Organic Plant Culture

100 hour organic plant culture course and benefit from ACS tutors' years of experience and numerous qualifications in this field. Study via distance education, from anywhere in the world.

Course CodeBHT302
Fee CodeS2
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

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Learn to Grow Organic Food at Home

  • Create Gardens or Grow Crops with fewer Pests; and no chemicals
  • Convert a garden to organics
  • Develop skills to work as a gardener; to get a job or develop your own business.

“This is a very intensive course that develops your ability to grow and market a range of crops. Grow your own organic crops or advise others.  Many opportunities exist in this field as public interest is rapidly increasing. Organic growing is the path to the future.” - Adriana Fraser Cert.Hort., Cert.Child Care, Adv.Cert.App.Mgt., Cert 1V Assessment and Training, Adv.Dip.Hort., ACS Tutor.

Is Organic Really Healthier?

  • Organic growing will avoid using undesirable chemicals or anything else that can contaminate people or the environment; and it's obviously healthier to avoid undesirable contaminants.
  • Organics also uses manures, mulches and other organic materials that may otherwise have been waste -and that has to be healthier for the environment (and in turn healthier for all of us who share the environment

Lesson Structure

There are 10 lessons in this course:

  1. Introduction Gardening styles, basic organic procedures, etc.
  2. Plant Culture
  3. Understanding Soils
  4. Fertilizers and Plant Nutrition
  5. Soil Management
  6. Pests & Diseases
  7. Mulching
  8. Seeds - Collecting, storing & sowing
  9. Vegetable Growing in your locality
  10. Fruit Growing in your locality

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.


  • Explain the concepts and principles of organic growing, including the common techniques used in organic growing systems (Part A).
  • Explain the concepts and principles of organic growing, including the common techniques used in organic growing systems (Part B).
  • Determine soil management procedures, which are consistent with organic growing principles.
  • Explain how pests and diseases are controlled using organic growing principles
  • Determine appropriate mulches for use in different organic growing situations.
  • Determine the appropriate use of seed propagation, in organic plant culture.
  • Plan the production of an organically grown vegetable food crop
  • Plan the production of an organically grown fruit crop

What You Will Do

  • Determine the roles of different organic farming and gardening organisations.
  • Explain how organic crops can be 'certified' as being organic in your country.
  • Explain the application of crop rotation in a specified garden, or farm.
  • Describe the construction of a 'No-Dig' garden, using materials readily available in your locality.
  • Explain the intended aims of a specific 'Permaculture' designed garden.
  • Explain different organic growing concepts, including: *biodynamics *sustainable agriculture *companion planting *fallowing *composting *recycling.
  • Explain how organic matter may benefit plants growing in different soils.
  • Compare the advantages with disadvantages of using organic versus non-organic fertilizers.
  • Determine different organic fertilizers that are commonly available in your locality.
  • Compare factors affecting the selection of different organic fertilisers, including: *Proportions of different nutrients *Likelihood of burn *Buffering characteristics *Where it is to be used *Method of handling *Cost *Availability.
  • Determine mulch materials readily available for organic growing in your locality.
  • Compare different mulches suitable for organic growing systems, in terms of: *Interaction with water (eg. repellence, absorbency, drainage) *Nitrogen draw down *Toxins *Rate of decomposition *Insulation properties *Weed suppression *Availability *Cost *Nutrient content *Ease of handling.
  • Explain how different, specified leguminous plant species, may be used to improve soil fertility.
  • Explain how different worm species may be used to improve soil fertility, on a specific site.
  • Determine how soils on a specific site may be managed, using organic principles.
  • Explain the different methods of natural control of pests and diseases, including:
  • *Quarantine *Natural sprays *Physical controls *Plant selection
  • *Use of natural predators *Environment manipulation.
  • Determine commercially available, naturally derived sprays that can be used in organic growing.
  • Explain the benefits of ten specified examples of companion planting, including:
  • *Repelling pests away from crop plants *Attracting pests to bait plants
  • *Improving soil (structure and nutrition) *Deterring growth of pests and diseases.
  • Develop criteria for evaluating pesticides, including natural pesticides, for use in an organic garden or farm.
  • Develop appropriate programs to control pests and diseases on different, specified cultivated plants.
  • Develop guidelines for seed variety selection, appropriate to organic plant culture.
  • Explain the importance of preserving seed sources of 'older' plant varieties.
  • Compile a catalogue of different, reliable seed sources for organic culture.
  • Explain appropriate methods for storage of different types of seed.
  • Explain various ways dormancy factors can affect seed germination.
  • Develop an annual timetable for planting different varieties of vegetables, appropriate to organic growing systems, in your district.
  • Compare the culture of different specified vegetable species, in organic with non organic production.
  • Prepare organic production schedules for different food crops, including:
    • *A vegetable *A fruit *A berry.


