Home Vegetable Growing

Learn how to grow and harvest vegetables at home!

Course Code: AHT102
Fee Code: S1
Duration (approx) Duration (approx) 100 hours
Qualification Statement of Attainment
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Grow your own healthy veggies!

  • Delicious, fresh, seasonal and homegrown.

  • You know how they are grown and handled. No food miles.

  • Growing your own vegetables is so rewarding in so many ways.

Learn to grow your own vegetables with us and the reap the delicious rewards of your harvest!

ACS student comment: "Great course, tutor was really good with explaining and marking. [She] gave me new ideas for my garden and hints for it too. Learning so many new things about growing different vegetables, how to grow them and what to do. All about soils and garden plots." - Kathryn Crossfield, Australia - Home Vegetable Growing

You will learn such things as:

  • How to build a veggie garden.
  • Cultivation and planting.
  • The main types of vegetables.
  • How to make great compost.
  • Pest, disease and weed control.
  • Hydroponic and greenhouse growing.
  • Herbs and uncommon vegetable varieties.
  • Watering and irrigation systems.
  • Harvesting, storing and using vegetables.

“Lots of people are keen to grow their own food, and this course helps them gain the skills required to create their own vegetable gardens. It is easy to understand, practical, and can be adapted to your own garden requirements.” - Tracey Morris Dip.Hort., Cert.Hort., Cert III Organic Farming, ACS Tutor.

 



Lesson Structure

There are 8 lessons in this course:

  1. Introduction
  2. Cultivation and Planting
  3. Review of Major Vegetable Varieties
  4. Pest, Disease and Weed Control
  5. Hydroponic and Greenhouse Growing
  6. Lesser Grown Varieties and Herbs
  7. Irrigation
  8. Harvesting, Storing and Using Vegetables

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.

Aims

  • Identify a range of different vegetables
  • Determine sources and significance for information on vegetable growing
  • Describe the planting and cultivation of a range of different vegetables.
  • Describe production of some of the varieties of vegetable which are widely and commonly grown by home gardeners.
  • Evaluate and determine treatments for a range of common pest, disease and weed problems that affect vegetables
  • Determine and describe methods for producing a range of vegetable crops out of season.
  • Describe production of some of the varieties of vegetable which are less commonly grown by home gardeners.
  • Determine and describe ways of managing the water needs of vegetables in a home garden.
  • Describe when and how to harvest different types of vegetable crops.
  • Describe a range of methods for storing and using vegetables after harvest.

What You Will Do

  • Compile a resource file of organisations related to home vegetable growing
  • Compile reviews of sixteen different vegetables suitable for growing at home
  • Carry out basic soil tests on two different soils
  • Obtain or make up a propagating mix
  • Make a vegetable garden
  • Identify weed species in a vegetable garden and suggest control methods
  • Make notes about pests and diseases in a home vegetable garden
  • Contact several chemical suppliers and obtain brochures or technical information sheets on weedicides and pesticides appropriate for use on vegetable crops
  • Contact a few greenhouse companies and obtain both literature and current prices
  • Either write to or visit a company (or companies) which supply irrigation equipment.
  • Obtain catalogues, brochures, etc
  • Try drying, bottling or freezing a vegetable you have not preserved before.
  • List 20 different vegetables with information about their culture and harvest

SOME VEGETABLES ARE EASIER TO GROW

The easiest vegetables to grow will be different from place to place, and time to time. 

Carrots, for example, may suffer from certain pests and diseases in one country, climate or locality, but not in another. Certain varieties of lettuce may grow fast at certain times of the year, reaching a harvest-able size before any pests discover them; but a different variety, at a different time may grow slower, and be attacked by pests before they reasonable size.

Learning to grow vegetables really well may not be as straight forward as you might assume. You can of course grow vegetables and get a feed, without studying a course like this; but to make optimum use of the land, water, fertilizer and time you put into a vegetable plot, you need knowledge, good planning and experience.

