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Gardening Course

Designed by Ashraf Al Shafaki

Objectives

By the end of this course you will:

  • Understand the function of different plant parts.
  • Know the basic requirements of plants.
  • Be able to germinate seeds successfully.
  • Be able to Use the moon as a guide for when to perform different gardening operations.
  • Be able to perform fundamental gardening operations.
  • Know when, how and why to prune plants.

Advantages

  • Course is designed and delivered by a gardening fan making the course incredibly easy to understand without the technical clutter.
  • Provides a purely organic approach to gardening without the slightest trace of chemicals being used.

Opening

The following can be used to entice participants into learning the course content. It provides them with a motivation.
  • Photos of plants suffering from problems (yellow leaves, eaten leaves, diseased fruits ...). Some reasons that caused such problems. (This would be a motivator to learn the course content including knowledge about soil, plant parts and their functions ... etc.)

Package

This package is provided to participants in order to use it for the practical part of the course including assignments and the final project. The package includes the following:
  • Seeds of: basil, beans, lupin
  • Bags of: peat moss, compost
  • Pots: small plastic pots of several sizes
  • Booklet containing basic gardening information.

Videos

Use videos from YouTube to demonstrate concepts and motivate participants to carry on gardening.

Plant Parts

Main Plant Parts

Roots

  • Absorb nutrients from soil.
  • Fix plant in soil providing support.

Stem

  • Transports nutrients to the rest of the plant parts.
  • Provides support for the plant to stay erect.
  • Bends in the direction of light to allow leaves to absorb more light.

Leaves

Act as both the lungs and the stomach of the plant:

  • Manufacture food for the plant through photosynthesis.
  • Breathes

Additional Plant Parts

Flowers

  • Pollinate the plant to produce fruit.

Fruits

  • Some are edible by animals and humans.
  • Some Contain seeds.

Seeds

  • Provide a means of propagating the plant.
  • Some are edible by humans and animals.

Plant Needs

Water

Water is important for the plants for it acts as a solvent for nutrients present in the soil converting such nutrients into a solution that can be absorbed by the roots. Water is also a main constituent of plant parts as well. Moreover, water provides plants with a means to transpire and cool down.

Air

Air is important for plants in two ways. Firstly, carbon dioxide is needed by plant leaves in order to carry out the photosynthesis process during which a plant manufactures its food. Secondly, oxygen is used by the roots to grow and function properly.

Nutrients

Nutrients provide the essential elements for plants to grow and develop. Without such nutrients plans will not be able to grow their different parts nor fight disease and pests.

Light

Light is needed by plants during the photosynthesis process in order to produce food for the growth of the various plant parts.

Temperature

  • Warmths: Seeds need warmth to germinate.
  • Coldness:
    • Some seeds need to pass through a period of cold weather in order to break out of its state of dormancy.
    • Some plants need a period of cold weather in order to bear fruit.
  • Different plants need different ranges of temperature in order to grow and thrive. Temperatures vary according to location and season. Hence different groups of plants are planted in different seasons and locations. However, temperature can be artificially regulated using greenhouses in order to grow plants out of season and at locations they could not have naturally been grown at.

Plant Types

Perennial

Annual

Biennial

Soil

Function of Soil

Support

Soil provides physical support for the plant by allowing the roots to hold on to it.

Nutrients

The soil provides nutrients for the plant to absorb through its roots as those nutrients dissolve in irrigation water.

Water

The soil absorbs and retains water to provide the plant with through its roots.

Air

The soil provides air necessary for the roots to grown and function properly.

Types of Soil

Clay

Sand

Peat Moss

Vermiculite

Perlite

Potting Mix

Soilless (hydroponic)

Properties of Soils

Drainage

The degree by which soil allows water to pass through it.

Water Retention

The ability of soil to absorb and retain water.

Aeration

The degree by which soil allows air to be exchanged inside it.

Nutrients

The nutrient content of the soil.

Weight

How heavy or light the soil is for a fixed unit of soil volume.

Pots

Types of Pots

Clay

Plastic

Ceramic

Wooden

Comparison of Pots

Drainage

Weight

Biodegradability

Price

Plant comfort

Propagation

By Seeds

Conditions for germination:

  • temperature (warmth)
  • humidity (water, moisture)
Additional preconditions before attempting to germinate some types of seeds:
  • low temperature (to break dormancy)
  • moisture

By Cuttings

Mulching

Adding mulch can improve the water retention ability of the soil and supply the plant with nutrients.

Grafting

Timing

Sun

The solar year can be used to determine best time for planting and carrying out other gardening activities. The month of the year, or more precisely the zodiac in which the sun is passing is used to determine suitable timing for planting.

Moon

The lunar month can be used to determine most suitable times for planting various plants. The moon can be further used in determining planting time by taking into consideration through which zodiac the moon is passing. This practice is termed lunar gardening.

Wind

Wind can have a profound effect on plants. Wind can act as a pollinator instead of insects like in the case of palm trees. Wind can also bring about rain which in turn affects plants. Furthermore, wind can blow and dry out the surface of top soil making it much less moist. Finally, strong wind can have its effect on the branches and even fruits of a plant breaking it apart and even destroying it completely whereas mild wind might help stems toughen up.

Location

Location of the plant is important because it affects the amount of lights the plant receives, the degree of humidity, temperature range and wind strength. It is essential to locate each plant appropriately according to its needs.

Irrigation


Companion Planting

Some plants are best grown side by side. One plant may attract beneficial insects that would feed on the pests of another plant. Companion planting can improve the health, vigor and even flavor of a plant.

Garlic can be used as a natural repellent of aphids and other types of pests. Besides its pesticidal properties, garlic has fungicidal properties as well. Garlic can also improve the flavor of other plants that are planted next to it. Therefore garlic is considered to be an excellent companion to many plans when planted side by side with them. Garlic is a popular selection for companion planting. However, garlic is not a good companion for legumes such as fava beans.

Crop Rotation

Planting the same crop at the same spot every season may deplete the nutrients from the soil and help pests and diseases persist. Changing the type of plant you grow in each area will help avoid those two problems. Some plants are best grown after one another. For instance, a plant that is a heavy consumer of nitrogen from the soil might best be planted after growing a plant that supplies nitrogen to the soil through nitrogen fixation such as legumes.

Composting

Composting is the process of recycling some kitchen remains such as fruit peal and vegetable remains in order to create a fertile soil amendment that is both safe and enriching for your soil. Not only does compost provide your plants with better health and an organic fertilizer but they also help you sharply cut down on your house waste.

  • Difference between aerobic and anaerobic decay (why garbage smells so bad, while correctly managed compost smells that good).

Square Foot Gardening

Concepts

  • weeds

Assignments

  • Germinate basil seeds in peat moss and bring your seedlings to class.

Exercises

Provide trainees with questions about common garden issues (such as leaves turning yellow, aphids harming the plants ... etc.) then ask them for their evaluation of the cause of the problem and suggestions for solving it.

Project

Select a completely or partially dead backyard. Design and implement a program to revitalize the soil life in that backyard and enliven it with a healthy system of plants.

Interesting Concepts

  • Phototropism

Terms

  • Potting mix
  • Photosynthesis
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