Horticulture is not just farming or growing of plants. It is the science and art of growing vegetables, fruits, medicinal plants, mushrooms, flowers, ornamental plants and herbs in an economically viable way. It also involves design of gardens, conservation of endangered plant species and the reuse of waste land. Horticulture also includes the production of non edible plant products of high economic value.
Horticulture deals with the science of cultivation with advanced techniques from the early stage of tissue culture, till the final productivity from the plants.
It includes the modern day practices like:
- Tissue culture
- Examination of minerals found in soil and its enrichment
- Preparation of soil according o the needs of the plants to be grown
- Plant propagation through stems, bulbs and roots (for e.g. now thousands of varieties of roses are available by using the grafting and budding propagation technique)
- Plantation of best quality seeds or seedlings or plants
- Control of pests and weeds
- Proper cutting and pruning
- Use of greenhouses or controlled environment rooms
- More improved techniques likes genetic engineering of plants are also involved in horticulture
Horticulture can be divided into culture of ornamental and edible plants.
Importance of Horticulture of edible plants:
- Fruit plants: Demands of fruits are increasing day by day. To meet the needs horticulture is extensively used to grow fruit plants throughout the year. Examples include apple, banana, grapes, orange, pears, pineapple etc., according to the climate of the region.
- Nut Plants: These plants earn a good income to the owner through oil seeds and nuts. Examples include almonds, cashew nuts, peanuts, pistachio, flaxseeds, soyabean, sesame etc.
- Tea and coffee plantations:
- Vegetables: To meet the increasing needs of the vegetables throughout the year Horticulture is practiced. It leads to high yields per square hectare of the land and also the engagement of the labour throughout the year. So the wastage of manpower is minimal.
- Herbs: Examples include coriander, cumin, dill, fennel, funugreek, garlic, ginger, laurel, marjoram, mint, mustard, nutmeg and mace, onion, oregano, parsley, pepper, poppy seed, rosemary, saffron, sage, savory, sesame, star anise, tarragon, thyme, and turmeric. , anise, basil, capsicums, caraway, cardamom, cinnamon, chervil, clove, etc.
- Mushroom Culture: Mushrooms are nutritious and have good demands in markets. They are cultivated extensively as a good source of earning. There are many institutes which emphasize on Mushroom culture and also conduct researches to increase its production. White button Mushrooms are most popular in India. Now through the development of technology and increased commercial practices, mushrooms are grown all year long and not only in winters.
Mushroom cultivation can be divided into Six Phases:
|Phase of Cultivation||Time Required||Temperature and Conditions|
|1. Phase I composting||6–14 days||Compost is prepared in this phase by mixing straw (as substrate), fertilizers, manure, gypsum and water. It is left for some days for the anaerobic microbial action which produces ammonia and CO2. This results in the food ready for the mushrooms, to grow. Compost is rich in nutrients and carbohydrates. The compost is turned in approx every two days and watered. It is stopped once temp reaches 145°F.|
|2. Phase II composting||7–18 days||This step involves the sterilization of the compost to reduce harmful microbes and worms. It can be done by increasing the temp of the compost and is done in environmentally controlled rooms. This process also removes ammonia and carbon dioxide gas produced, as this can hamper the mushroom growth. At the end of this phase the temp of the compost is lowered to around 75°F.|
|3. Spawning||14–21 days||At this stage spawn is added to the prepared bed. Mushrooms are like fruits which grow on the roots like structure called as Mycelium. At temp around 75°F and high humidity, spawn begins to grow forming Mycelium. They form a bed of spawn of white color. Once a spawn colony is developed properly, next step is done.|
|4. Casing||13–20 days||Casing is done by spreading the soil over the fully grown spawn, encasing it. It results in the formation of mushroom pins.Fertilizers and moisture level are increased for the good production.|
|5. Pinning||18–21 days||Pin like formation of recognizable mushrooms from mycelium can be seen in this phase. The pins grows into buttons and eventually Mushrooms.The level of Temperature, humidity and CO2 will also affect the number of pins, and mushroom size|
|6. Cropping||Done in cycles||Mushroom harvesting. From a single culture, mushrooms can be harvested till 45-60 days in cycles. Ventilation is very essential part. It takes approx 15-16 weeks for the completion of entire production cycle.|
Horticulture of ornamental plants includes generation of new varieties of ornamental plants and flowering plants.
Horticultural Societies in India: To set up an autonomous society Government of India came up with National Horticulture Board (NHB) in 1984. This was the major landmark in the awareness and utilization of horticulture sector in India. A National Horticulture Mission was launched in 2005-06 for the growth and spreading awareness about Horticulture. The Mission has been a part of Mission for Integration Development of Horticulture (MIDH) in 2014.
Education and Awareness: There is now increasing demand of horticulturists, tissue engineer scientists, and experts from this field, thus now there are many courses available in the universities on Horticulture. Also, more and more farmers have been educated about the modern techniques of Horticulture through, camps, village panchayats, televisions, horticultural societies and organizations, to increase their income.
Author : Ms Anushri Panwar