Course Title: Horticulture – the Basics
Horticulture – the Basics
Understanding our plants and how their relationship to their location, growing practices and the environment is an area which brings huge joy to horticulturalists, gardeners and botanists, whether they are growing plants for personal or commercial use.
This course has been designed to give you a good introduction to many of the principles of good horticultural practice. You will learn, or add to your existing knowledge about plants, how they work, why they do well, or not in some cases.
You will be able to understand and relate to your site, the plants you can effectively grow there and really get to know about horticulture as a subject.
Whether you are looking to expand your knowledge so you can work more effectively in your own site, or obtain a good overview of the subject before deciding which areas you would like to study further, this course will provide a great introduction, whilst also challenging and pushing you to find out more should you wish.
Horticulture – The Basics, includes the study of:
- plant physiology.
- how to grow and maintain types of plants,
- provide the best environment for them,
- their affect on the environment and
- commercial importance of certain practices.
- protecting plants from pests and diseases,
- regulation and control of plants commercially and privately,
- naming, plant breeder’s rights
- covers some areas of botany with a wider scope.
Horticulture is not botany. Horticulture is more about the relationship between us and plants – the growing of them.
LESSON STRUCUTRE: HORTICULTURE – THE BASICS
There are 18 lessons:
2. Lawns and Grassland Part 1
- site, clearing, levelling and preparation for planting a lawn,
- different kinds of lawns and their uses
- grass seed, principal grass genera and species used in lawn seed mixtures, and their characteristics
- sowing, after care and maintenance
3. Lawns and Grasslands Part 2
- Maintenance of lawns
- Non grass lawns
- Floral meadows
4. How Plants Work
- other structures
- siting vegetables, soil and fertility, drainage
- the vegetable garden layout
- sowing vegetables
- thinning, planting
- water, feeding
- weeds, mulching, crop protection
6. Ornamental Plants and Propagation
- the different types of flowering plants
- gymnosperms, monocotyledons, dictoyledons, annuals, biennials, perennials, woody, herbaceous.
- Propagation – cuttings, division, many other kinds, grafting.
- types of soil
- organic matter and manures CE, AFP etc.
- base and top dressings
8. Trees and Shrubs
- general structure
- sepals and petals
- The Carpel – ovary, style and stigma
- Types of inflorescence
10. Pollination and Fertilisation
- fruit/seed structure and germination requirements
- types of fruit
- planting and requirements
12. Genetics and Breeding
- the genetic code
- mito· sis and meiosis
- Mendelian inheritance
- mono and dihybrid inheritance
- genotype and phenotype
- F1 hybrids and hybrid vigour
- Heterozygosity and homozygosity
- dominance and recessiveness
13. Pest, Diseases and Disorders
- damage caused by pests, diseases and disorder
- identification, symptoms and modes of attack
- control – chemical
- control – biological
- control – organic
- control – physical
- control – cultural
- A large pest
- A mite
- A Mollusc
- Insects with complete metamorphosis
- Insects with incomplete metamorphosis
- A fungus
- A virus
- A bacteria
- A nematode
- environmental disorder
- nutritional disorder
- IPM (Integrated Pest Management)
14. Plant Physiology
- nutrient cycles
- CEC, humus and organic material – breakdown pathways (macro & micro-organisms)
15. Plant Protection and Artificial Environments
- plant protection
- why protect?
- types of protection
- Controlling environmental factors
- artificial environments
- container growing – air filled porosity, stability
- non-soil growing medium – composts, loam and non-loam based
- types of containers, modules
- uptake of water by plant roots – osmosis and diffusion explained
- conduction of water
- relative humidity
- water in the soil – availability, field capacity, wilting point – permanent wilting point.
- Soil structure, water and nutrients – pores sizes, nutrient uptake effect of water on micro-organisms.
- Irrigation – types and situations for
17. Weeds and soil management
- what are weeds? Invasive plants, cultivated plants as weeds, and why they are successful
- types of weed
- treatments and control – organic, chemical and biological
- green manures, erosion control, soil management
18. Ecology and the Environment
- a brief background to ecology
- changes in agricultural practices and their effects
- carbon sinks and release
- conservation in the garden
- encouraging wildlife and the ‘green’ garden
- large scale practices to help
Please Note: There are self-assessments in each lesson and an assignment for each.
