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Grow and harvest vegetable crops

  • Learn to grow and harvest a wide range of vegetable crops for a commercial market garden.
  • After enrolling, watch our "orientation video" and discover how to use all sorts of services to support your study.
  • Lots of flexibility is where and how often you study -even what your learning is focused on
  • Exams are optional and only needed if you want to use this study as a credit in a formal qualification -even then, we always give you the option to repeat exams
  • Exceptional tutor support -Our horticulture faculty includes a dozen university trained professionals most with decades of industry experience. You have unlimited access to tutors over the phone or email.


Course Aim 

Develop your skills to grow and manage a commercial vegetable crop.


There are eight lessons as follows:

1.  Introduction to Vegetable Growing

Understand the planning processes required in setting up a farming enterprise. Select appropriate crops.

2.  Cultural Practices for Vegetables

Explain general cultural practices used for vegetable production.

3.  Pest, Disease & Weed Control

Explain the management of potential problems, including pests, diseases, weeds, and environmental disorders in vegetable production.

4.  Hydroponic & Greenhouse Growing

Explain alternative cultural techniques, including greenhouse and hydroponic production, for vegetables.

5.  Growing Selected Vegetable Varieties

Determine specific cultural practices for selected vegetable varieties.

6.  Irrigation

To develop understanding of how efficiently manage the availability of water to vegetable crops in order to achieve optimum growth.

7.  Harvest & Post-Harvest

Determine the harvesting, and post-harvest treatment of different vegetables.

8.  Marketing Vegetables

Develop marketing strategies for different vegetables.


On successful completion of the course you should be able to do the following:

  • Select appropriate vegetable varieties for different situations.
  • Explain general cultural practices used for vegetable production.
  • Explain the management of potential problems, including pests, diseases, weeds, and environmental disorders, in vegetable production.
  • Explain alternative cultural techniques, including greenhouse and hydroponic production, for vegetables.
  • Determine specific cultural practices for selected vegetable varieties.
  • Determine the harvesting, and post-harvest treatment of different vegetables.
  • Develop marketing strategies for different vegetables.

Here are just some of the things you may be doing:

  • Compile a resource file of sources of information regarding vegetable varieties.
  • Describe the classification of different vegetables into major groups.
  • Prepare a collection of plant reviews of different vegetable varieties.
  • Determine three appropriate cultivars from each of different species of vegetables to be grown on a specified site.
  • Prepare a planting schedule of vegetable varieties, to be planted over a twelve month period, in your locality.
  • Differentiate between soil management practices for different vegetable varieties.
  • Explain the establishment of vegetables by seed.
  • Explain how to establish three different vegetables from seedlings.
  • Prepare a table or chart showing the planting distances, and planting depth of seed for different vegetable varieties.
  • Describe the application of pruning techniques to the production of specified vegetables.
  • Prepare a crop schedule (ie. production timetable) for a specified vegetable crop.
  • Prepare a pressed weed collection of different weeds.
  • Differentiate between different specific techniques for weed control in vegetable crops, including different chemical and different non-chemical methods.
  • Determine pest and disease problems common to different specified types of vegetables.
  • Identify appropriate control methods for the pest and disease problems you determined (above).
  • Develop pest and disease control programs, for the lifespans of different vegetables.
  • Determine the environmental disorders occurring with vegetable crops inspected by you.
  • Explain the methods that can be used to prevent and/or overcome different environmental disorders affecting vegetables.
  • Determine the potential benefits of greenhouse vegetable production in a specified locality.
  • Differentiate between the characteristics of different types of greenhouses.
  • Compare vegetable growing applications for different environmental control mechanisms used in greenhouses, including:
    • Different types of heaters
    • Shading
    • Lighting
    • Different types of coolers
    • Vents
    • Fans
  • Describe how a specified commercial vegetable crop might be grown in a greenhouse visited by you.
  • Compare vegetable growing applications for the major types of hydroponic systems
    • Open and closed systems
    • Aggregate
    • Water
    • Aeroponic culture
  • Determine reasons for choosing to grow vegetables in hydroponics rather than in the open ground.
  • Explain how a specified vegetable can be grown in an hydroponic system.
  • Determine two commercially viable varieties suited to growing in a specified locality, from each of the following different types of vegetables:
    • Brassicas
    • Cucurbits
    • Tomatoes
    • Lettuce
    • Onions
    • Potatoes
    • Legumes
  • Determine specific cultural requirements for growing each of the vegetable varieties selected (above) on a specified site.
  • Describe the culture of less commonly grown vegetables chosen by you.
  • Produce a log book, recording all work undertaken to grow a crop of different vegetable varieties, suited to your locality.
  • Describe different harvesting methods, including both manual and mechanical techniques, used in vegetable production, for specified vegetables.
  • Identify the appropriate stage of growth at which different types of vegetables should be harvested.
  • Evaluate commonly used harvesting techniques of vegetables.
  • Evaluate commonly used post-harvest treatments of vegetables.
  • Determine post-harvest treatments to slow the deterioration of different specified vegetables.
  • Develop guidelines for post harvest handling, during storage, transportation and marketing, of a specified vegetable variety.
  • Analyse vegetable marketing systems in your locality.
  • Explain the importance of produce standards to marketing in different vegetable marketing systems.
  • Explain the impact of quarantine regulations on transport of different types of vegetables, in your locality.
  • Explain an appropriate procedure for packaging a specified vegetable for long distance transport.
  • Develop marketing strategies for different specified vegetables.


