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Level 2 Plant growth - another exam commentary for Soils and Nutrition
by Janet Prescott - Monday, 15 June 2020, 12:06 PM

R2102 June ‘19


a)      State ONE horticultural use of nettle tea.                                            1 mark

b)     Describe how to make nettle tea.                                                          4 marks

c)      Describe how to create a hotbed to grow early vegetables.           5 marks

This question relates to the following part of the syllabus:

Outcome 2.  Know the importance of organic matter in the root environment.

2.3 Describe methods of composting and their use/application in horticultural practices. 

Describe the importance of the following in the process of composting: choice of material, ratio of green to woody material, aeration, moisture content, lime, pH, temperature, insulation, accelerators, volume, establishment and development.

 Describe the creation of hot beds.

 Describe composting using wormeries.

 Describe the use of composted plant material as a soil improver, mulch, supplier of nutrients. 

 Describe how to make and use comfrey and nettle tea in order to supply nutrients. 

 State the environmental implications of the above mentioned practices.


Part a) is straightforward and the examiners’ comments suggest correct answers as the use as a liquid fertiliser or as a compost activator.

4 marks are allocated for part b), so a good amount of description is required. Make sure you have at least four well described points for this. Many questions state the number of points you need for an answer, such as part a) with ONE use, or other questions where you may need THREE examples, or TWO factors etc. You won’t get any more marks for these if you include more points than asked for. However, for a question that asks you to ‘describe’ or ‘explain’ for example, with no specified number, put in all points that you think are relevant.


The examiners’ comments suggest the following for part b):

Harvest the nettles before they flower and cut them up before placing them into a netted sack. Place the sack in a container e.g. a water butt or dustbin with a lid and tap at the base. The sack can be weighted down with bricks and covered with water and left for 3-4 weeks. The concentrated liquid is tapped off and diluted at a ratio of 1:10 with water before use.


Part c) is allocated 5 marks so further detail is needed. The examiners’ comments suggest the following:

Fresh manure and straw are mixed together and a 60cm layer is placed on the floor of a deep, timber cold frame. This mixture is wetted and covered with a 30cm layer of top soil before the glass frame lights are closed and left for one week. Once the temperature reaches 24OC the bed is ready to be planted.



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Re: Level 2 Plant growth - another exam commentary for Soils and Nutrition
by Janet Prescott - Monday, 15 June 2020, 12:18 PM

This is an example of a type of question you can get,  where sometimes examiners put together some of the 'outlying' elements in a unit's syllabus (minor points mentioned in the indicative content but  which aren't as 'core' to the topic perhaps as understanding NPK or soil texture)  to make up a complete question. 

If it had been anything other than Question 1 it probably wouldn't have been so daunting to candidates.   It's a reminder to read through all the questions before you begin answering, and don't be put off right at the beginning of the exam if you don't think you can recall much for the first question.

If you can't think of something to put down immediately, leave it, answer  the ones you know well and and then go back and apply common sense if you can't recall many hard facts!