Comprehensive training for those developing a career in horticultural crop production
Ideal for learners who intend to or already work in commercial growing – eg in a nursery, market garden or orchard – the aim in creating this course has been to bring together information and cultural procedures which are rarely described in such a complete way in current publications and books. You will gain a very solid foundation in production horticulture, studying topics such as: propagation techniques, plant nutrition, planting systems, nursery standards, handling and storage best practice, and pest and disease control. Areas explored in-depth include the commercial growing of trees and shrubs, vegetable production and top fruit and soft fruit production.
Your first set of course materials will be sent to you when you enrol. You can start as soon as you want and progress through the course at your own pace, studying when and where you choose.
This flexibility makes it easy to fit learning around work and family commitments.
The extensive course materials have been developed by gardening experts and are clear and straightforward, so your studying is easy and enjoyable. As you complete each lesson, your tutor will promptly return your marked assignment with constructive feedback and guidance. (You can also contact your tutor or the support team for help at any point during your studies.)
The course includes all the required study materials.
There is no formal examination. On successful completion you will be awarded an HCC Certificate. You have 2 years to complete the course.
We are proud of our friendly, caring ethos and aim to do all we can to help you succeed.
Our tutors are all experienced, highly qualified and passionate about sharing their love of their subject. You can phone or email your tutor throughout the course – to ask questions, for advice, encouragement or to draw on their wealth of knowledge.
You can also contact the support team who are here to help you Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.
Lesson 1 – Orchard Planning – Choice of site; modifying the microclimate, frost protection, windbreaks; soil: depth, texture, drainage, structure, pH and nutrient status. Specific apple replant disease.
Lesson 2 – Planting Systems – Land and tree preparation; pollination and fertilisation. Apples, pears, plums, cherries; improving fruit set. Soil, leaf, fruitlet and fruit analyses; correcting nutrient deficiencies.
Lesson 3 – Top Fruit Production System – Rootstocks, dwarfing control; tree shape; pruning and training: apples, pears, plums, cherries; chemical growth control; crop thinning; harvest and storage.
Lesson 4 – Soft Fruit Production – Planting preparation. Strawberries: fertigation, biological control; raspberries: biennial cropping, forcing; pollination; blackberries: varieties, pruning, training; gooseberries: training, diseases; other soft fruit.
Lesson 5 – Vegetable Production Markets – Economics, labour; propagation techniques; plant raising; sowing rates; bare-root transplants; module containers; plant spacing; bed systems; seed-beds; irrigation; weed control; plastic mulches; day-degrees; storage and cooling.
Lesson 6 – Plant Propagation – Principles and practice: provenance and trueness to type, F1 seed, clones; seed germination; composts; vegetative propagation: stock plants, anatomy, micropropagation; named propagation examples.
Lesson 7 – Trees and Shrubs – British Standards for nursery stock; code of practice for plant handling: packing, storage, treatment. Planting techniques; aftercare; pests, diseases, disorders; trees and the law; selection and suitability; choice criteria.
Lesson 8 – Aspects of Pest and Disease Control in Fruit – Virus diseases of apples, pears and plums; fungal pathogens; insect pests of apples, pears, plums and strawberries; supervised control concepts; integrated pest management; use of sex hormones for pest population surveys; weed control.
Lessons 9 – Aspects of Glasshouse crops
Lesson 10 – Hardy Ornamental Nursery Stock
If needed you have 2 years to complete the course. Many students are able to complete this course in approximately 6-12 months*.
*Timescales are approximate and depend upon application and motivation.
There are no exams. On successful completion of this course you will receive an HCC Certificate*, graded to show the standard you have reached. The HCC’s reputation means this can be highly regarded on a CV and, combined with your portfolio of coursework, is evidence of your achievements (whether you are applying for a job or a more advanced study course).
* The HCC Certificate will be issued once you have successfully completed your course and finished your course payments.
You do not need previous gardening knowledge or experience to enrol on this course.