Learning to Grow Vegetables Commercially

Commercial growing is obviously different in that you are growing on a much larger scale; but there are other differences too. Things that you might tolerate when growing vegetables at home, may result in financial failure in a commercial situation. For any commercial operation to be successful, the quality and quantity of produce must be optimised and the timing and cost of production must be well managed; for example:

  • Crops that take too ling to produce will cost you money.
  • Crops that are damaged too much by pests or diseases may not bring as high a price at market.
  • Crop losses due to pest and disease can reduce the quantity that is sold, hence profitability
  • The way you harvest crops and howq you treat them after picking can also impact on profit

General Guidelines to Control Pest and Disease Problems

  1. Monitor your crops: weekly inspections for symptoms of pests and diseases, means you can control problems through early intervention.
  2. Ensure plants are growing in fertile, well drained soil, with constant, but not excessive, moisture in the soil. Do not work wet soils as this will damage soil structure.
  3. Hygiene: destroy infected plants (burning works. If you compost them, don’t use the compost on related plant species that share similar pests). If an infestation is severe or widespread throughout the crop, then it will be best to remove and destroy the crop immediately. Don’t work plants in wet conditions – bacterial leaf spot can be spread through water droplets and also through contact as you work from one plant to the next.
  4. Use resistant varieties (check plant breeder and seed supplier information against any cultivars you are considering growing).
  5. Buy seed from a reputable supplier; make sure that the seed has been tested for certain diseases e.g. bacterial spot, or treat seed with hot water (eg. with capsicum, 50°C for 30 minutes) to destroy this pathogen.
  6. Provide the right amount of fertiliser during the growing season – plants with reduced access to the right amount of nitrogen tend to be prone to diseases.
  7. Do not allow plants to self-sow; if they have, remove all seedlings that are self-sown to prevent spread and protect next year’s plantings.
  8. Control weeds: weeds can harbour pests and diseases and transfer then to the crop -especially those in the same plant family.
  9. Practice crop rotation: 3 years is a typical crop rotation; this means it is less likely that you will build-up a disease and pest problem. Make sure that you do not grow plants from the same family in that position (or together). eg. capsicums potatoes, eggplant (aubergine) and tomatoes are all in the same plant family. Plant tall plants such as corn between the rotation beds, so new beds are separated from the previous year’s plantings by a tall crop.
  10. Disinfect all equipment used after use – especially if you have used it to remove an infected crop. You don’t want to spread it to other areas that may be clean.
  11. Refer to advice from any pesticide suppliers for the latest recommendations. The natural and chemical controls that are both recommended and available are different in different places; and also keep changing the method you use. The only real way of getting the best and most up to date advice on products to use, is to consult people who supply products. Some problems may also be addressed using biological control.






