Short Course Starting a Backyard Nursery
This short course is a guide for the person attempting to start or run a small nursery, herb or flower growing
enterprise as a backyard operation on their larger property. It endeavours covers the most important topics you need to get you started.
Use this course as a starting point. Study the nursery industry and its sectors in your region – see what is and isn’t feasible. Look at what plants and related products are currently in demand.
Consider opportunities open to you - for example:
You may start small, propagating, growing potted plants and selling at a local market
You may start by propagating herbs for sale, but also growing some, harvesting and producing some herbal products
You may propagate flowers, selling potted flowering plants; or growing in the ground, then harvesting and selling bunches of flowers to a florist or at a market stall.
Nurseries, herb or flower farms that have humble beginnings on just a few dozen square metres of land; can eventually develop into a large, full time business.
Our 20 hour courses are self paced and
will help you understand a topic in a short amount of time. You can work
through the course when you like- test yourself with mini-tests along
the way. There are extra case studies or research you can undertake if
you would really like to get into the topic. Once you have completed the
lessons and self assessment tasks, there is a final exam undertaken
online- you can then download your personalised certificate.
This short course covers eight lessons:
Lesson 1 Introduction and possibilities
Form of product
Lesson 2 Management and organisation
Management and organisation
Selecting the site
Choosing what to grow
Managing manpower, equipment and materials
Developing a nursery stock list – an example
Nursery stocklist worksheet
Lesson 3 Propagating techniques and equipment
Propagating structures and equipment
Nursery irrigation techniques
Lesson 4 Propagating materials
Lesson 5 Plant health problems
Minimising the likelihood of problems
Treating a problem
Minimising chemical use
Lesson 6 Propagation - seeds and cuttings
Where to plant
Pricking out seedlings
Budding and grafting
Propagation of specific plants
Annuals, bulbs and perennials
Fruit and nut plants
Potting up plants
Lesson 7 Starting a small herb or flower farm
Growing flowers for profit in your backyard
Lesson 8 Management
Starting a nursery
Operational flow charts
Costing your production
Hypothetical case study
LEARN HOW TO GROW DIFFERENT PLANTS DIFFERENT WAYS
How to Grow a Seedling
Germinating seed can be complicated; but with the right technique it can be done with relative success for most plants. You will learn more about that in this course.
Germinating the seed is only the start though. You then need to keep the seedling healthy and facilitate vigorous growth to bring it to a point where it can be sold.
Pricking Out Seedlings
Once seeds have emerged and developed a set of true leaves (not seed leaves) the seedlings will need to be transplanted into a new growing environment mainly because:
- This gives them more space to grow.
- For quick and healthy growth they now need media to grow in that has added nutrition.
The types of pots used depends on the species, for example vegetable seedlings may be pricked out into containers containing up to 12 plants, larger plants will be potted into small tubes to 10cm (referred to as tubing or potting-on).
Note: Seedlings of some species may still be too small to prick out or pot-on, at the first true leaf stage. In this instance the seedlings will need to be fertilised with a dilute soluble fertiliser until they are large enough to handle without damage.
All seedlings are easily damaged so they need to be handled carefully.
- Water seedlings well before transplanting.
- Fill plastic tubes with suitable growing media to 5mm of rim.
- Lift seedlings carefully from the communal tray by inserting a dibber (small round pointed stick) underneath the roots and carefully easing it from the media without breaking the roots.
- Hold the seedling by the foliage (carefully) between the thumb and forefinger taking care not to damage the terminal bud.
- Make a hole in the soil with the dibber in your other hand the length of the seedlings root system.
- Place the seedling carefully into the hole making sure that the roots are hanging down and not curled (very long roots may need to be cleanly cut off).
- Fill the hole by pushing soil in from the sides with the dibber or your fingers.
- Place the small pots into a tray and water well.
- Place the trays into a similar environment as they were during the germination process.
- Seedlings need to be gradually hardened off by moving them into less sheltered environments progressively (i.e. heated glass house – unheated greenhouse – shade house- open air).
- Label containers.
Potted-up (or tubed) seedlings need to be watered at least daily and more during hot weather.
Seedlings should not be placed directly onto the ground to prevent disease and also to ensure adequate drainage.
Hardening off seedlings
Seedlings need to be hardened off prior to transplanting or potting on. Seedlings are accustomed to the moist damp and sheltered environment of the greenhouse or other propagating structures and as such have not developed a large amount of root hairs that are needed to survive as the environment becomes a bit harsher and drier in individual pots. To compensate for transplant shock the young plants are therefore gradually moved into a drier and harsher environment.
The best way to prevent transplant shock is to gradually decrease the amount of watering the young plants receive over a 2-3 week period, this means that they will produce the large amount of root hairs required to enable them to seek out water within the mix. Make sure though that you don’t under-do the watering either as seedlings particularly those grown in individual cells or communal trays dry out quickly.
Hardening off is a preparation process: During this phase the transplanted seedlings will slow their growth so that they have a greater tolerance to stress once planted out into their final positions in field or garden.
- It slows growth.
- To protect it from drying out the plants develop waxes and cuticles on the leaf surface.
- The plant begins to store carbohydrates to stimulate growth after transplanting into the final position.
Hardening off methods
a. Reduce watering (i.e. water less both in frequency and quantity).
b. Lower the temperature gradually i.e. transplants may be moved in order as follows:
- A heated glasshouse.
- A warm unheated glass house.
- A green house.
- Open air with greenhouse roof coverage.
- A sheltered open situation.
c. Apply liquid fertiliser 2 days before transplanting then cease fertiliser application; particularly nitrogen.
d. Harden off for approximately 7 days.
How does this course work?
You can enrol at any time.
Once you have paid for the course, you will be able to start straight away.
Study when and where you like. Work through at your own pace.
You can download your study-guide to your smart phone, tablet or laptop to read offline.
There are automated self-assessment tests you can complete at the end of each lesson. You can attempt these as many times as you wish and each time, upon completion, you can see your results. You will need internet access to complete the self assessment tests.
At the end of the course, you are presented with a large assessment which can be attempted online, anywhere, anytime. If you achieve a 60% pass in the exam; you immediately receive a downloadable certificate of completion with your name on it. If you do not achieve a 60% pass rate, you can contact us to re-sit your exam. ( email- firstname.lastname@example.org )
Contact us at anytime if you have any issues with the course. email@example.com