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Protected Plant Production

Course CodeBHT223
Fee CodeS2
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

Add Advanced Growing Skills to Your Repertoire

The course covers the protection, production and management of protected plants. 

  • Learn to grow crops or other plants in a greenhouse, shade house or other protected environment.
  • Discover ways to grow plants in places they might not normally be grown.
  • Learn techniques to grow plants faster and out of season, for the nursery trade or fruit, vegetable and flower markets.

Lesson Structure

There are 7 lessons in this course:

  1. Structures for Protected Cropping
  2. Environmental Control
  3. Cladding Materials and their Properties
  4. Irrigation and Nutrition
  5. Relationship between Production techniques and Horticultural practices
  6. Harvest and Post Harvest Technology
  7. Risk Assessment

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.


  • Describe and Evaluate the type and shape of modern growing structures.
  • Describe and evaluate environmental controls in protected cropping.
  • Explain the nature of solar radiation, transmission properties of glass and its substitutes.
  • Determine the water requirements of a crop; and methods of irrigation.
  • Relate horticultural principles to the production and harvesting of a range of crops.
  • Evaluate the factors involved in marketing protected crops.
  • Undertake risk assessment.

What You Will Do

  • Identify the main types of growing structure
  • Relate use of structures to shape and type of construction
  • Identify the range of environmental factors controlled within a growing structure
  • Describe the use of the equipment used to measure and monitor these factors
  • Name and describe a range of types of environmental controls
  • Evaluate the use of IT facilities for environmental control
  • Describe the meaning of daylight and explain the role of sunlight and diffused light
  • Relate time of year to the quantity and quality of available light
  • Evaluate how the shape and orientation of a structure will affect light transmission
  • Assess the effectiveness of glass and cladding alternatives for light transmission
  • Describe the durability and insulation properties of glass and alternative materials
  • Select and describe appropriate systems of irrigation for plants grown in situ
  • Select and describe appropriate systems of irrigation for container grown plants
  • Specify and evaluate systems for incorporating plant nutrients into the irrigation water
  • Explain the effects of environmental control on a range of plants
  • Relate the essential features necessary for successful plant establishment and development to their underlying scientific principles.
  • Describe the production of a range of crops
  • State the optimum stage of growth for harvesting a range of crops
  • Describe the harvesting systems for protected crops
  • Explain how shelf life can be affected by pre and post harvesting treatment of the crop.
  • State the factors to be considered when marketing crops.
  • Evaluate alternative marketing outlets.
  • Relate packaging & presentation to marketing.
  • Assess benefits to the grower and customer, of grading a crop before marketing.
  • Determine elements of risk in the practical operations associated with protected plant production.
  • Identify safe working practices.

Protected Growing is Used for both Crops and Ornamentals

All manner of structures can be used to either keep plants from getting too hot, or too cold; and in doing so, allow them to start growing earlier or later in a season. Protecting plants with greenhouses, shade houses, cloches or cold frames, is a well established horticultural practice. Learning about these structures, and how to use them appropriately, is what this course is all about.
Cloches may be provide adequate protection for starting some seeds or easily grown cuttings. They are also used to cover crops over winter or early spring, before the weather warms up. 
Cuttings might be directly planted in the ground, or in a pot, then covered with the cloche.
Cloches are small plastic or glass covers (perhaps only 30cm tall) which can be placed over plants particularly when they are young and susceptible to frosts, then removed later in the season as the plants begin to establish and the danger of frost goes. 
Cuttings or seed of most plants can be started in a cold frame, however, the speed with which they form roots, and the % success rate will vary.
The frame is a simple structure, with fixed sides (eg. wood, brick, fibreglass) and a hinged top to let the light through (eg. glass, fibreglass or plastic). The cold frame can be any size, up to about a metre high. The top is at an angle (so water can run off, and the sun enters at nearly right angle) and can be opened and closed for access and to allow air in, depending on the weather.
Opening and closing the lid controls the temperature and humidity. The advantage over a glasshouse is that you get more space for fewer materials. They can be moved around to find the best spot, or changed from a sunny position to shade depending on the season. They can be designed so that new frames can be attached to previously built frames. The disadvantages are that you are working at ground height and not at a bench, and because of the smaller internal volume, the frame can heat up and cool down faster, and so it needs to be watched more closely. The angle of the top faces nearly at right angles to the sun, in an easterly or northerly direction. The back wall faces west or south.
There are many different types of greenhouses, some are large and others small, some are inexpensive and others expensive. Each type has its own characteristics, and to achieve the very best results, you might choose one type over the others, because it better suits the plants you want to propagate.
Short Wall Greenhouses 
These have transparent material over the roof and only part of the sides. (Part of the walls are covered with non transparent material such as timber or brick). As such, the lower walls can be more insulated against cold or heat.
Long Wall Greenhouses
In these, the transparent material covers all of the walls and all of the roof, allowing greater penetration of light.
Tunnel Greenhouses
These have a framework made from half circle metal hoops arranged in a row to form a tunnel shape. Transparent material is laid over this framework ( PVC film or more solid plastics are most commonly used). They are an inexpensive construction, and may not last for a hundred years, but for most plants, they do the job. Usually ventilation (and cooling) is achieved by opening both ends. Long tunnel houses can be more difficult to cool down on a hot day than greenhouses that have vents along the long walls as well as at the ends.
Lean To Greenhouses
This is a structure attached to the side of another building (eg a house). The "other" building provides one side wall for the greenhouse, providing insulation and reducing the materials needed to build the structure.
These are usually a simple timber or metal framework above plants; covered with either shade
cloth or some other material (e.g. branches, timber slats). Providing shade like this will keep an area from rexperiencing the extreme heat or cold (both) in an open situation. It can also reduce exposure to wind, damaging rain and hail, snow, and intense light. Some plants (e.g. shade loving ferns and orchids), may be best grown in a shade house permenantly; while other plants are only kept for a period inder shade, while young and tender. 

