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COMMERCIAL ORGANIC VEGETABLE GROWING VHT241

Course CodeVHT241
Fee CodeS3
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment
Organic Vegetable Production Course

Organic growing of plants works with nature, rather than against it. It recognises the fact that nature is complex and accordingly endeavours to understand interactions between plants, animals and insects. It therefore encourages the gardener for example to learn about the life-cycle of pests and to use this knowledge to control them.
 

Lesson Structure

There are 12 lessons in this course:

  1. Introduction
    • Organic Growing and it's definitions
    • Influential people in the organic movement
    • Different ways to grow -permaculture, biodynamics, etc.
    • Organic certification
    • Transition to organic production
    • Management Plan
    • Industry awareness
    • Resources and Networking
    • Understanding Plant Names
  2. Cultivation and Planting
    • Cultivation methods
    • Crop rotation
    • Green manures
    • No dig growing
    • Planting
    • Sowing vegetable seed outside
    • Germinating indoors
    • Transplanting seedlings
    • Crowns, offsets, tubers
    • Crop scheduling
    • Tillage, Ripping, Harrowing, Dis ploughing, etc
    • Tractors
  3. Soils and Nutrition
    • Physical soil properties -profile, texture, etc
    • Chemical properties -pH, cation exchange capacity, buffering etc.
    • Soil water, air, temperature
    • Humus and Organic matter
    • Nutrient elements
    • Organic Fertilizers
    • Animal manure
    • Liquid feeds in an organic system
    • Rock dusts
    • Diagnosing nutritional problems
  4. Soil Management
    • Importance of soil
    • Cultivation techniques
    • Cover crops
    • Green manures
    • Nitrogen fixation
    • Rhizobium bacteria
    • Mycorrhizae
    • Composting
    • Hot heaps vs cold
  5. Review of Major Vegetable Varieties
    • Getting the best from an organic vegetable plot
    • Vegetable Directory -Beans, Beetroot, Broccoli, Sprouts, Cabbacge, Capsicum, Carrot, Cauliflower, Corn, Celery, Eggplant. Lettuce, Onion, Pak Choi, Parsnip, Pea, Potato, Pumpkin, Marrow, Squash, Radish, Spinich Turnip
    • Transplanting Guide
  6. Pests and Disease
    • Integrated Pest Management
    • Allowable Inputs
    • Understanding Pest and Disease
    • Understanding Other Plant Problems
    • Lifecycles
    • Review of common problems
    • Companion Planting
  7. Seed
    • Organic seed
    • Seed production -preventing cross pollination
    • Choosing seed plants for vegetable crops
    • Collecting seeds
    • Cleaning and storing seed
    • Seed germination
  8. Greenhouse Growing
    • Types of greenhouses
    • Framing and covering materials
    • What greenhouse is appropriate
    • Siting a greenhouse
    • Benching
    • Greenhouse hygiene
    • Problems with greenhouses
    • Other structures -cold frames, shade houses
    • Environmental controls
    • Heating, Cooling
    • Controlling light
    • Growing media
    • Fertigation in organic systems
    • Carbon dioxide enrichment
    • Irrigation Methods
    • Crops Directory -Tomatoes, Cucumber, Melons, Zucchini
  9. Lesser Grown Varieties and Herbs
    • Growing herbs
    • Review of many culinary herbs-Alliums, Corriander, Mints, Basil, Oregano, Rosemary, Pasley, Savory, Thyme, etc.
    • Review of lesser grown vegetables -Amaranth, Artichoke, Asparagus, Cassava, Chicory, Dandelion, Garlic, Endive, Ginger, Horseradish, Chicory, Mint, Leek, Okra, Pigface, Rhubarb, Sweet Potato, Warrigul Greens, Taro, Yams, etc
  10. Irrigation
    • Irrigation objectives and feasibility
    • Soil and water
    • Understanding classes of soil moisture
    • Soil and transpiration
    • Field capacity
    • Permenant Wilting point
    • Tensiometers
    • When to irrigate
    • Scheduling irrigation
    • When to irrigate
    • Cyclic watering
    • Pulse watering
    • Plant root depth
    • Irrigation type -flood, sprinkler, ytickle etc.
    • Portable, permenant or travelling sprinklers
    • Sprinklet spacings
  11. Mulching and Weeds
    • Understanding mulch
    • Types of mulch materials
    • Rules for using mulch
    • Living mulch
    • Weed Management
    • Preventing weeds
  12. Harvesting and Marketing
    • Harvesting techniques
    • PostHarvest quality considerations
    • Harvesting hints
    • Post harvest treatment of vegetables -field processing
    • Cooling
    • Quality standards
    • Monitoring and reviewing
    • Marketing
    • Business capabilities
    • Market research
    • Target marketing
    • Understanging economics

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

  • Discuss general horticulture and plant taxonomy principles
  • Describe a range of cultivation and planting techniques
  • Explain soil properties, and their relationship to organic plant production
  • Diagnose basic soil nutrient deficiencies
  • Discuss major and minor commercial vegetable varieties
  • Describe a variety of pest and disease management principles
  • Explain the use of seed in commercial organic agriculture, including storage
    • viability
    • germination
    • genetic purity
    • hybridisation
  • Discuss the principles of greenhouse growing
  • Describe a variety of irrigation methods suitable for organic vegetable production
  • Explain organic weed control methods
  • Explain issues relating to harvesting and marketing of vegetables

What You Will Do

  • Here are just some of the things you will be doing:
  • Compile reference lists of vegetable varieties, industry contacts, organic fertilisers and pest control products, etc.
  • Evaluate the merits and deficiencies of agricultural equipment and products
  • Build a no-dig garden and monitor its progress
  • Classify soils
  • Evaluate the role of soil organisms
  • Identify nutrient deficiencies such as nitrogen deficiency
  • Build composts
  • Evaluate seed sources and plant varieties
  • Perform sowing and germination trials
  • Evaluate the merits and deficiencies of greenhouse growing
  • Evaluate the principles of irrigation
  • Perform mulching trials
  • Evaluate pricing, packaging and presentation of retail vegetables

What is Organic Growing?

