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Distance Learning Study for Practical Skills and a Career in Professional Herb Production
'“This is beyond what you would learn in a Trade Certificate in Horticulture. It teaches you everything a tradesman would learn about plant culture; and more science, plus more plant identification than what an average tradesperson whould know” - John Mason Dip.Hort.Sc., Cert.Supn, FIOH, FPLA, Professional Horticulturist for over 40 years, Garden Author and educator
“Learn to grow plants first! This may sound simple but in reality a herb is a plant like any other, and to be truly successful in this field you will need the general horticultural knowledge offered through this terrific course. The second half of the course focuses on the diverse aspects of herb growing from medicine to farming. A wonderful course in an exciting field.” - Adriana Fraser Cert.Hort., Cert.Child Care, Adv.Cert.App.Mgt., Cert 1V Assessment and Training, Adv.Dip.Hort, LC Tutor.
This course is made up of the following two PARTS:
1. CORE STUDIES - at least 350 hours of study, or half the course. The student completes 15 lessons on general horticulture.
2. STREAM STUDIES - a further 300-350 hrs of study specifically on herbs. The student completes 3 additional elective modules on the cultivation, uses, and marketing of herbs.
These involve 15 lessons in general horticulture, as follows:
1. Introduction to Plants - Nomenclature and taxonomy, the plant kingdom, genus, species, hybrids
2. Parts of the Plant - How plants grow, plant structure, parts of the flower and leaf, modification of stems and roots
3. Plant Culture - Planting - How to plant and protect newly planted specimens, terms like: annuals, biennials, perennials, deciduous, evergreen and herbaceous plants
4. Plant Culture - Pruning - Purposes of pruning, rules for pruning, how to prune
5. Plant Culture - Irrigation and Machinery - Different irrigation systems, components of an irrigation system, designing an irrigation system, maintenance in the garden and of tools
6. Soils and Media - Soil classifications, testing soil, potting mixes, the U.C. System, ingredients of potting mixes
7. Soils and Nutrition - Fertilisers, deficiencies and toxicities, N:P:K ratios, salting, fertiliser programming, compost
8. Propagation - Seeds and Cuttings - How to propagate plants with the two easiest techniques, propagating mixes, cold frame construction, after care for young plants
9. Propagation - Other Techniques - Other methods to increase plant numbers - budding, grafting, layering, division and tissue culture
10. Identification and Use of Plants - How are plants used in the landscape, how to choose and purchase plants, selecting plants suitable for the climate and site
11. Identification and Use of Plants - Problems with plants and choosing plants for problem site
12. Identification and Use of Plants - Indoor and Tropical Plants, flowers, herbs, bulbs, ferns
13. Pests - Identifying and controlling pests, chemical and natural methods for control, chemical safety precautions
14. Diseases - Identifying and controlling diseases, plant pathology, fungi, viruses, non pathogenic problems, interactions with the host and the environment
15. Weeds - Identifying and controlling weeds, chemical terminology.
Stream studies: Herbs
The stream studies are made up of three modules, as follows:
Herb Culture (outlined below)
PLUS any TWO of the following:
SOME STREAM MODULES OUTLINES
This course is divided into 12 units, each containing one or more lesson.
Unit 1: Introduction To Herb Culture
Lesson I Introduction to herbs - classification of herbs; use of a botanical key
Lesson II Cultural techniques - planting, drainage, feeding, mulching, composting, pruning
Lesson III Propagation techniques - propagation mixes, growing structures, cuttings, seed, separation and division, layering
Lesson IV Identification of plant health problems – pests, disease, frost, heat, water stress
Unit 2: Using Herbs
Lesson I Processing and uses of herbs - medicinal, culinary, perfumes, dyes, oils, distillation
Lesson II Harvesting and storage – drying; freezing, fresh storage, when and how to harvest
Unit 3: The Mints (Lamiaceae)
Lesson I Mentha species - peppermint, spearmint, applemint, wintermint, pennyroyal, corsican, ginger mint etc.
Lesson II Lavender (Lavendula varieties) and thyme (Thymus).
