Herb Farming -online study course
Comment from one of our Herb Culture students:
'An excellent guide to self-learning" E. Holsman
This is a massive course, designed as a starting point for anyone wishing to start or improve a business or dealing with herbs. It lays the foundation for identifying hundreds of different types of herbs, and knowing how to grow, harvest and use different types of herbs to produce different types of herbal products.
This course is divided into 12 units.
Each unit comprises one (1) or more lessons, as follows:
Unit 1 Introduction To Herb Culture
- Lesson I : Introduction to herbs, definitions, uses. Classification of herbs; use of a botanical key.
- Lesson II : Cultural Techniques...planting, soils, drainage, feeding, mulching, composting, pruning.
- Lesson III : Propagation Techniques...propagation mixes, growing structures, cuttings, seed, separation & division, layering.
- Lesson IV : Identification of plant health problems...pest & disease, frost, heat, water stress, etc.
Unit 2 Using Herbs
- Lesson I : Processing & Use of Herbs Medicinal, culinary, perfumes, dyes, oils, distillation processes, etc.
- Lesson II : Harvesting & Storage Air drying, oven drying, microwave drying, freezing, fresh storage, when & how to harvest.
Unit 3 The Mints (Lamiaceae)
- Lesson I : Mentha species: Peppermint, spearmint, applemint, wintermint, pennyroyal, corsican, ginger mint etc.
- Lesson II : Lavender (Lavendula varieties) & thyme (Thymus).
- Lesson III : Assorted Lamiaceae varieties: Lemon Balm, Hyssop, Rosemary, Bee Balm (Monarda), Basil, Savory, Marjoram, Sage.
Unit 4 The Daisies (Asteraceae)
- Lesson I : Artemisia species...Southernwood, Wormwood, Tarragon, Mugwort.
- Lesson II : Miscellaneous Asteraceae: Chamomile, Tansy, Safflower, Costmary, Yarrow, Calendula, Dandelion etc.
Unit 5 The Parsley Family (Apiaceae)
- Lesson I : Parsley, Coriander, Dill, Caraway, Angelica, Cumin, Fennel, Lovage, Sweet Cicely etc.
Unit 6 The Onion Group
- Lesson I : Chives, Leek, Garlic chives, Tree onion, Welsh onion, etc.
- Lesson II : Garlic
Unit 7 Other Herbs
- Lesson I : Rosaceae (Rose, Burnet, Strawberry, blackberry, etc)
- Lesson II : Miscellaneous: Lemon grass, Lemon verbena, Bay, Sorrel, Dock, Juniper, Horseradish, Evening Primrose, etc.
- Lesson III : Scented Geraniums; Australian Natives, Eucalyptus and Others
Unit 8 Pests & Diseases
- Lesson I : Companion Planting
- Lesson II : Natural Pest Control: Herb sprays, biological control, etc.
Unit 9 Landscaping
- Lesson I : Landscape Design Principles and Practices: How to draw a landscape plan
- Lesson II : Home Gardening With Herbs; Cottage gardens, hedges & borders, tubs, baskets, kitchen gardens, herb lawns, herb indoor plants.
- Lesson III : Public Landscaping: Historic herb grdens (Knot gardens etc), herbs for low maintenance & colour in parks..etc.
Unit 10 Herb Farming 1
- Lesson I : Establishing & Operating a Herb Nursery: Open ground vs container growing, nursery layout, potting soils, pots and labels, marketing, etc.
Unit 11 Herb Farming 11
- Lesson I : Establishing & Operating a Herb Farm: Soil Preparation and management (plastic mulch, organic mulches, cultivation), row cropping.
Unit 12 Herb Farming 111
- Lesson 1 : Evaluating Herb enterprises, assessing market demand. Deciding how to proceed.
Here are some examples of what may be achieved:
- Differentiate between different varieties of herbs in cultivation.
- Explain the general cultural practices used for the growing of herbs.
- Determine harvest and post harvest techniques for herb crops, including processing, storage and use of herbs.
- Develop a production plan for a herb crop grown for harvesting.
- Develop a production plan for a herb nursery.
- Design a herb garden for a home or public garden.
- Evaluate the production of herbs or herb products in a commercial business.
WHAT THE COURSE COVERS
Here are just some of the things you may be doing:
- Distinguish, using illustrations and minimum but adequate comments; between major plant families which herbs belong to.
- Compile a resource file of fifty different sources of information regarding cultivated herbs.
- Prepare an herbarium collection of one hundred different herb varieties.
- Develop guidelines for the general culture of herbs in your locality.
- Explain six different propagation methods suitable for herbs, using illustrations.
- Demonstrate how to prepare cuttings for three different herb varieties.
- Propagate three different varieties of commercially farmed herbs, using appropriate, but different propagation techniques for each.
- Explain natural pest and disease control methods for a specified herb species.
- Explain the concept of companion planting, including three examples of proven companion planting interrelationships.
- Write a maintenance schedule for either a herb garden, nursery or farm.
- Describe two different harvesting techniques for herbs, by outlining the steps to follow for each.
- Determine criteria which are critical to success in the process of drying herbs.
- Compare two different drying processes for herbs, with reference to: *equipment used *procedure *cost.
- Produce two marketable herb products by harvesting, and processing material from a herb plant.
- Prepare five different herbal products for home use.
- Estimate the costs associated with processing four different herbs to a marketable stage, itemising the components of costs for each.