Organic gardening and farming has been given a variety of names over the years - biological farming, sustainable agriculture, alternative agriculture, to name a few. Definitions of what is and isn't 'organic' are also extremely varied. Some of the most important features of organic production, as recognised by the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), include:

• Promoting existing biological cycles, from micro-organisms in the soil, to the plants and animals living on the soil.
• Maintaining the environmental resources locally, using them carefully and efficiently and re-using materials as much as possible.
• Not relying heavily on external resources on a continuous basis.
• Minimising any pollution both on-site and leaving the site.
• Maintaining the genetic diversity of the area.

 Practices which are typical for organic systems are composting, intercropping, crop rotation, fallowing, mechanical, hand weeding or heat-based weed control, green manure crops and the use of legumes to increase soil fertility. Pests and diseases are tackled with environmentally acceptable, sprays that have little environmental impact and biological controls (eg. predatory mites).
 
Organic gardeners should avoid the use of inorganic (soluble) fertilisers, super-phosphate for example should not be used because it contains sulphuric acid, rock phosphate however is the acceptable alternative. Synthetic chemical herbicides, growth hormones and pesticides should also be avoided. 

One of the foundations of organic gardening and farming, linking many other principles together, is composting. By combining different materials, balancing carbon and nitrogen levels, coarse and fine ingredients, bacteria and worms act to break down the waste products. Composting produces a valuable fertiliser that can be returned to improve the soil. Natural biological cycles are promoted, 'wastes' are re-used and the need for external supplies of fertiliser are reduced or cut altogether.

What Do You Learn?

On successful completion of the course you should be able to do the following:
 
Understanding of general horticulture and plant taxonomy principles
 
Understanding of a range of cultivation and planting techniques
 
Understanding of soil properties, and their relationship to organic plant production
 
Ability to diagnose basic soil nutrient deficiencies
 
Knowledge of major and minor commercial vegetable varieties
 
Knowledge of a variety of pest and disease management principles
 
Understanding of the use of seed in commercial organic agriculture, including: storage viability germination genetic purity hybridisation
 
Knowledge of the principles of greenhouse growing
 
Knowledge of a variety of irrigation methods suitable for organic vegetable production
 
Knowledge of organic weed control methods
 
Knowledge of issues relating to harvesting and marketing of vegetables

Meet some of our academics

Bob James Bob has over 50 years of experience in horticulture across both production sectors (Crops and nursery) and amenity sectors of the industry. He holds a Diploma in Agriculture and Degree in Horticulture from the University of Queensland; as well as a Masters Degree in Environmental Science. He has worked a Grounds Manager at a major university; and a manager in a municipal parks department. Over recent years he has been helping younger horticulturists as a writer, teacher and consultant; and in that capacity, brings a diverse and unique set of experiences to benefit our students.
Rosemary Davies Rosemary trained in Horticulture at Melbourne Universities Burnley campus; studying all aspects of horticulture -vegetable and fruit production, landscaping, amenity, turf, aboriculture and the horticultural sciences. Initially she worked with the Department of Agriculture in Victoria providing advice to the public. Over the years she has taught horticulture students, worked on radio with ABC radio (clocking up over 24 years as a presenter of garden talkback programs, initially the only woman presenter on gardening in Victoria) and she simultaneously developed a career as a writer. She then studied Education and Training, teaching TAFE apprentices and developing curriculum for TAFE, before taking up an offer as a full time columnist with the Herald and Weekly Times and its magazine department after a number of years as columnist with the Age. She has worked for a number of companies in writing and publications, PR community education and management and has led several tours to Europe. In 1999 Rosemary was BPW Bendigo Business Woman of the Year and is one of the founders and the Patron, of the Friends of the Bendigo Botanic gardens. She has completed her 6th book this year and is working on concepts for several others. Rosemary has a B Ed, BSc Hort, Dip Advertising & Marketing
John Mason 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 editor for 4 different gardening magazines. John has been recognised by his peers being made a fellow of the Institute of Horticulture in the UK, as well as by the Australian Institute of Horticulture.
Maggi BrownMaggi is the classic UK "plantswoman". She can identify thousands of plants, and maintains her own homes and gardens in the Cotswolds (England), and near Beziers (in Southern France). Maggi is regarded as a leading organics expert across the UK, having worked for 20 years as Education Officer at the "Garden Organic" (formerly HDRA). Some of Maggi's qualifications include RHS Cert. Hort. Cert. Ed. Member RHS, Life Member Garden Organic (HDRA) .


Check out our eBooks

Organic GardeningFor decades farmers have relied upon chemicals to control pests and diseases in order to produce saleable crops. In the ornamental, vegetable and fruit gardens reliance on chemical controls has also been the mainstay for many gardeners.
HerbsHerbs are fascinating plants, mystical and romantic. They 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.
WeedsA good cross section of of common weeds are illustrated and reviewed. These are plants that occur in many parts of the world, and some are not always weeds.
Profitable FarmingDiscover new ways to make money from your farm and broaden your perspective on the farming industry. A few things in life are certain; change is inevitable and people need to eat. Learn to embrace change as an opportunity and improve your ability to forge a sustainable career in farming.