisers – These are powdered or liquid complete fertilisers that are applied as a dilute solution. They generally have a high nitrogen content and also contain trace elements. They are useful for boosting plant growth but only have a short-term effect.
Slow-release or controlled-release fertilisers – These complete fertilisers are designed to release their nutrients slowly, often up to 12 months. Some are in the form of plant pills, others are covered with a protective coating, eg. Osmocote and Nutricote. They are convenient, safe and easy to use but are more expensive than other NPK fertilisers. Some organic fertilisers such as blood and bone also release nutrients over a long period of time.
Inorganic fertilisers – Artificially-made fertilisers; includes the NPK mixtures.
Organic fertilisers – A broad term for naturally-occurring fertilisers; includes animal manure and animal by-products such as blood and bone, mushroom and other composts, green manures, seaweed and worm casts. The nutrient content is variable, depending on the source of the fertiliser. Some commercially prepared organic fertilisers have known levels of nutrients that are listed on the packet.
When you choose a fertiliser think about the following:
- convenience and ease of use
- the type of plants you are fertilising and the time of year
- the soil type (clay soils hold fertilisers better than sandy soils)
- how quickly you want the plants to grow
- how much you’re prepared to spend
- whether you prefer to rely on organic fertilisers
ORGANIC versus INORGANIC FERTILISERS – Which is better?
It makes no difference to the plants whether you apply artificial or organic fertilisers. They simply absorb whatever nutrients are available in the soil.
BUT there are important differences (eg. the way they work; levels of pollution created in their production; residues on unused by products left behind, etc).
- inorganic fertilisers release nutrients quickly, producing rapid plant growth
- many inorganic fertilisers can burn plants if applied at high doses
- many inorganic fertilisers have a short-term effect and need to be applied frequently to maintain growth
- inorganic fertilisers can leave undesirable chemical residues in the soil
- most organic fertilisers are safe to use and won’t burn the plants (except some fresh manures which should be aged before use)
- most organic fertilisers improve the texture and structure of the soil, thereby improving air and water uptake (exceptions are powdered organic fertilisers such as blood and bone)
- some organic fertilisers don’t contain many nutrients – their main value is as a soil-improver
HOW MUCH FERTILISER TO APPLY
It is always better to apply too little than too much. You can always add more, but you can't take it out of the soil and put it back in the bag!
Always read the instructions on fertiliser packets. If applying fertiliser to young plants or less hardy plants (eg. ferns and some indoor plants) you are better to put on less fertiliser.