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Learn more about commercial vegetable production. 

Improve your crops, your business and your job prospects.  
You can study at your own pace and in your own time - Earn while you learn more about production methods for vegetables.   All with the support of highly qualified and experienced, friendly tutors.

Develop skills and knowledge required for commercial vegetable production, including a variety of production methods. This is a very sound 100 hour foundation course in general vegetable production. Note: Do not undertake Commercial Organic Vegetable Growing as well as this. The two courses do overlap)

Meet some of our academics

Maggi BrownMaggi 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 across the UK for more than three decades. Some of Maggi's qualifications include RHS Cert. Hort. Cert. Ed. Member RHS Life Member Garden Organic (HDRA) .
Diana Cole Horticulturist, Permaculturist, Landscaper, Environmentalist. Holds a Diploma in Horticulture, degree in geography, permaculture certificate and various other qualifications. Between 1985 and 94, Diana was a task leader with the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers. Since 2001 she has been chairperson of the Friends of Mellor Park (with Stockport MDC). From 2005 she has worked exclusively in horticulture as proprietor of her own garden design and consultancy business in and around Derbyshire; and at the same time as part time manager of a small garden centre. Diana has been an enthusiastic and very knowledgeable tutor with ACS since 2008.
Yvonne Sharpe Started gardening in 1966, studied a series of horticulture qualifications throughout the 1980's and 90's, culminating in an RHS Master of Horticulture. Between 89 and 1994, she worked teaching in horticultural therapy. Founded the West Herts Garden Association in 1990 and exhibited at Chelsea Flower Show in 1991. In 1994, Yvonne joined the staff at Oaklands College, and between 1996 and 2000 was coordinator for all Amenity Horticulture courses at that college. Since leaving Oakland she has been active as a horticultural consultant, retail garden centre proprietor and sessional lecturer (across many colleges in southern England). In 2000, she also completed a Diploma in Management.
Gavin Cole Landscaper, Horticulturist, Psychologist, Builder, Garden Writer. Studied construction and surveying at Bristol Polytec, B.Sc. at University of Northumbria (1988) and Psychology in Australia. He completed a Cert.Garden Design in 95. In the mid 1990's he worked as Landscape Manager and Garden Designer for the Chelsea Gardener in London and in 97 commenced his own business as a garden designer; operating at first in London, then in Australia. He has worked for ACS as a tutor, course counsellor and writer since 2000, alongside his own freelance work as a horticultural consultant and writer. Gavin has co authored many books and written hundreds of articles published in gardening magazines including Home Grown, Your Backyard and Garden Guide.

Check out our eBooks

Capsicums and ChillisCultivars, growing at home or commercially, how to use them, recipes for different cultures, lots of photos.
HerbsLearn to identify and grow dozens of commonly grown herbs. Explore how to use them. Herbs have a rich history dating back centuries. Used by monks, apothecaries and ‘witches’ in the past, herbs are undergoing a revival in interest. They are easy to grow, scented, culinary and medicinal plants. In a formal herb garden or peppered throughout the garden, herbs rarely fail! Find out how they are used as medicines, for cooking, perfumes and more.
Fruit, Vegetables and HerbsThe Fruit, Vegetables and Herbs ebook is ideal for students, professionals and home gardening enthusiasts alike. Fruit, Vegetable and Herbs provides an overview in techniques to produce food in the garden. Topics covered within this course include 1/ Food from the garden, 2/ Deciding what to grow, 3/ Successful growing, 4/ Fruits, 4-1/ Deciduous fruit trees, 4-2/ Citrus fruits, 4-3/ Tropical fruits, 4-4/ Berries, 4-5/ Nuts, 4-6/ Vine crops, 4-7/ Using produce, 5/ Vegetables, 6/ Mushrooms, 7/ Special growing techniques
Plant Pests & DiseasesAre you one of those people that kill every plant you touch? Perhaps it's not you. Perhaps it's a pest or disease. A little bit of reading might just turn your garden into an oasis. Learn how to identify pests and diseases and bring the spring back into your plant...visit the bookshop to find out more...