This course is designed to get you on the right path.

HOW TO GROW CARROTS

Daucus carota var. sativa 

Carrots are relatively easy to grow, and have the added benefit of being ready to eat at any stage of their growth.

Feeding

Being a root crop, high levels of Nitrogen are not necessary to the carrot crop. Nitrogen levels should be minimised, and good levels of Phosphorus & Potassium should be maintained. Care should be taken if manure is added to the soil before planting the crop. If the manure is not thoroughly mixed into the soil, then a solid layer of manure can cause the carrot roots to divide and produce substandard results (this is known as fanging) as well as excessive top growth. A soil pH of around 6.3 is required .

Growing

Depending on variety, carrots can usually be grown all year round, but the seed is mainly sown during the spring and summer months. A well drained light, sandy soil is preferred with full sun, but carrots will grow in partial shade. The seed itself is quite small and fine, and for ease of handling it can be mixed with dry sand to increase its bulk. An alternative method is to place the seeds carefully on wet newspaper, tearing off strips and placing the strips onto the seed bed. The seed should only be lightly covered. The seed bed should be well soaked before seed sowing, and the ground kept moist until germination has occurred.

The resultant seedlings should be thinned out, and even the baby carrots can be eaten rather than discarded. The plants should be kept weed free and this is generally carried out by hand weeding and cultivating with a hoe between rows. Irrigation may well be needed in hot dry weather.

Problems

Pests that carrots are susceptible to include aphids as well as carrot root fly. Irregular watering will also cause the roots to split open.

Harvest

Carrots can be harvested at any time of their growing period, but generally they will take from 11 to 15 weeks to mature. They can be stored in the deep freezer or alternatively kept in a 'clamp' of soil or sand.

Varieties

Carrots are valuable in short, intermediate, and long rooted varieties. Short rooted varieties are more successful than deep rooting types in heavy or medium soil types.

Deep rooting types require a deep, loose, preferably sandy soil. Some varieties can be planted at any time of the year depending on climate.

 

 

PUMPKIN

Cucurbita pepo var. pepo

The plants need a large area to spread over, ideally sunny and frost free. If you have limited space, they can be grown on a trellis attached to a fence, but be sure the trellis is strong enough to support the heavy pumpkins as they develop.

Feeding

Pumpkins are similar in their nutritional requirements to cucumbers. They prefer a soil with a pH of between 5.5 to 7.5, and are heavy feeders. The soil should be built up with manure or compost before planting. Liquid feeding should be carried out when the plants are fruiting.

Growing

Seeds should be sown in spring after the dangers of frost have passed. The seed can be sown directly into the soil, or into pots and planted out later. Normal spacing allows for 60 cms between plants and 1.5 to 1.8 metres between rows. It is possible to grow the plants on a trellis to save space.

As the plants grow, runners produced should be pinched back to force side shoots and stop the plants spreading too far. These side shoots are more likely to produce female flowers which in turn will develop into fruit. Hand pollination of the female flowers will also increase the number of fruits. Without hand pollination and pinching out of the tip growths you will get fewer but larger pumpkins.

In cooler areas, the practice of applying mulch to the soil not only helps to control weeds, but also warms the soil and gets the crop moving earlier in the spring.

Problems

The pumpkin can suffer from a number of pests including mites, vine borer, aphids, bugs and nematodes. A lot of these pests can be deterred by planting Nasturtiums as companion plants. Diseases include anthracnose, damping off, downey mildew, powdery mildew, blights, foot rots, wilts and virus. In cool areas the most common problem is mildew in the early autumn, and of course frosts.

Harvest

Generally you will have to allow 75 to 100+ days from planting to harvest. The crop can usually be harvested when the fruit stem begins to shrivel, and the fruit should be cut with the stem still attached to it. Single fruits of some varieties can grow to several kilograms under extreme conditions. The fruit can be safely stored at 0 to 13 degrees C, and will keep for months in a cool dry place.

