Practical Horticulture I

Learn practical horticulture skills studying from home. Theory and practical tasks in soil analysis, plant propagation, identification of plants, pests and weeds, risk assessment.

Course Code: BHT238
Fee Code: S3
Duration (approx) Duration (approx) 100 hours
Qualification Statement of Attainment
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Learn Practical Skills by Home Study: Distance education IS Practical -more than most people think!




Here are some examples of what you may do:

  • Test soils to determine characteristics which would be valuable to management of any given soil in a horticultural situation
  • Identify sandy loam, silty loam, and clay loam soils by feel; and pH testing by soil indicator; and relate to plant selection
  • Identify and sow a range of different types of seeds, in different situations, in a way that will optimise successful propagation.
  • Propagate a range of plants using different vegetative propagation techniques
  • Pot up and provide after care for a range of propagated seedlings and cuttings.
  • Plant a range of (different types) plant material.
  • Maintain the desired growth type and habit for a range of plants.
  • Identify significant woody plants including: Trees; Shrubs; Ground cover; and Conifers
  • Identify a range of significant plant problems including pests, diseases and others.
  • Identify a range of non woody and indoor plants of horticultural significance.
  • Conduct a risk assessment of a horticultural workplace to determine safe working practices and select appropriate personal safety clothing and equipment

Lesson Structure

There are 10 lessons in this course:

  1. Soil Analysis
    • Soil Analysis
    • Testing Your Soil
    • Good Soil Structure
    • Simple Soil Test
    • Naming The Soil
    • Percolation Rates
    • Drainage Problems
    • Soil Temperature
    • How to Improve Soils
    • Soil pH
    • Methods Of Measuring Ph
    • Probe Meters
    • Colorimetric Methods
    • pH meters
    • Another Way to Measure Organic Matter in Soil
    • Terminology
  2. Seed Propagation (including seed identification)
    • Growing Plants from Seed
    • Hygiene
    • How to Sow Seeds in Containers
    • Germination
    • Preparation of Seed Beds in the Field
    • Selected Plant Species
    • Seed Propagating Media
    • General Characteristics
    • Cation Exchange Capacity
    • Seed Compost
    • Commonly Used Mixes
    • Terminology
  3. Vegetative Propagation
    • The Techniques
    • Classification Of Cutting Types
    • Equipment
    • Procedures For Taking Cuttings
    • Types Of Cuttings
    • Stem Cuttings
    • Herbaceous Cutting
    • Tip Cutting
    • Heel Cutting
    • Nodal Cutting
    • Basal Cutting
    • Cane Cutting
    • Leaf Cutting Techniques
    • Root Cutting
    • Bulb Cuttings
    • Improving Strike Rate
    • Terminology
  4. Potting up and After Care of young plants
    • Transplanting Between Pots
    • Stop Roots Growing into The Soil
    • What is a Perched Water Table?
    • Drainage Holes
    • Potting Up a Plant
    • Potting Up Cuttings
    • Pricking Out or Tubing Seedlings
    • Setting out Cuttings
    • Potting up a hanging basket
    • Porous pots need different treatment
    • Plant Modification to Achieve Uniformity
    • Modification Techniques
    • Spacing
    • Staking
    • Growing-On Areas for Container Plants
    • Chemical Growth Modification
  5. Planting
    • General Planting Considerations
    • Problems With Containers
    • How To Maintain Plants in Pots
    • Types Of Pots
    • Bare Rooted Plants
    • Planting
    • Hints For Planting
    • Drainage
    • Improving Infiltration of Water into The Soil
    • Improving Surface Drainage After Construction
    • Provision Of Sub Surface Drains
    • Layout Of Drains
    • Outlet
    • Gradients
    • Distance Between Drainage Pipes
    • Depth Of Drains
    • Types Of Drains
    • Laying The Drain
    • Surface Drainage
    • Some Points to Remember When Designing a Drainage System
    • Terminology
  6. Maintenance of Established Plants
    • Pruning In the Home Garden
    • The Basic Rules of Pruning
    • Getting Pruned
    • Selecting Your Secateurs
    • Winter Pruning
    • General Principles
    • How To Do It
    • Pruning Tools
    • Some Examples of Winter Pruning
    • Pollarding
    • Plants That Respond Well to Pruning Include:
    • How To Prune a Rose
    • Clean Out Your Dead Wood
    • Wood Rots
    • Dead Heading
    • Is Annual Pruning Enough?
    • What Is Compartmentalisation?
    • What About Wound Treatments?
    • What About Compost – Doesn’t It Spread Disease?
    • Pruning In the Home Orchard
    • Terminology
    • How To Use Trimmers
    • Pruning Tomatoes
    • Root Pruning
    • How To Trim a Hedge
    • Training
    • Terminology
  7. Practical Plant Identification – Woody Plants
    • Plant Names
    • Common Names
    • Scientific Names
    • What Is the Difference Between Families
    • Common Names
    • Scientific Names
    • What Is the Difference Between Families
  8. Pest, Disease and Weed Identification
    • Pests
    • Diseases
    • Diagnosis of Problems
    • Finding Out What the Problem Is
    • Conducting An Inspection
    • Tell Tale Symptoms
    • Is There More Than One Problem?
    • Develop A Systematic and Logical Approach to Inspecting the Plant
    • Conducting An Inspection
    • Diagnosis Of Plant Disorders
    • Shortcuts To Problem Identification
    • Difficult To Diagnose Problems
    • Integrated Pest Management (IPM)
    • Weeds
    • Common Terms
  9. Practical Plant Identification – Non-Woody Plants Including Grasses and Indoor Plants
    • Choosing The Right Lawn
    • Turf Varieties
    • Lawn Mixes
    • What To Grow Where
    • Cool Winters/Dry Summers
    • Mild Summers/Cold Winters
    • Fescues, Kentucky Blue Grass, Rye Grass, Couch.
    • Tropical
    • Bulbs
    • What Spring Bulbs Need
    • How To Grow Bulbs
    • Bulbs In Subtropical and Tropical Areas
    • Indoor Plants
    • Potting
  10. Risk Assessment
    • Identifying Risk in The Workplace
    • Chainsaw Use & Safety
    • Save The Back, Use the Head! Hard Work Solutions
    • Cleaning & Sharpening Tools
    • Secateurs And Branch Pruning Tools
    • Shovels And Spades
    • Saws And Chainsaws
    • Protecting Tools from Rust
    • Maintaining Timber Handles
    • Maintaining Plastic Handles
    • Storage