Ideally, soil provides the perfect environment for plants to grow.
Soil should provide:
- A source of valuable nutrients and trace elements.
- A good environment for beneficial soil organisms to flourish.
- A good habitat for beneficial soil fauna such as earthworms which excavate drainage channels.
- Free drainage whilst retaining enough moisture for the plant roots obtain enough.
- Good structure: not too compact so plant roots may easily grow to provide anchorage and obtain water and nutrients, but not too crumbly so the plants have enough support.The soil is very delicately balanced environment and it is important to have a good understanding of its structure, ways to improve it and maintain fertility. The formation of soils begins with parent rock. The parent rock is exposed to the elements and is weathered. Weathering is the breakdown of parent material and erosion is the movement of fragments of rock and soil.Weathering occurs under three processes Chemical, physical and biological. Chemical weathering – is mainly brought about by the action of carbonic acid.
This is produced wherever carbon dioxide and water mix, as in rainfall. Some minerals dissolve and are washed away. Others are altered chemically when the surface is exposed to water or the atmosphere.All but the inert particles are decomposed and the rock eventually crumbles as new minerals are formed and soluble material is released.Hydrolysis is the reaction that occurs when water reacts with parent rock.
Oxidation is particularly important in the formation of iron oxides which give soils their red or yellow colouring in aerobic conditions and blue or grey in anaerobic conditions. Physical or mechanical weathering – rock is broken into smaller pieces without chemical change. Occurs on exposed rock faces. Often combined with chemical weathering.
Main agents are heat, frost, water, wind and ice. In temperate zones frost is a major weathering element. Water percolates into cracks, expands when it freezes.
Layers build up and slowly, under pressure and chemical weathering, they become rock.e.g. limestone, shale and chalk. Sands which accumulate at great depths form sandstone. Due to seismic movement of the Earth many now raised above sea level. Moving water and winds are able to carry rock particles – the greater their speed, the more they can carry (their load increases) and the more they erode, carrying pageparticles away and fast-moving rivers can carry sizeable rocks whilst slow-moving ones will drop the heavier ones.
Soil development – Occurs in the loose fragments of rock overlying the earth’s crust. This is the parent material that has an important effect on the nature of the soil formed. However, it is also influenced by vegetation, climate, topography, drainage, as well as animals including man and time. Young soils are those (regosoils) that have just formed but over time they take on the characteristics that depend on the influence of the other factors to give rise to the main soil types.
Topography of the land effect how fast erosion will be at points where rock is exposed. In hollows or even small undulations, particles may become trapped and tiny plants can get hold e.g. mosses, ferns, algae, lichens.
Weathering is extended due to the increased amount of carbonic acid produced by larger root systems and depth of weathered material increases. The process of weathering which may have taken thousands of years now accelerates as living organisms become established and particles become more finely divided.
The physical characteristics of a soil are usually established by referring to the layers or horizons in the soil profile. L layer – the litter layer which has not yet been incorporated into the soil. O layer – organic layer – semi-decomposed organic material and humus.
A layer – topsoil – the upper layer of soil from which nutrients are washed downwards. Usually darker due to significant levels of humus present. Humus is decayed organic material incorporated well into the soil profile.
Layer -The lighter layer below is the B layer where finer materials accumulate. In horticulture, the A horizon is referred to as topsoil and B as subsoil. The parent material below the layers is the C layer and is parent material. Its characteristics will affect the entire soil profile. The depth of each layer will vary according to the way in which the soil develops and conditions (compare brown earth and chalk upland).
Subsoil is usually more compact, lighter in colour and devoid of life apart from perhaps some long roots. It may be very different in structure and texture to the topsoil due to the fact that accumulations of washed down substances gather there, water drainage may not be good, it is compacted often so pore spaces are compressed. It offers anaerobic conditions.
The topsoil is far better usually for plant growth and subsoil is not mixed with topsoil. Soil texture is largely how the particle sizes are distributed or their proportions.
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