Meet some of our academics

Rosemary Davies Leading horticultural expert in Australia. Rosemary trained in Horticultural Applied Science at Melbourne University. Initially she worked with Agriculture Victoria as an extension officer, taught horticulture students, worked on radio with ABC radio (clocking up over 24 years as a presenter of garden talkback programs, initially the only woman presenter on gardening in Victoria) and she simultaneously developed a career as a writer. She then studied Education and Training, teaching TAFE apprentices and developing curriculum for TAFE, before taking up an offer as a full time columnist with the Herald and Weekly Times and its magazine department after a number of years as columnist with the Age. She has worked for a number of companies in writing and publications, PR community education and management and has led several tours to Europe. In 1999 Rosemary was BPW Bendigo Business Woman of the Year and is one of the founders and the Patron, of the Friends of the Bendigo Botanic gardens. She has completed her 6th book this year and is working on concepts for several others. Rosemary has a B Ed, BSc Hort, Dip Advertising & Marketing
John Mason Parks Manager, Nurseryman, Landscape Designer, Garden Writer and Consultant. Over 40 years experience; working in Victoria, Queensland and the UK. He is one of the most widely published garden writers in the world; author of more than 70 books and editor for 4 different gardening magazines. John has been recognised by his peers being made a fellow of the Institute of Horticulture in the UK, as well as by the Australian Institute of Horticulture.
Dr. Lynette MorganBroad expertise in horticulture and crop production. She travels widely as a partner in Suntec Horticultural Consultants, and has clients in central America, the USA, Caribbean, South East Asia, the Middle East, Australia and New Zealand.
Yvonne SharpeRHS Cert.Hort, Dip.Hort, M.Hort, Cert.Ed., Dip.Mgt. Over 30 years experience in business, education, management and horticulture. Former department head at a UK government vocational college. Yvonne has traveled widely within and beyond Europe, and has worked in many areas of horticulture from garden centres to horticultural therapy. She has served on industry committees and been actively involved with amateur garden clubs for decades.

Check out our eBooks

Starting a Nursery or Herb FarmThis is both a guide to “how to propagate plants” as well as an exploration of the possibility of starting a small nursery or herb business that could eventually grow into a blossoming business! It's often amazing how much can be produced, and the profit that can be made from a few hundred square meters of land. Since it was first published by “Grass Roots” in 1981, we have lost count of the hundreds of people who have told us how this book kicked off a successful business or career for them. 63 pages
Tropical PlantsA comprehensive ebook that covers hundreds of plant genera, species and cultivars suited to the tropics and subtropics such as indoor plants and those grown in protected areas in milder climates. Chapters include: How to Grow Tropicals, Bulbs and Perennials, Low Growing Plants, Climbers, Trees and Shrubs, Creepers, Conifers, Bamboos and Grasses, and Palms. Previously published in print form by Kangaroo Press (Simon and Schuster). 120 pages, 137 photos
Plant Pests & DiseasesThis is a great guide to understanding, identifying and treating problems in your garden. Discover how to systematically examine and determine what is wrong with plants. Read about all of the main types of pests, diseases, and other problems that can occur, from frost damage to viruses. 197 pages
Growing & Using Capsicums & ChilliesGet to know more about Capsicums and Chillies with brightly illustrated ebook- Growing and Using Capsicums and Chillies. With 71 pages of wonderful facts about capsicums and chillies, this ebook will have you growing, knowing and cooking your own delicious home grown capsicums.