Learn to grow your own vegetables at home: be healthier, save money - potatoes and tomatoes, lettuce and carrots to brassicas and more.

Course Code: AHT102
Fee Code: S1
Duration (approx) Duration (approx) 100 hours
Qualification Statement of Attainment
Get started!

Learn how to grow vegetables at home!

Watching plants grow from seed to harvest and knowing that the armful of vegetables 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. And you will also know that you and your family are eating the freshest, healthiest chemical free produce.

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

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.


  • 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.

What Veggies can you Grow Quickly?

Some vegetables are very fast growing. In fact, providing you give them the right conditions, you can be harvesting and eating veggies within 1–2 months after planting.

  • Radish is one of the fastest growing vegetables. It can be harvested and eat within 4 weeks of planting in spring or autumn.
  • Spring onions and carrots can be thinned out when young and the smaller ones eaten. Keep eating /harvesting over the following 2–3 months as the plants mature.
  • Lettuce – pick and use the outer leaves as the plant grows. Eventually a heart forms and you can harvest the whole plant.
  • Parsley can be picked within a few weeks of planting.
  • Silver beet, spinach and Chinese greens – pick the outer leaves as the plants grow.

Buy advanced plants – Tomatoes in larger pots with flowers (even fruit) can be harvested within a few weeks of planting.  DON’T be too drastic. If you take too many leaves off, the growth will be slowed.

TIP: As a general guide, you can safely remove up to 20% of foliage from a healthy, fast-growing leafy vegetable such as lettuce, silver beet or parsley.

How to Maximise Growth

A fast-grown veggie will not only mature faster, it often tastes better and is more tender.

  • Feed properly – overfeeding burns roots; under feeding slows growth.
  • Water properly – keep soil moist NOT waterlogged; NEVER dry! Cover the soil with mulch to conserve moisture.
  • Ensure drainage is good – if not, plant the veggies in raised beds, hydroponics, pots or no-dig beds.
  • Use good quality soil – this is imperative for healthy, fast growth. All soils can be improved with lots of well-rotted organic matter (such as compost, animal manure).
  • Grow in full sun – all veggies like lots of sunlight.
  • Control pests and diseases – particularly snails and slugs. Try to use safe chemical-free products to control your pests and diseases.
  • Control weeds – they compete for space and nutrients. Pull them out by hand or with a hoe before they flower and set seed.

If the weather is cold, give the plant a head start in a greenhouse or with some other type of cover (e.g. a cloche).

How to Feed Veggies Properly

Prepare the soil before applying the fertiliser by digging in compost, manure or some other organic material and make sure it is thoroughly mixed into the soil.

Follow the instructions on the fertiliser packet.

Be careful that concentrated fertilisers (even organic fertilisers) never come directly in contact with the plant foliage or roots – they can burn and kill plant tissues.

Liquid fertilisers applied often but in a weak solution (organic or inorganic) are generally more effective at maintaining consistent fast growth than longer-acting fertilisers.

Crop Rotation – a Natural, Healthy Way to Control Pests and Diseases

This involves growing different groups of vegetables each season in different beds. By rotating your crops in different beds, you can discourage some pests and diseases and reduce the need for using chemical controls.

Look at the list of 'groups' of vegetables below. Don't grow a vegetable in a particular area if another vegetable out of the same group was grown in that spot recently. Keep alternating the type of vegetable in a particular spot!

  • Brassicas ­– Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Sea kale, Kohl Rabi, Turnip, Swede, Radish, Horseradish
  • Cucurbits – Cucumber, Marrow, Pumpkin, Squash, Cantaloupe (ie. Rock Melon), Zucchini
  • Onion, Leeks, Garlic, Asparagus, Chives
  • Legumes – Peas and Beans
  • Corn
  • Celery, Carrot, Parsnip, Fennel
  • Chicory, Lettuce, Endive, Globe Artichoke
  • Silver beet, Red beet (i.e. Beetroot) and Spinach
  • Tomato, Capsicum, Potato, Egg Plant

Plant Vegetables Anywhere and Everywhere

Vegetable gardens can be very attractive, as can some vegetable plants when incorporated into ornamental garden borders. You can plant them anywhere you want; and they don't need to be out of place anywhere. 

  • Plant vegetables in your front garden.
  • Replace your lawn with vegetables
  • Grow big tubs of vegetables around your verandah or patio
  • Plant them among shrubs and trees in garden beds
  • If space is limited; plant them vertically (Create a "green wall" of vegetables on a fence or the wall of your house
Veggies do not necessarily have to ONLY be planted with other veg and you don’t need to only plant vegies en-mass. In fact why do we have to grow many asparagus, plants side by side creating mini monocultures in our own gardens? Why don’t we scatter them round the garden, among other plants? Think outside the box and change your approach to vegetable gardening and you could produce an attractive and sustainable, healthy garden, that also attracts lots of beneficial insects and feeds you and your family at the same time.