Varieties

  • Golden Nugget ‑ Small plants, golden fruit.
  • Sweet Dumpling ‑ Mini pumpkin, prolific, nutty flavour.
  • Big Max ‑ Huge fruit, can grow to 2 metres in circumference.
  • Jarrahdale ‑ Excellent storage, attractive grey skin and deep orange flesh.
  • Butternut ‑ Smaller vine and smaller pear or cylinder shaped yellow fruit.
  • Queensland Blue ‑ Very popular, fruits later than many others, but gives large fruit which have excellent keeping quality.
  • Baby Blue ‑ Small semi creeping vine and small fruit.
  • Buttercup ‑ Small compact vine plant with medium size fruit.
  • Butterbush ‑ Excellent small fruit on a small vine, good for small gardens, stores well.
  • Minikin ‑ Mini pumpkins good for eating and decoration, keep well, very dry flesh, 8 cms across, yield 6 to 7 fruits per plant.
  • Windsor Black ‑ One of the earliest to fruit.
  • Potkin Hybrid ‑ Can be eaten mature or immature, taste like a cross between potato and pumpkin.

 

RADISH

Raphanus sativus

Radishes are a very quick and easy crop to grow with crops maturing in four in warmer months. The seed can be sown all year round, and the crop will tolerate some degree of frost. Shade is needed in hot areas.

Feeding

They respond well to feeding with fertilisers, and Nitrogen and Phosphorus are important to their growth. Iron is often difficult to absorb due to lack of fine root hairs. A pH of 6 or 7 is ideal.

Growing

Sow direct into rows to a depth of 1 cm, and with rows about 25 ‑ 30 cms apart. The seedlings should be thinned out to about 3‑5 cm apart to allow the remaining plants to develop. As the crop grows so quickly it is a good idea to sow a few seeds at a time, and at 2‑3 week intervals so as to ensure a continuous supply. Radishes respond well to good watering during their growth.

Problems

Excessive heat will cause the plants to bolt, and if they are left in the soil to long they will go woody. Fusarium wilt can sometimes be a problem, and the foliage may often be attacked by leaf beetles.

Harvest

From sowing seed to harvest, the time can range from four weeks in the warm weather to seven weeks in the cooler months. Harvest by pulling the whole plant from the ground, and washing off any excess soil. Cut off the tops and store in the refrigerator.

Varieties

  • French Breakfast ‑ Bright Scarlet roots, 5‑8 cm long, tipped white.
  • Long Scarlet ‑ Long red roots with smooth skin.
  • Red Prince ‑ Wilt resistant roots, round short fruit.
  • White Icicle ‑ Crisp white fruits, quick grower.
  • White Ball ‑ Attractive round roots with white skin.
  • Black Spanish ‑ Roots blacked skinned with smooth pungent flesh.
  • Munchener Bier ‑ White roots, firm flesh, strong foliage to 20 cm.
  • Round Red ‑ One of the most popular varieties.
  • Winter ‑ Mild, can be eaten in stir fry dishes, good storage quality, can be up to 20 times larger than salad radishes.

 

SILVER BEET

Beta vulgaris

Also known as Swiss Chard, Silver Beet is very similar to Spinach but easier to grow. It is a cool season vegetable that will tolerate warm weather.

Feeding

Silver beet responds well to regular feeding. Continuous crops deplete nitrogen from the soil, which will need to be replaced. The soil should be prepared with manure or compost before planting. During the growing season, the plants should be fed with a nitrogenous fertiliser between the rows, but not too close to the plants.

Growing

The crop will normally grow easily from seed and can be sown in rows in moist soil. These rows should be 45 to 60 cms apart, and the seedlings can be thinned to 10 to 15 cms apart in the row. Regular watering will encourage good leaf growth in dry periods.

Problems

Leaf chewing pests are the biggest problem, and snails and slugs often need to be controlled, however the crop is reasonably immune from serious pest and disease problems.

