Home Vegetable Growing

Course CodeAHT102
Fee CodeS1
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

Kitchen Garden Course

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

Even in today’s complex and technology-driven society the hunter-gatherer instinct is strongly present within most of us. Growing edible plants and creating beautiful garden spaces is a way that we can keep in touch with nature and the simpler joys of life.

Why grow herbs and vegetables?

Watching plants grow from seed to harvest and knowing that the armful of vegies and herbs you have just gathered for the evening meal will be on the table within an hour or two of harvest can be an exciting and satisfying experience.

There are lots of other reasons to grow vegies:

  • You can avoid nasty chemicals
  • You can save money
  • You have the satisfaction of being self sufficient
  • You know what you are using (you can never be sure that purchased products are pure and uncontaminated)
  • You have a reliable supply of preferred varieties.
  • Your food is fresher
  • Just for fun!

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.

 

The most obvious reason to grow vegies or herbs is to harvest and use them but that isn’t the only reason. Many vegetables and herbs can be just as attractive or functional as the ornamental and amenity plants we grow.

Using herbs and vegies for better visual impact is simply a matter of plant selection and arrangement. In the past, when almost every house was on a quarter-acre block, vegetables were grown in separate beds in the backyard, with each variety planted in neatly spaced rows. These days few householders have the space or time to devote to this style of gardening, so it makes sense to grow edible plants alongside ornamental varieties. For example, a bed of edible and ornamental plants could include perennial lettuces as edging plants, climbing peas on tripods, clumps of rainbow chard and leafy parsley for colour and texture, backed by a screen of sweet corn. There are endless possibilities of combinations – a task made easier each season’s release of exciting new compact and colourful varieties.

Vegetables and herbs can also be used to improve the backyard environment. Planting green manures and using organic mulches and composts will improve soil fertility and help to control erosion. Problem soils, such as excessively wet or dry soils, can also be improved by choosing varieties adapted to those conditions.

In a small but important way, growing vegetables will increase the biodiversity of your garden – the vegie patch will be a haven for bees, birds, lizards and other animals in need of food, water and shelter.

Can You Be Self Sufficient on an Average Home Site?

It’s possible to provide for many of your needs, but you may need to modify your expectations.

If you want every luxury that modern society can offer, then you are going to need more than what your garden can give you, but if you are prepared to be only part self sufficient or to live with less, then go for it.

What you produce from your garden will depend on the amount of space that you have. Obviously the larger the property, the more potential you will have to produce a large variety of crops. Large properties can support a range of fruit trees, vines, vegetables, herbs, grains and even hay and straw, as well as animals and chickens. The smaller the property, the more thought you will need to give to what you do and don’t grow. Ask yourself what would I like to produce? Then take it from there.

What can you make using produce from your garden?
Turning the produce into preserves and other usable items can be as much fun as the actual growing. For those who are looking to be self sufficient this is an extension of growing your own food, and a necessity to help you through winter and early spring, when fresh produce can start to dwindle.

Following is a short list of what you could consider making:

  • Preserves
  • Chutney
  • Dried foods
  • Oil
  • Soap
  • Cloth
  • Fertiliser / compost
  • Mulch
  • Seed (for next year’s planting)
  • Fruit juices
  • Wine

There are Lots of Options
There are many different ways you can grow vegetables; and an almost endless range of varieties to choose from.
The method you choose and the varieties you grow should depend upon the time, space, level of knowledge and other resources available to you.

One Way of Growing Vegetables
A productive vegetable garden needn't take up a lot of time either, by using the "No-Dig" method of gardening a vegetable garden of generous size could be assembled in a mornings work.
The method used in this type of garden is quite simple, layers of material are placed on top of the ground and seedlings are planted with a handful of soil. The materials needed would be found on most farms: Old hay, straw, newspapers, manure and some fertiliser such as blood and bone are all that is needed. If the ground is very hard or rocky it is advisable to put down a thick layer of old hay (about 20cm) first and then build your layers up from there, kitchen scraps can be incorporated into the mixed layers alternating with manure, spoilt hay blood and bone etc. It is advisable to water it all as you go along and top it with wet overlapped newspapers and a layer of old straw to keep it all in place. Holes are punched into the paper through the straw and the seedlings planted with a handful of soil. No weeding required. This method also requires less water as the mulch is extremely water retentive. Most vegetables thrive in this method. Crops that need seed to be sown directly into the soil such as carrots and onions could be planted in a conventional patch on their own.

Seeds are very cheap, a few packet of seeds such as cabbage lettuce etc. has potentially hundreds of plants in them. It is well worth the effort to grow your own seedlings as well. A lot of farm produce stores also sell seeds such as corn, peas and seed potatoes (tubers) and onion sets in bulk, translating into a further cost reduction.

Once your garden is established and producing vegetables you will most certainly find yourself with a glut.

Of course to be relatively self sufficient a lot of the produce you can't consume immediately could be preserved for use later. Fruits such as strawberries, blackberries etc can be turned into jams and jellies for later use or for sale.

Corn freezes well as do beans and peas. Potatoes can be stored in the ground for as long as possible, just lift up the mulch and take what you need on a daily basis. Towards the end of winter remove the top mulch and store the remaining potatoes in a cool dry place. Tomatoes can be turned into sauce, paste, or bottled for use over the winter months.
 
Eat what is in season

 

Don’t Expect a Perfect Result all the Time
....maybe not perfect, but with the right technique results can be much better.
 
Vegetable Growing deals with living things and as such is somewhat unpredictable and variable. The way you treat a plant is different from place to place, time to time and according to what you are trying to get from the plant. Some failures are inevitable, but you will learn from failures as well as successes, and over time with guidance from an expert tutor, and experimentation. Even commercial growers have some failures; but on balance; the successes make it all very worth while.

You can learn not only how to grow better at  home; but also, what to grow, to minimize the frequency of failures.

 

HOME GARDENERS CAN BENEFIT FROM THIS COURSE

Be self sufficient

Grow for yourself and others

Pick fresh 'clean' vegtables from your garden


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