Thinking about vegetables and herbs this way can open up possibilities within the garden: brightly coloured kale, lettuce, rhubarb and herbs can be used to replace, or combine with flowering annuals (use edible flowers such as calendulas to extend the possibilities even further). Plants such as chives and parsley have attractive foliage and also make lovely border plants; garlic chives is evergreen and produces umbels of white flowers in late autumn and winter, it looks stunning and is an easy care, drought tolerant, edging plant. Garlic is great planted under roses and may help ward of insect pests; traditional ornamental plants can also be mixed with vegetables and herbs to create wonderful harmonies and contrasts. Think wispy grasses with the rounded cabbages; colourful chard stems with flat ground covers e.g. prostate thymes; Blue-grey kale with miniature red dahlias and so on.

Making a Vegetable Garden Really Attractive

However what if you like the idea of a dedicated vegetable plot, but don’t like the way it can be messy and look tired by the end of the season? The best approach to this problem is to provide the plot with some structure; a neatly hedged vegetable garden with well-arranged beds and paths, and a central focal point as such as a large pot or arbour, or even a sculpture, can solve this problem. The eye is drawn to lines; hedges and paths and timber raised beds all produce lines in the garden – this gives the garden structure and interest. It draws the eye away from the more ‘messy’ aspects of vegetable gardening such as floppy plants and dying foliage.

Here are some ideas on how you can add structure and interest to your vegetable garden:
  • You can arrange beds and paths in a formal pattern – this adds structure to the garden.
  • Create long vistas – use a long central path that is paved, grassed or mulched – place a focal point at the end, such as a pot or statue or sculpture, to draw the eye down the vista. This makes your garden seem bigger and adds of sense of grandness to the design.
  • Place a pond at the centre of the garden – it adds interest, creates humidity and cools the immediate area; it attracts insects, frogs and other wildlife to your garden – and thereby improves its environmental health. The pond could be a formal square or rectangular shape for a formal approach or could be shaped less formally for a natural garden.
  • Create beds at different heights – this adds interest and an ‘arty’ look. Try painting the outside faces of the beds in vibrant colours. Kids love this too.
  • Use rounded edges – round or curved garden beds and curved paths – this is an informal approach and would be suitable within a natural or bush garden.
  • Use low hedges to provide structure around your vegetable garden, or in place of timber beds. Choose the smaller varieties of box e.g. Japanese box (Buxus microphylla), which can be maintained easily at about 50cm high. Remember that if you use plants to edge your veggie beds, then they need to tolerate regular watering – Japanese box will do this, but plants such as lavender may less accommodating preferring drier conditions. You can use plants that need less water for the outer hedging – lavenders, rosemary, spindle bush (Euonymus japonicus var. microphyllus ‘Tom Thumb’) for example are most suited to this purpose.
  • Use step-over or espaliered fruit trees as a border to the garden, under-plant with herbs or annuals.

Some Useful Planting Suggestions

  • Grow perennial veggies together in one section of the vegetable patch or in a separate bed where they won't be disturbed by the preparations for the planting and cultivation of shorter-lived crops.
  • Plant tall crops, where possible, on the southern side of the vegetable patch where they won't shade out other crops.
  • Plant crops in long rows rather than in clumps or short rows. This makes cultivation easier, particularly if you are going to use rotary hoes, etc.
  • Crops that mature around the same time should be planted together so that an entire section of a bed becomes available for preparation for the next crop rather than patches here and there.



You will learn so much about vegetables in this course.

You will see possibilities for growing things you might not have considered growing before; and through a much more in depth understanding of how to grow vegetables you will be able to plan, create, and manage vegetable growing with far better productivity, for less inputs of time and money.

  • Don't waste time and money growing crops that are unlikely to perform
  • Save money be growing more of your own food
  • Eat much healthier by growing fresher, chemical free food

Member of the Future Farmers Network

Member of the International Herb Association since 1988

UK Register of Learning Providers, UK PRN10000112

Our principal John Mason is a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Horticulture

ACS Distance Education is a member of the Australian Garden Council, Our Principal John Mason is a board member of the Australian Garden Council

Member of the Nursery and Garden Industry Association since 1993

ACS is an official sponsor of the AIH. The principal, John Mason, is a fellow of AIH. ACS holds Training Provider status with the AIH and is listed as a Preferred Member Training Provider.

Member of the Permaculture Association

Member of Study Gold Coast

Institute of Training and Occupational Learning (UK)

Recognised since 1999 by IARC

Course Contributors

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

Adriana Fraser (Horticulturist)

Adriana has worked in horticulture since the 1980's. She has lived what she preaches - developing large gardens and growing her own fruit, vegetables and herbs and making her own preserves.
In 1992 she formalised her training by graduating with a certif

Dr. Lynette Morgan (Crops)

Lyn has a broad expertise in horticulture and crop production. Her first job was on a mushroom farm, and at university she undertook a major project studying tomatoes. She has studied nursery production and written books on hydroponic production of herbs.

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; author of more than 70 books and edito

Need Help?

Take advantage of our personalised, expert course counselling service to ensure you're making the best course choices for your situation.

I agree for ACS Distance Education to contact me and store my information until I revoke my approval. For more info, view our privacy policy.