Harvest

The leaves can be either pulled off or cut as close to the base as possible. Silver Beet will store in the bottom of the refrigerator for 2 weeks or more. Regular harvesting seems to encourage regrowth of leaf shoots.

Varieties

  • Fordhook ‑ Perhaps the most popular, dark green leaves with white stems.
  • Five Colour Mix ‑ Plant stem has red, yellow, orange and cream colours. Easy to grow.

 

 

WHAT THIS COURSE CAN DO FOR YOU

For many of our graduates, this course has been an experience well beyond their expectations; changing not only their ability to grow vegetables; but also their awareness of what they could grow and how it could be grown both better and easier.

Interacting with our team of professional horticulturists is a very special opportunity. Our staff include leading horticulture professionals from both Australia and the UK.

Every home across the world has the potential to grow vegetables successfully; but not always the same vegetables or in the same season. A big part of success is choosing varieties to match the time, place, and available resources.

  • If your soil is poor, there are ways around that (e.g. improving the soil, growing in containers or hydroponics).
  • If the environment is contaminated with chemicals, or prone to pest or disease plagues, there are ways to minimise those problems.
  • If the light, temperature, rain, wind, or other conditions are unsuitable, there are ways to deal with those issues too.

You will emerge from this course with more knowledge of how to deal with issues like these; and an awareness of where to find solutions to problems beyond these.

Good vegetable gardening is based upon broad concepts and principle. You learn to understand those concepts and principles; and everything else then starts to fall into place. You will be more capable of producing more food crops; better food crops, and managing what you produce to serve your needs more effectively, all year round.

 

 

Principal of ACS Distance Education, John Mason, is fellow of the CIH.

ACS Global Partner - Affiliated with colleges in seven countries around the world.

Member Nursery and Garden Industry Association.

Since 1999 ACS has been a recognised member of IARC (International Approval and Registration Centre). A non-profit quality management organisation servicing education.

ACS is a Member of the Permaculture Association (membership number 14088).


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Course Contributors

The following academics were involved in the development and/or updating of this course.

John Mason (Horticulturist)

Parks Manager, Nurseryman, Landscape Designer, Garden Writer and Consultant.
Over 40 years experience; working in Victoria, Queensland and the UK.
He is one of the most widely published garden writers in the world.

Adriana Fraser

Freelance writer, businesswoman, educator and consultant for over 30 years. Adriana has written extensively for magazines including free living publications -Grass Roots and Home Grown; and has authored or co authored many books ranging from a biography

Diana Cole

B.A. (Hons), Dip. Horticulture, BTEC Dip. Garden Design, Diploma Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development, PTLLS (Preparing to Teach in the Life Long Learning Sector), P.D.C.
In addition to the qualifications listed above, Diana holds City & Guild





Tutors

Meet some of the tutors that guide the students through this course.

Timothy Walker

B.A.(Botany), RHS.M. Hort., Post.Grad.Dip.Ed.

Timothy is a Botanist, Horticulturist and Gardener. He is an Author, and also a lecturer at Somerville College, Oxford. After training at a number of gardens including Windsor Great Park and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Timothy commenced work at Oxford Botanic Gardens in 1986. Appointed as "Horti Praefectus" (Superintendent/Director) there in 1988, he held that position until 2014. Under Timothy's watch, the garden won four gold medals at the Chelsea Flower Show, and developed 67 acres of MG5 wild flower meadow at the Harcourt Arboretum; a UK threatened habitat. Timothy remains an active practical gardener as well as a highly respected international academic in the fields of horticulture and plant botany.

Gaynor Hartley

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Yvonne Sharpe

RHS Cert.Hort, Dip.Hort, M.Hort, Cert.Ed., Dip.Mgt.

Over 30 years of experience in horticulture, education and management, Yvonne has travelled widely within and beyond Europe and has worked in many areas of horticulture from garden centres to horticultural therapy. She has served on industry committees and been actively involved with amateur garden clubs for decades.

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