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Horticulture is the industry and science of plant cultivation including the process of preparing soil for the planting of seeds, tubers, or cuttings. Horticulturists work and conduct research in the disciplines of plant propagation and cultivation, crop production, plant breeding and genetic engineering, plant biochemistry, and plant physiology. The work particularly involves fruits, berries, nut, vegetables, flowers, trees, shrubs, and turf. Horticulturists work to improve crop yield, quality, nutritional value, and resistance to insects, diseases, and environmental stresses. Horticulture usually refers to gardening on a smaller scale, while agriculture refers to the large-scale cultivation of crops.The word is composite, from two words, horti, meaning grass, originating in the Greek χορτον, meaning the same (grass) and the word culture.

The study of horticulture

Horticulture involves 8 areas of study, which can be grouped into two broad sections - ornamentals and edibles:
  • Arboriculture is the study of, and the selection, planting, care, and removal of, individual trees, shrubs, vines, and other perennial woody plants.
  • Floriculture includes the production and marketing of floral crops.
  • Landscape horticulture includes the production, marketing and maintenance of landscape plants.
  • Olericulture includes the production and marketing of vegetables.
  • Pomology includes the production and marketing of fruits.
  • Viticulture includes the production and marketing of grapes.
  • Postharvest physiology involves maintaining the quality of and preventing the spoilage of hortocultural crops.


Horticulturists can work in industry, government or educational institutions or private collections. They can be cropping systems engineers, wholesale or retail business managers, propagators and tissue culture specialists (fruits, vegetables, ornamentals, and turf), crop inspectors, crop production advisers, extension specialists, plant breeders, research scientists, and of course, teachers.

Disciplines which complement horticulture include biology, botany, entomology, chemistry, mathematics, genetics, physiology, statistics, computer science, and communications, garden design, planting design. Plant science and horticulture courses include: plant materials, plant propagation, tissue culture, crop production, post-harvest handling, plant breeding, pollination management, crop nutrition, entomology, plant pathology, economics, and business. Some careers in horticultural science require a masters (MS) or doctoral (PhD) degree.

Horticulture is practiced in many gardens, "plant growth centres" and nurseries. Activities in nurseries range from preparing seeds and cuttings to growing fully mature plants. These are often sold or transferred to ornamental gardens or market gardens.

Horticulture and anthropology

Horticulture has a very long history. The study and science of horticulture dates all the way back to the times of Alexander the Great, and has been going on ever since, with present day horticulturists such as Freeman S. Howlett, the revolutionary horticulturist. The origins of horticulture lie in the transition of human communities from nomadic hunter-gatherers to sedentary or semi-sedentary horticultural communities, cultivating a variety of crops on a small scale around their dwellings or in specialized plots visited occasionally during migrations from one area to the next. (such as the "milpa" or maize field of Mesoamerican cultures). In forest areas such horticulture is often carried out in swiddens ("slash and burn" areas). A characteristic of horticultural communities is that useful trees are often to be found planted around communities or specially retained from the natural ecosystem.

Horticulture sometimes differs from agriculture in (1) a smaller scale of cultivation, using small plots of mixed crops rather than large field of single crops (2) the cultivation of a wider variety of crops, often including fruit trees. In pre-contact North America the semi-sedentary horticultural communities of the Eastern Woodlands (growing maize, squash and sunflower) contrasted markedly with the mobile hunter-gatherer communities of the Plains people. In Central America, Maya horticulture involved augmentation of the forest with useful trees such as papaya, avocado, cacao, ceiba and sapodilla. In the cornfields, multiple crops were grown such as beans (using cornstalks as supports), squash, pumpkins and chilli peppers, in some cultures tended mainly or exclusively by women.

Gallery

Image:Butchart gardens.JPG|The Butchart Gardensmarker, British Columbiamarker, CanadamarkerImage:Cool Greenhouse.jpg|Cool climate greenhouse extend the growing seasonImage:Community Garden, Melbourne, Australia.jpg|Community gardens often have several horticultural practices in use


See also



References

Further reading

  • C K Adams, Principles of Horticulture Butterworth-Heinemann; 5th edition (11 Aug 2008), ISBN 0750686944


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