Why do this rather than a Diploma or Advanced Diploma?
Obviously a diploma or advanced diploma is longer and will teach you more; but all three options can be a starting point for a professional career. If you are limited in the time and/or money you can devote to studies, you are better to attempt something less and complete it, than to attempt something longer and struggle.
If you graduate from an associate diploma, you can always do further studies and upgrade your qualification later on.
Note that each module in the ASSOCIATE DIPLOMA IN HORTICULTURAL STUDIES VHT008 is a short course in its own right, and may be studied separately.
There are twelve lessons in this course, as follows:
1. Plant Identification: Naming plants; distinguishing the taxonomic divisions of plants including family, genus, species and variety or hybrid; identifying the different parts of a flower; distinguishing the morphological characteristics of leaves.
2. Planting: Planting methods used for different types of plants including annuals, perennials, evergreen and deciduous plants; influence of environmental factors on planting techniques.
3. Soils: Classifying soils; sampling and testing soils; chemical and physical properties of soils; soil improvement techniques; composting; potting mixes.
4. Nutrition: Major and micro elements necessary for plant growth; nutrient deficiencies and toxicities; fertilisers.
5. Water Management: Irrigation systems - characteristics, advantages and disadvantages; drainage systems; water wise gardening.
6. Pruning: Pruning techniques; importance of pruning to growth, flowering and fruiting; pruning tools.
7. Weeds: Identifying common weeds; characteristics of weeds; control techniques; herbicides.
8. Pests and Diseases: Identifying common insect and disease problems; control methods; Integrated Pest Management; pesticides; hygiene procedures; chemical safety.
9. Landscaping: Stages of landscaping; design procedures; collating pre-planning information; preparing plans; selecting plants for specified sites.
10. Propagation: Asexual and sexual propagation; taking cuttings; sowing seeds; aftercare of propagated plants.
11. Lawns: Turf grass varieties; laying a new lawn; cultural techniques including watering, fertilizing, topdressing, aerating, pest and disease control.
12. Arboriculture: Tree management techniques including pruning, removal and tree surgery; identifying tree problems.
There are ten lessons in this course plus one Special Assignment (see later for details). The content of each of the ten lessons is outlined below:
1. The Groups of Plants â€‘ setting a framework for the whole subject.
To identify plants from a wide range of taxonomic and cultural groups, using a range of different techniques.
2. Use of Plants â€‘ plant selection, soils.
3. Australian Native Plants
To determine techniques for the growing of native shrubs and trees, including the selection, culture and use of different species.
4. Exotic Ornamental Plants
To determine techniques for the growing of exotic ornamental shrubs and trees, including the selection, culture and use of different species.
5. Indoor & Tropical Plants
To determine techniques for the growing of indoor plants, including selection, culture and use of different varieties
6. Bedding Plants
To determine techniques for the growing of bedding plants, including selection, culture and use of different varieties.
To develop techniques for the growing of edible crop plants, including selection, culture and use of vegetables, fruit, berries and nuts (Part A).
8. Fruits, Nuts & Berries
10. Alternative Growing Techniques â€‘ hydroponics, container growing, terrariums. Determine appropriate applications for a range of alternative growing methods.
There are ten lessons in this module, as follows:
- Overview of Preventative Controls
- Other Pesticides
- Spray Equipment
- Insect Biology
- Fungal Biology
- Environmental Problems
- Nematodes, Molluscs and Crustaceans
Horticulture and Research I
The course contains seven lessons:
1. Determining Research Needs
2. Searching for Information
3. Research Methods
4. Using Statistics
5. Conducting Statistical Research
6. Research Reports
7. Reporting on a Research Project
The purpose of this module is to gain an appreciation of industry and build your capacity to apply horticultural knowledge in the real world. This can be satisfied in a range of ways including:
- Working in a horticultural job (paid or voluntary) for 100 hrs, and providing proof of that work experience through documentation such as a reference from an employer. This must be more than just a basic labouring position though. Working in a nursery propagating plants would for instance, be appropriate. Shovelling soil off a truck for 100 hrs may not be appropriate.
- Serving on an industry committee (eg. professional association or garden club)
- Writing articles for publication (in gardening magazines, or even on one of the school's web sites) etc
Working as a Professional in Horticulture
Will doing a course get me work? No not always! Many people study just to get a qualification and having a qualification may be no guarantee for work. What will get you work, especially for a diploma level student where you are obviously studying to work at or progress to a higher level in the industry, is studying the right subjects and retaining, but more importantly being able to recall and apply your knowledge and skills later (even years later). Not all courses set you up for this – some people are rushed though courses, rather than studying at a self-paced speed, they need to fit in with course deadlines. This makes people rush and rushing does not allow you to truly absorb information – lack of absorption means an inability to recall and apply knowledge. What you learn from a good course does greatly increase your employment opportunities.
What do I need to Get Work as a Horticultural Graduate?
Sound demonstrable knowledge and skills across horticulture industry sectors but also pertinent to the job; a qualification is just one part of that, many people have qualifications but it is how you are able to apply and demonstrate your knowledge that will count most to your potential employer. In horticulture you will not only know the basics of horticulture such as plant identification, plant culture, soil management, propagation and so on you will also need to have a sound grounding in other subjects that will expand your basic knowledge – this course allows you to do this.
- Good communication skills: verbal, written and IT skills are the very basis of a professional in any industry and horticulture is no exception. You need to be able to communicate effectively at all levels – with workers, your peers, your employers and importantly your clients.
- Problem solving skills: In the work place, and as a professional, you will need to problem solve all the time – you need to be able to think on your feet, come up with quick solutions and make sure that those solutions are carried through and actually work. Problem solving skills are encouraged in ACS courses because your set tasks and assignment are based on Problem Based Learning – a system which is proven to produce graduates that have advanced problem solving capabilities and there is nothing an employer likes more!
- Efficiency: Efficient workers know how to plan, organise, have logic and be able to apply it to work load and production (doing the things in the right order in an organised way). Efficient don’t need to do this quickly they should be adept at applying skills and expertise.
- Professional attitude: employers prefer people with good personal presentation and the ability to work cooperatively within a team environment.
- A passion for the industry: Employers also prefer those that show a passion for their work and you can demonstrate this by being across the latest developments pertinent to your industry sector, you can do this throug networking within the industry: volunteering to gain experience, memberships to clubs, societies and associations.
- See study as a first step - continue studying and learning throughout your career - reading literature from a variety of sources will all help you to gain a
good profile and make you stand out from others applying for the same
- Have a well written, concise CV and written to current conventions - ACS tutors will help you with your VC free of charge.
- Recognise your weaknesses (academic and other) and work on them but also know your strengths and don't be afraid to demonstrate them.
ACS operates a student bookshop that supplies a range of horticulture texts to supplement our courses.
Many are written by the principal (well known gardening author John Mason), or other staff. All have been reviewed and approved by our academic experts (to be accurate and relevant to students studying our horticulture courses).
- Student discounts are available to anyone studying with ACS Distance Education.
- Both printed books and ebooks (as downloads) available