Wow, it has been a massive month for me!
As I mentioned last time, I have started to do my Certificate Three in Horticulture at TAFE. This has been interesting and challenging. One assessment task is having list of 100 plants and knowing their botanical names as well as doing plant identification sheets for 40 of them.
Learning botanical names is like learning a new language! I feel a bit self conscious saying the names out aloud but it was pretty awesome when I read some of them to the kids the other night and they looked at me and said ‘That’s really cool Mum’ (They think it’s funny I have gone back to school!)
With the plant identification sheets, there are so many different aspects of a plant that you fill in…leaf colour, leaf shape, margin, arrangement, flower and inflorescence type etc….Whoa! I do like sitting in our group and having a specimen from the plant in front of us and filling out the plant identification sheets together.
Making my own potting mix has been on my to-do list for a long time. This month, I can say that’s something I can tick off the list. Making a potting mix is like making a cake. In class, we were divided into teams and given a list of ingredients to make different types of potting mix. One was a general potting mix (with different potting mix ingredients for native and exotic plants), one was a seed raising mix and then other a propagation mix.
Watching these ingredients come together as you are mixing them is really cool. I have only had the experience of buying my potting mix in a bag. Our teacher wanted us to learn how to mix a potting media (media being another word for mix) by hand first instead of a machine. This was so we could visually witness the ingredients coming together and understand the importance of having correct proportions of ingredients so they don’t separate. If the ingredients separate in the machine you need to take them out and mix by hand!
Another practical activity we have done in class this month, is cleaning our secateurs. At the start of the course, we were asked to bring two pairs of secateurs to class. A ‘good’ pair (that is used for propagation) should stay clean and sharp which is important when using in propagation as you want the healthiest plant possible for propagation. Using blunt or unsterilised secateurs is an invitation for disease and plant damage. What was told to us was ‘Think of yourself like a surgeon. A surgeon would use clean, sharp and sterile equipment in an operation’ Same goes for gathering cuttings to propagate. You don’t want to create damage when collecting cuttings.
I was slightly embarrassed by the state of my ‘hack’ pair of secateurs, which desperately needed a cleaning. Nothing that a bit of sandpaper, steel wool, methylated spirits , a diamond file and elbow grease didn’t fix.
It has been a long blog post on Horticulture this month! But I have been super excited with all the knowledge and skills that I’m picking up and wanted to share it with you all.
Are you also an amateur gardener? What have your experiences been? Please share your story in the comments section below.