Lesson III : Assorted Lamiaceae varieties: Lemon Balm, Hyssop, Rosemary, Bee Balm (Monarda), Basil, Savory, Marjoram, Sage.
Unit 4: The Daisies (Asteraceae)
Lesson I : Artemisia species...Southernwood, Wormwood, Tarragon, Mugwort.
Lesson II : Miscellaneous Asteraceae: Chamomile, Tansy, Safflower, Costmary, Yarrow, Calendula, Dandelion etc.
Unit 5: The Parsley Family (Apiaceae)
Lesson I : Parsley, Coriander, Dill, Caraway, Angelica, Cumin, Fennel, Lovage, Sweet Cicely
Unit 6: The Onion Group
Lesson I : Chives, Leek, Garlic chives, Tree onion, Welsh onion, etc.
Lesson II : Garlic
Unit 7: Other Herbs
Lesson I : Rosaceae (Rose, Burnet, Strawberry, blackberry, etc)
Lesson II : Miscellaneous: Lemon grass, Lemon verbena, Bay, Sorrel, Dock, Juniper, Horseradish, Evening Primrose, etc.
Lesson III : Scented Geraniums; Australian Natives, Eucalyptus and Others
Unit 8: Pests & Diseases
Lesson I : Companion Planting
Lesson II : Natural Pest Control: Herb sprays, biological control, etc.
Unit 9: Landscaping
Lesson I : Landscape Design Principles and Practices: How to draw a landscape plan
Lesson II : Home Gardening With Herbs; Cottage gardens, hedges & borders, tubs, baskets, kitchen gardens, herb lawns, herb indoor plants.
Lesson III : Public Landscaping: Historic herb grdens (Knot gardens etc), herbs for low maintenance & colour in parks..etc.
Unit 10: Herb Farming 1
Lesson I : Establishing & Operating a Herb Nursery: Open ground vs container growing, nursery layout, potting soils, pots and labels, marketing, etc.
Unit 11: Herb Farming 11
Lesson I : Establishing & Operating a Herb Farm: Soil Preparation and management (plastic mulch, organic mulches, cultivation), row cropping.
Unit 12: Herb Farming 111
Lesson 1 : Evaluating Herb enterprises, assessing market demand. Deciding how to proceed.
Extract from Course Notes:
HERB OIL PREPARATION
Herb oils are best and most commonly extracted by distillation, a process which is probably beyond most home herb gardeners. Distillation involves boiling a solution of the herb so that the oil vaporises with steam. As the vapour cools, the steam (ie: water gas) and the oil vapour will turn into liquid at different temperatures. By collecting the oil when it turns back into liquid but not collecting the steam, the two can be separated and the herb oil extracted.
Pure herb oils prepared by distillation can be purchased from craft shops or some herb nurseries.
USING NON AROMATIC OILS
A simpler way to create herb oils is by using non aromatic oils (eg: Olive oil or Safflower oil). These are oils that have no real odour.
Herbs can be mixed with non aromatic oils and allowed to stand for a period of weeks (or more).
The oils in the herb will to some degree penetrate the non aromatic oil giving a mixture of non aromatic oil and the herb's scents/flavour. This type of oil is weaker than that extracted by distillation, but it can still be used in much the same way as the pure herb oil can.
1. Place petals from scented flowers such as Jasmine or Rose in a clean ceramic container and pour water over the top. After some weeks or months oil will appear as a filmy scum on the surface of the water. You can then use a piece of cotton wool to carefully absorb the oilfrom the surface of the water. The oil can then be squeezed out of the cotton wool. This is a delicate procedure which will work, but is tedious and only yeilds small quantities of oil. Store in small glass vials.
2. To extract oils from fragrant woods such as cedar, sandlewood, sassafras, camphor laurel etc. Reduce the wood to shavings using a wood plane for tough woods, or garden shredder for softer woods. From there extract the oil using one of the methods outlined above.
Exams: There are four exams for the course; one after lesson 7, another after lesson 15; a third after lesson 22 and the final at the conclusion of the course.
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