- Determine ten different species of herbs which have potential to be grown commercially as broad acre crops in your locality.
- Describe the process of producing a specified commercial herb crop being grown organically.
- Describe the process of producing a commercial herb crop being grown hydroponically.
- Compare broad-acre production methods, used for three different herbs, including: *propagation *planting *crop management *harvesting *post-harvest processing; by constructing a table or chart.
- Design a simple trial, to test the commercial potential of different varieties of a specific herb species.
- Conduct the simple trial you designed recording details of tasks undertaken.
- Analyse the results of the trial conducted to test the performance of a herb plants.
- Determine the variety with greatest commercial potential from those trialled.
- Prepare flow-sheet broad acre crop production schedules for four herbs; one each from Allium, Apiaceae, Asteraceae, Lamiaceae groups.
- Determine minimum facilities required to produce saleable plants in a specified herb nursery.
- Prepare a potting media suitable for growing a container herb plant of a specified species, as nursery stock.
- Describe the procedures used in a commercial herb nursery, to produce plants for sale.
- Differentiate between the procedures used for production of different products in a herb nursery, including: *Punnets of seedling herbs *Bare rooted plants *Standard container plants *Hanging baskets *Topiary.
- Grow a herb plant to a commercially acceptable standard, as a tubestock container plant, through all stages of production, without supervision.
- Prepare production schedules for two herbs from four different minor herb groups, for a specified nursery.
- Explain the use of general landscape principles and practices in the designs of two different herb gardens.
- Determine different applications for herbs in home gardens.
- Determine applications for herbs in public landscaping, referring to both difficulties and advantages in different situations.
- Design for a herb garden for a site of between 30 and 100 square metres surveyed by you, preparing a scale drawing showing the placement of at least 20 different varieties of herbs.
- Explain the reasoning behind the herb garden designed.
- Determine critical factors to establishing a new herb business, in the learners locality.
- Analyse the business operations of a specified herb enterprise.
- Assess market demand for a herbal product, through a phone survey and information search.
- Compare the commercial potential of three different types of herb enterprises, in your locality.
Different types of herbs are harvested in different ways. If you want the best harvest in terms of both quality and quantity, you need to grow the best cultivars, in the right way, and harvest appropriate parts of the plant at the right time in their growth cycle. The leaves of some herbs will be what you take, but for others it may be flowers, seed, fruits, stems, roots or other parts, such as rhizomes or bulbs.
Most herb leaves are preferred to be used fresh, though drying is often used for both convenience and to ensure supply when leaves are not available, or not at their premium. Kitchen herbs such as chives and parsley can be kept growing through winter in pots placed inside in a sunny and warm position. Leaves are best harvested before flowering on most types of herbs. They are best cut mid morning after the dew has gone, only on a clear, dry day. They are best dried in a shaded position (sun dried herbs tend to loose more of their natural colour, and can loose more of the natural oils).
Most perennial herbs (eg: Mints) will loose up to 60% of their vegetative mass when they go to flower. Other plants are only harvested after flowering. Some herbs may be harvested in full flower and both flowers and foliage are used (eg: Chamomile for use as a tea; Scented geraniums for use in pot pourris; Lavender....etc.).
Herbs grown for the aromatic qualities of the foliage have maximum quality with respect to flavour or scent, at the time when flower buds just start to form.
Air drying is normally adequate.
Roots are normally dug in autumn and dried whole. Extra large roots may be sliced first then the slices are dried.
Artificial heat is desirable for root drying.
Harvesting Fruit and Seeds
Shade drying is preferable; though in commercial production, plants are often mowed then cocked for a while before threshing.
Coriander, caraway, anise and dill are field cured or ripened on canvas sheets or swaths or cocks.
With most seed harvesting it is best to cut in the early stages of ripening to avoid unnecessary losses from seed drop, and also to preserve maximum oil content and best colour in the harvested product. Seeds are ready to harvest when a slight tap on the seed head causes the seed to fall. Seeds harvested for culinary use may also be used for planting the next crop, provided viability is good.
Harvesting for Medicinal Use
Leaves, flowers, roots, bark, bulbs etc. are commonly used in botanic drugs. To get proper results from such herbs they must be harvested and handled properly., and most of all, collected at precisely the correct time of year. The demand for pure, clean, properly handled material is high, both in Australia, and throughout many other parts of the world.
LEAVES should always be collected on clear days, mid morning, after the dew. For most medicines, collect when the plant is starting to flower. Leaves of biennial plants are best collected in the second year of growth. To dry, spread out on a clean dry surface. Stir occasionally until thoroughly dry. Remove stems from leaves and only keep leaves which have retained their natural colour. Leaves can turn black due to dampness!
Leaves so affected should be discarded.
FLOWERS should be collected immediately after they open. Dry the same as for leaves and only retain those which keep their natural colour.
BULBS should be collected immediately after the leaves of the plant die (usually autumn). Remove the outer scales of the bulb, slice it, then dry it using artificial heat, but not over about 100degrees Fahrenheit.
BARKS should be collected autumn or spring. It is normally the inner bark which is required (remove the outer bark first). Most barks should be dried in sunlight (but not wild cherry).
SEEDS should be gathered on ripening. Only larger, fully developed seeds are useful
How the payment Options Work
You can be either pay fees in one or two parts.
- If paying in 2 parts, the first part is paid on enrolment, and the second part two months later (You are sent a bill when you enrol).
- If you pay the full fee on enrolment, we offer a discounted fee (commonly around 8% lower)