NURSERY HANDS COURSE

Learn the skills for day to day work in a plant nursery. Improve your employment prospects; or train your staff. Use different propagation techniques to propagate plants and identify a variety of plants.

Course Code: VHT102
Fee Code: S2
Duration (approx) Duration (approx) 100 hours
Qualification Statement of Attainment
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A nursery hand can be employed to assist with any or all of the daily tasks in a nursery from plant maintenance to potting up. Plant nurseries across the world are always looking for skilled nursery hands with a capacity to identify and understand plants and learn new tasks quickly and effectively as needed. This course provides a sound foundation for exactly that need.

Working as a nursery hand can be a career in itself; or the first step in a progression to propagator, and eventually through to manager.

Lesson Structure

There are 11 lessons in this course:

  1. Introduction to the Nursery Industry: production systems, transport regulations, PVR
  2. Plant Identification and Taxonomy: systematic botany, plant families, leaf and flower parts
  3. Nursery Structures and Buildings: greenhouse management, structures for nurseries
  4. Potting Mixes: U.C. soil mixes, understanding soils, growing media
  5. Seed Propagation: quality, sources, storage, germination treatments
  6. Cutting Propagation: stock plants, hormones
  7. Other Propagation Techniques: tissue culture, division, separation, layering, grafting
  8. Plant Nutrition in the Nursery: nutrition management,
  9. Pests and Diseases Control: hygiene
  10. Other Nursery Tasks: nursery irrigation, modifying plant growth
  11. Marketing and Sales: sales methods

Aims

  • Explain plant propagation techniques and efficiency and quality control measures for the nursery.
  • Explain identifying and naming plants through International Code of Botanical Nomenclature.
  • Describe pros and cons of different nursery structures and understand effective management techniques.
  • Describe different types of potting mix, their uses and pros and cons.
  • Discuss different sources, maintenance of genetic identity, hybridisation techniques, storage and germination; of seeds.
  • Explain different means of propagating cuttings.
  • Explain alternative methods of propagation and their appropriate uses.
  • Discuss the importance of major and minor elements to plant health and the effect of their deficiencies upon plant nutrition.
  • Explain the effects of pests and diseases on the livelihood of the nursery and the importance of good hygiene standards in their control.
  • Explain different methods of controlling plant growth.

What You Will Do

  • Speak with a nurseryman who sells plants to research shipping plants to other localities.
  • Collect, dissect and observe flowers and leaves from six different plant species belonging to two plant families.
  • Speak to some of the nurserymen you have contacted throughout the course to date. Find out what you can about their preferences for different types of greenhouses and different shade houses.
  • Prepare two different types of propagating media; a soil-less potting media for general use in container growing of plants and a general potting mix containing some soil.
  • Contact and collect catalogues from at least six different seed suppliers.
  • Collect seed from at least three different plants growing in gardens or bushland and sow this seed.
  • Contact (by phone) at least six different nurseries to research seed sourcing.
  • Prepare a pot of cuttings and estimate the cost of production for each cutting produced.
  • Obtain some pieces of wood and practice preparation of grafts and buds. Prepare three other grafts on a living plant.
  • Visit or contact a nursery or stock agent who supplies fertilisers. Research the various types of fertilisers available and their appropriate applications.
  • Obtain a soil-less growing medium (such as vermiculite, perlite, sand and so on or a mixture), which has had no fertilizers added to it at all. Fill 4 pots with this medium and plant 4 seedling plants into the pot. Obtain some different types of fertilizers and feed three of the pots, each with a different fertilizer...do not feed the fourth pot at all. Grow for 2 to 3 weeks and then observe the differences in growth between each pot.
  • Identify as many pest or disease problems as you are able to for a given set of plants.
  • Contact three irrigation companies to find out what types of irrigation equipment are available for nursery irrigation. Try to get a comparison on prices between the cheaper systems and the more expensive systems which are available.
  • Visit two different nurseries to research the techniques which are used in modifying plant growth.



Course Contributors

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

Adriana Fraser (Horticulturist)

Adriana has worked in horticulture since the 1980's. She has lived what she preaches - developing large gardens and growing her own fruit, vegetables and herbs and making her own preserves.
In 1992 she formalised her training by graduating with a certif

Bob James (Horticulturist)

Bob has over 50 years of experience in horticulture across both production sectors (Crops and nursery) and amenity sectors of the industry.
He holds a Diploma in Agriculture and Degree in Horticulture from the University of Queensland; as well as a Maste

Maggi Brown

Maggi is the classic UK "plantswoman". She can identify thousands of plants, and maintains her own homes and gardens in the Cotswolds (England), and near Beziers (in Southern France). Maggi is regarded as a leading organics expert across the UK, having w

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