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.

Principal of ACS Distance Education, John Mason, is fellow of the CIH.

Member of Study Gold Coast Education Network.

Member Nursery and Garden Industry Association.

Since 1999 ACS has been a recognised member of IARC (International Approval and Registration Centre). A non-profit quality management organisation servicing education.

How can I start this course?

You can enrol at anytime and start the course when you are ready. Enrolments are accepted all year - students can commence study at any time. All study is self paced and ACS does not set assignment deadlines.

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If a student cannot submit their assignments for 6 months to ACS, they should advise the school to avoid cancellation of their student
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Our courses are written in English and we only have English speaking academic staff. If you can read and complete your assignments in English, our courses are ideal for you.

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This course has been designed to cover the fundamentals of the topic. It will take around 100 hours to complete, which includes your course reading, assignment work, research, practical tasks, watching videos and anything else that is contained in the course. Our short courses are a great way to do some professional development or to learn a new skill.

It’s up to you. The study hours listed in the course are a rough guide, however if you were to study a short course (100 hours) at 10 hours per week, you could finish the course in 10 weeks (just an example). Our courses are self-paced, so you can work through the courses in your own time. We recommend that you wait for your tutor to mark and return your assignment before your start your next one, so you get the benefits of their feedback.

The course consists of course notes, videos, set tasks for your practical work, online quizzes, an assignment for each lesson (that you receive feedback from your tutor from) and ends in an exam (which is optional, if would like to receive the formal award at the end), using our custom built Learning Management System - Login.Training.

Our courses are designed for adults to gain professional development and skills to further their careers and start businesses.

Our custom online learning portal allows you to conduct your learning online. There may be practical tasks that you can do offline. You have the option of downloading your course notes or print them to read later.

There is also the option to pay an additional fee for printed course notes and or USB (availability limited to location and deliverability).

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We offer printed notes for an additional fee. Also, you can request your course notes on a USB stick for an additional fee.

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We are more learning focussed, rather than assessment focussed. You have online quizzes to test your learning, written assignments and can complete an exam at the end of the course (if you want to receive your certificate). You will not receive a pass/ fail on your course work. If you need to add more details on your assignment, we will ask you to resubmit and direct you where you need to focus. If you need help, you can ask your tutor for advice in the student room.

Each module (short course) is completed with one exam.

Exams are optional, however you must sit an exam if you would like to receive a formal award. You will need to find someone who can supervise that you are sitting the exams under exams conditions. There is an additional cost of $60 incl. GST for each exam.
More information is here

There are practical components built into the course that have been designed to be achieved by anyone, anywhere. If you are unable to complete a task for any reason, you can ask your tutor for an alternative.

When you complete the course work and the exam and you will be able receive your course certificate- a Statement of Attainment. Otherwise, you can receive a Letter of Completion.

You can bundle the short courses to create your own customised learning bundle, Certificates or Advanced Certificates. More information is on this page.

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ACS Distance Education have been educating people for over 40 years.

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Course Contributors

The following academics were involved in the development and/or updating of this course.

John Mason (Horticulturist)

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.

Adriana Fraser (Horticulturist)

Over 30 years working in horticulture, as a gardener, propagator, landscape designer
, teacher and consultant. Adriana has spent much of her life living on large properties, developing and maintaining her own gardens, and living a semi self sufficient lifestyle. She has decades of practical experience growing her own fruit, vegetables and herbs, and making her own preserves. She is well connected with horticulture professionals across Australia, and amongst other things, for a period, looked after Australia's national collection of Thymus. Advanced Diploma in Horticulture, Advanced Certificate in Horticulture.

Jacinda Cole (Horticulturist)

B.Sc., Cert.Garden Design. Landscape Designer, Operations Manager, Consultant, Garden Writer.
She was operations manager for a highly reputable British Landscape firm (The Chelsea Gardener) before starting up her own landscaping firm. She spent three years working in our Gold Coast office, as a tutor and writer for Your Backyard (gardening magazine) which we produced monthly for a Sydney punlisher between 1999 and 2003. Since then, Jacinda has contributed regularly to many magazines, co authored several gardening books and is currently one of the "garden experts" writing regularly for the "green living" magazine "Home Grown".

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