Horticulture is a short course at ETSS Wicklow. The course is practical in nature with an element of theory to reinforce the practical side. There will be an emphasis on the out-of-school environment as an important learning resource that will give students a range of practical skills for everyday life. The skills range from learning where food comes from, to growing various ingredients for their meals. This course can motivate students to eat nutritious, healthy food. Essential skills are developed through cultivating plants, garden design, planning, budgeting and working to a timeline.                                                                                                                                     


  • Develop a passion for horticulture and practical learning skills
  • Acquire basic skills associated with agricultural/horticultural processes
  • Give students a basic knowledge of the tools and equipment used to improve plant growth and reproduction
  • Learn how to work and communicate in a team
  • Develop practical work-related skills that might encourage students to embark upon a rewarding career in the horticulture industry

At ETSSW the Horticulture short course will cover six strands; Horticulture safety and equipment, Plant identification, care and maintenance, Plant propagation, Growing fruit and vegetables, Plant Science, Garden design.

Strand 1 Horticulture Safety & Equipment:

  1. Identify safety hazards associated with horticultural and the range of equipment used
  2. Demonstrate the correct techniques for manual lifting and carrying
  3. Use appropriate PPE for horticultural tasks
  4. Demonstrate a method of encouraging biodiversity in the garden
  5. List common tools and equipment used in horticulture and how to use them safely
  6. Use a range of hand tools safely
  7. Correctly store tools and equipment
  8. Demonstrate the ability to follow safety procedures including lifting, carrying and handling of plants, tools and equipment.

Strand 2 Plant Identification, Care and Maintenance:

  1. List examples of common plants from each of the following categories: trees, shrubs, bedding, vegetable, fruiting, indoor, herbaceous, weeds
  2. Use a plant identification key to identify plants
  3. Identify what type of plants grow in different climates and why
  4. Plant a range of common plants
  5. Research the optimal growing conditions for a range of common plants
  6. Be responsible for watering, feeding and weeding plants
  7. Create a plan protect plants from damage by frost, wind, pests and disease

Strand 3 Plant Propagation:

  1. Demonstrate how to propagate plants using sexual and asexual methods
  2. Mix compost to ensure it is suitable for the plants being propagated
  3. Demonstrate how to plant a variety of plants in either plant pots or soil or both
  4. Propagate plants by cuttings, division and layering
  5. Identify a range of plants that can be propagated by different methods
  6. Maintain plants after they have been propagated

Strand 4 Growing Fruit and Vegetables:

  1. State the major factors affecting soil suitability for fruit production to include soil composition, nutrient availability, water holding capacity, drainage, organic matter content and compaction
  2. Prepare ground for fruit and vegetable growth to include digging, breaking up of soil, removal of debris, weeds and large stones to form suitable surface
  3. Apply compost, manure and fertiliser to plants
  4. Deal with weeds to include identification and control by a range of methods
  5. Maintain growing fruit crops to include watering, weather and pest protection, pruning, training and supporting
  6. State the principles of crop rotation including a rationale and examples
  7. Grow a range of vegetables

Strand 5 Plant Science:

  1. Name and describe various plant life cycles
  2. Describe the external and internal structure of a plant
  3. Briefly describe how structure relates to function
  4. Describe why plants need light and explain how leaves help trap light
  5. Describe why plants need water and explain how some plants can survive in drought conditions
  6. Explain why too much water can be bad for plants
  7. Identify the properties of soil and how plants use soil

Strand 6 Designing Gardens:

  1. Research suitable plant to grow in a particular area/garden
  2. Create a garden design using drawing techniques
  3. Carry out a site survey
  4. Create a work plan with timeline
  5. Establish a budget and work within it
  6. Build basic garden structures