I have just found out Horticultural studies at my local TAFE will not be continuing next semester. The main reason being that because TAFE is now privatised, it is about courses having the numbers to make a profit. As a business owner, I can understand this logic… However, it doesn’t make it less disappointing that I won’t be continuing my Certificate in Horticulture in its current form.
As I was driving home from TAFE the other day, the saying “one door closes and another opens” popped into my head and there was a glimmer of a rainbow in the sky as I thought this. The school vegetable patch is a project that one of the mums started late last year to get the kids interested in gardening – Perhaps I could help out now that my commitment to TAFE is no longer there next semester.
Changing my mindset around the unexpected change of events has allowed me to be open to seeing other opportunities to practice what I have learnt this semester – not only in my own garden but in the school’s garden as well.
One of the fundamentals I had learnt this semester was plant propagation using cuttings, which is something I have not had much experience in (apart from occasionally giving it a go). Using cuttings guarantees you a clone from the plant that you get the cutting from. If you like a particular trait in a plant then a cutting is the way to go, as growing the plant from seed can produce variations.
Tip, semi-hardwood, hardwood and leaf cuttings were a part of my practical assessment. It was interesting to be introduced to the science behind what makes a cutting take root. At the base of the cutting a callus will form. This callus is made up of undifferentiated cells, which means they can form into a root system. The process can be sped up by dipping the base of your cutting in hormone powder.
Cuttings taken from plants that are in the high growth period will be the ones that strike (develop roots) most quickly. That is because they are actively growing. Create an environment for this cutting to grow (well drained potting media, warm and moist conditions) and wait for the magic happen. For someone that usually buys my plants, having a bit of practical experience and knowledge has given me the confidence to continue with plant propagation from cuttings.
Taking leaf cuttings was cool as well. I liked the whole leaf technique. A whole leaf (we used begonias) is faced with the underside of the leaf facing upwards. You then make four of five cuts where the veins in the leaf meet. This is then placed in a filled tray with the leaf facing downwards. You must then sprinkle some sand on top of the leaf to hold the leaf down. From each cut you have made a new plant will form – How amazing is that?!
This was only the tip of the iceberg in what I learnt during my semester at TAFE. Being back in a classroom environment was fun for me and having all the resources available for me to have practical experience also enhanced the learning process.
What I also take away from this is that I can continue the horticultural learning process outside of TAFE. Although I knew this logically, I had been focusing mainly on business tasks that require ongoing training. Going to TAFE was a great way to kick start to my goal of studying horticulture.