Become a Herb Expert
- Earn an income from herbs
- Learn to grow and use herbs from experts with decades of experience
- Study at your own pace and explore options for business and career
This course has been developed as a broad based foundation for anyone working or wishing to work in the herb industry; on a herb farm or nursery growing herbs; in the design, development and maintenance of herb gardens, or in the manufacture and marketing of herb products.
It is an ideal starting point for anyone with aspirations to start their own business, or anyone with a burning passion to learn more about herbs, and explore the possibilities for being involved with them more in the future.
There are thirty lessons including a special project in this course, each requiring about 16 hours work.
- Overview of Herb Varieties
- Soils & Nutrition
- Herb Culture
- Propagation Techniques
- Pests & Disease Control
- Harvesting Herbs
- Processing Herbs
- Using Herbs: Herb Crafts
- Using Herbs: Herbs for Cooking
- Using Herbs: Medicinal Herbs
- Herb Farming
- Herb Garden Design
- Constructing a Herb Garden
- Managing a Herb Nursery
- Lamiaceae Herbs
- The Asteraceae (Compositae) Herbs
- The Apiaceae Family
- Other Herbs
- Topiary & Hedges
- Producing Herb Products A
- Producing Herb Products B
- Producing Herb Products C
- Marketing in the Herb Industry
- Budgeting & Business Planning
- Workforce Design & Management
- Major Research Project
Exams: Two exams must be sat and passed; one for the first 15 lessons and the other for the last 15 lessons.
The Diversity of herbs is Staggering
There are thousands of different types of herbs. Some people work with just one type (eg. culinary herbs) or produce products from just one type (eg. lavender products). Others in the herb industry may deal with all sorts of different herbs (eg. landscapers who create herb gardens, nurseries that grow and sell a wide variety of herb species).
Perhaps the first point to make is that, even though generalisations might be able to be made about growing herbs, every type of plant is a different type of plant. Every species has its own cultural requirements. It must be treated in a certain individual way and, depending on the climate and location in which it is grown, it will respond differently to different types of treatments.In a nutshell we can say: 'Every plant is an individual'.
Herbs are, in the main, relatively easy to grow when compared with other types of plants. Most herbs are relatively tolerant of occasional exposure to extreme conditions such as wind, sunburn, frost or wet feet. They may deteriorate, but usually they regrow. (There are exceptions though). Some herbs are weeds in some parts of the world. You should be very aware of the vigour of the herbs you grow, and their potential to become a weed.
In particular, watch the seedlings of vigorous herbs....if not controlled, they can become a serious problem to both your garden and neighbouring properties.
Most herbs propagate relatively easily either by division, seed or cuttings. Many self seed and can virtually take over a garden if not controlled. Others (eg. most of the mints) will spread naturally and can virtually take over this way. This vigorous and prolific habit of some herbs has led them to be looked upon as almost 'weeds' in some quarters. On the other hand, this vigorous type of growth can, if used skilfully, be used as a form of weed control. It often boils down to 'the individual's personal perception of what a garden should be'.
In a garden situation, if you don't mind herbs being 'mixed' up with other plants then there is no reason why they shouldn't be planted with your 'roses', 'azaleas', or 'natives'. Many people however, prefer to treat their herbs separately, creating a special area which becomes the exclusive domain of their herbs. This type of 'special' herb garden is historically part of the formal kitchen garden which was an essential part of life up until a century or so ago. Here the herbs were arranged in regular shaped beds divided by gravel or paved paths. The design was always symmetrical; a circle, square or rectangle divided into symmetrically balanced beds divided down the centre by a path. This type of formal herb garden is today making a comeback
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.
What is a Herb?
Strictly speaking 'herb' is simply a shortening of the word 'herbaceous', which in horticulture (or botany) means the type of plant which does not have a 'woody stem'. Herbaceous plants have softer tissue in the stem and tend to die back to ground level each year after flowering to regrow a complete new 'top' the next season. Many of the plants we refer to as herbs are like this, but not all.
The word 'herb' in the context of this course, and in the context it is commonly used today, refers to those plants which are useful because of their aromatic, medicinal, cosmetic, flavouring or repellent qualities. Herbs are plants which are used for 'food, medicine, scent, flavour etc'.
In this sense an herb can range from tiny small prostrate shrubs up to large trees, for example those having aromatic leaves.
One critical aspect of using herbs must be the ability to identify the plant you are going to use, accurately. Plants are not always named correctly in nurseries, nor are they always described correctly in books.
PLANT NAMES: Plants are given two different types of names:
- Common Names..... These are English language names usually given to plants by amateur gardeners as a descriptive, easy to remember tag. Many plants have more than one common name, and sometimes the same common name can be given to several quite different plants. This along with the fact that there is no real control over common names makes them inaccurate & unreliable for plant identification.
- Scientific Names.....based on Latin language, these names often seem more complex than common names at first glance; however they have a system to them which can make plant identification much easier. The system of scientific naming is strictly controlled and coordinated by botanists throughout the world. Scientific names should always be used in preference to common names.
In the scientific system, plants are classified by dividing them into groups which have similar characteristics. These groups are then divided into smaller groups with similar characteristics. These are divided again and so the division of group to sub group & sub group to further sub groups goes on....until you finally have only one type of plant in each group.
MAIN GROUPS OF HERBS
The largest group which herbs fall into is the Mint (Labiatae or Lamiaceae). The Daisy (Compositae or Asteraceae), Umbel (Umbelliferae or Apiaceae) and Lily (Liliaceae) families also encompass large numbers of common herbs.
There is a distinct advantage in knowing which family groups a particular herb falls into:
- Identification of herbs becomes easier. There are certain characteristics which are the same for all types of plants in the same groups (eg. Mint family plants all have "squarish" shaped stems).
- The way in which plants in the same family are used is usually similar (eg. It is usually the leaves of mint Lamiaceae (Labiatae) family plants which are used for flavour or fragrance.)
OPPORTUNITIES IN THE HERB INDUSTRY
This course will expand your mind so you can better see and understand the huge range of possibilities for working with herbs. You may only ever work with herbs on a small scale; but for others, herbs may become both your passion and sole source of income.
Possibilities may include:
- Propagating and selling herb plants (production nursery, specialising in herbs)
- Running or working in a herb shop (A retail outlet selling all types of herb products from home wares to perfumes, culinary and medicinal herb products, crafts, etc.
- Farming and selling fresh culinary herbs, dried herbs or extracted herb oils
- Working as a consultant , in education or the media, writing and talking about herbs
- Herbal therapies -aromatherapy, massage etc.
- Manufacturing and wholesaling of herbal products.
The vast majority of herb studies graduates will run their own
business – but some do work for others e.g. in retail nurseries, on
herb farms or as advisors.