When you grow organically though, you are increasing (or at least sustaining) the amount of organic material in the soil.

Soils that have more organic material tend to remain more stable. They heat up and cool down more slowly. They contain more of the necessary microorganisms that are needed to make plants grow well, and they are better able to supply plants with micro nutrients needed to see plants grow and produce the best crops. Opinions will always differ on how beneficial organics really is; but there is no doubt that there are some indisputable advantages.

How to Move Toward More Sustainable Land Management

When we manage land we need to think about the wider consequences of all our actions, as these contribute to the sustainability, resilience and well-being.

Prevention of problems is better economically, socially and environmentally rather than trying to cure them.

When we take into consideration all aspects of land management, i.e. its environmental impacts, its social impacts and its economic impacts, we are better able to ensure the long term viability, sustainability health and productivity of the land. Important ways to help achieve this are:

  • Avoid using land outside of its capabilities. A good example is using drylands for extensive rather than intensive cropping.
  • Avoid compromising the productivity potential of land through mismanagement, as it thereby loses its economic potential.
  • Maintain productivity potential. The land’s ability to preserve its water holding ability should be maintained. Hydrophobic soil compromises productivity and encourages habitat loss and lowers biodiversity. The ability of soil to retain and recycle nutrients is also vital, to enhance plant productivity on-site, rather than nutrients being lost, causing pollution in water sources.
  • Retain or improve vegetation cover, as this is often a key to protecting land.
  • Preventing land degradation or rehabilitating land requires social solutions as much as technical solutions. Land users must be involved in providing these solutions, not merely as a result of enforcement by regulatory authorities.
  • Achieve sustainable land use. The way land is used today should never reduce it's potential use tomorrow.
  • Broader environmental aspects should always be taken into account. Habitat loss, biodiversity loss, shrinking genetic pools, pest and weed invasion and their control, appropriate tillage methods, soil conservation and erosion prevention and control (e.g. creating contours), the protection of rehabilitation areas (degraded sites e.g. through erosion or salinity), minimising energy use, controlling waste, protecting natural vegetation and habitats, minimising run-off into waterways; should all be part of a land management plan.

Organic Growing isn't always Perfect -but it's Usually Better


Every graduate will have a different journey through this course. That is the way our courses are designed. They give you lots of options to undertake practical and research projects in different ways, interacting with our academic staff one to one, getting original and unique feedback tailored to your own needs.

As such, different students will have built knowledge and awareness of different aspects of organic growing.
Every student will however, leave this course with a fundamental understanding of the  things that underpin all organic growing; and a capacity to see possibilities to apply what they learned in ways they may not have envisaged before commencing their studies.

Not sure where to start? 
Our academic staff can help you to choose the right course for you. 
They can advise you on single 100 hour modules or help create study pathways for you that will expand your employment or business opportunities to suit your needs now and into the future.

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Maggi Brown

Maggi is regarded as an expert in organic growing throughout the UK, having worked for two decades as Education Officer at the world renowned Henry Doubleday Research Association. She has been active in education, environmental management and horticulture
Marius Erasmus

Subsequent to completing a BSc (Agric) degree in animal science, Marius completed an honours degree in wildlife management, and a masters degree in production animal physiology. Following the Masters degree, he has worked for 9 years in the UK, and South
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
Bob James

Horticulturalist, Agriculturalist, Environmental consultant, Businessman and Professional Writer. Over 40 years in industry, Bob has held a wide variety of senior positions in both government and private enterprise. Bob has a Dip. Animal Husb, B.App.Sc.,
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