HOME FRUIT GROWING

Course CodeAHT104
Fee CodeS1
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

Learn to Grow Fruit at Home

It is a wonderful, healthy, and satisfying experience, to be able to pick and eat fruit from your own garden. This course aims to expand your capacity to do just that!

Learn how to:

  • Grow fresh fruit, berries and nuts efficiently and economically.
  • Choose the best fruits for your situation.
  • Raise soil fertility.
  • Control pests and diseases naturally without using dangerous chemicals.

Both cool and warm climate fruits are covered, and throughout the course you are given the option to focus your study on the types of fruits you are most interested in.

Lesson Structure

There are 6 lessons in this course:

  1. Introduction
  2. Soils, site preparation & planning
  3. General Cultural Practices
  4. Growing Tree Fruits
  5. Growing Nuts & Vines
  6. Berry Growing

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.

What You Will Do

  • Select part of a home garden where the owner would like to grow fruit. Consider the good and bad points about the site and the suitability of different types of fruits to the situation.
  • Take a sample of soil from an area you might consider growing fruit in. Using the method set out in the gardening manual provided with the course, name the soil.
  • Look at the buds on the wood of three different species of fruit. Draw what you see, and label where you think the buds are fruit buds, and where you think they are vegetative buds.
  • Observe the way in which fruit trees are trained or pruned in your locality.
  • Visit a local store, nursery or irrigation shop and look at drip and micro irrigation equipment which is for sale. Take note of the various components of these systems, how they fit together and how they work.
  • Identify pests and diseases in a garden which you have visited.
  • Select different fruits from those you have read about which are grown in your area. For each one, research which varieties of that fruit are commonly grown, and why they are grown.
  • Plan the development of a berry growing area for a backyard. Contact companies, visit nurseries and check the availability, quality and prices of berry plants you would like to grow on your site (or proposed site). Work with an imaginary site if you do not have a real life situation to deal with.
  • Contact an Agriculture office or service (in person or over the internet), to find information you can, within reason (eg: leaflets, booklets, details about advisory services etc) which relate to fruit growing.

HOW THEN DO YOU DECIDE WHAT TO GROW? 

It is difficult to go wrong provided you do the following:

  • You must have or develop the skills required.
  • Check and be sure that you can grow each particular crop cheaper than what you might buy the product for. BEWARE, even though it may seem ridiculous, it is often possible to buy something for less than it might cost you to grow it.
  • Consider the need of alternative crops under consideration and select ones you need most or use most.
  • Consider the crop's keeping quality. Crops which keep for short periods only (e.g. Peaches) are more of a risk than ones which keep well (e.g. almonds).
  • Consider the relationship between cost outlay & return. Some crops require large capital outlay before any return can be obtained (e.g. walnuts - property and labour etc. can be tied up for up to 10 years before reasonable crops start to be obtained from the trees).
  • How suitable is that crop to the soil & climate of your area.
  • Consider your own experience & technical ability in relation to the ease of production of the particular crop being considered. Some crops are very difficult to grow; others are easy. If you are inexperienced, start with the easy ones.
  • Consider the time the crop takes to mature and length of production of the particular crop considered (e.g. paw paws can be harvested 6-9 months after planting, but apples take several years).
  • What are your existing resources (e.g. manpower, tools, area available, money etc) and what crops are these resources suited to.

 

DECIDING WHAT CITRUS TO GROW

You can grow citrus in any part of Australia; but what you grow and how you grow it will vary from place to place.

CLIMATIC NEEDS

  • Heat is a prerequisite for ripening most citrus fruits. In Australia, there is sufficient heat in most places at some time of the year to ripen at least some types of citrus.
  • Wind reduces growth, particularly when the soil is dry.
  • All citrus are sensitive to frost; but some more than others.
  • Most prefer a mild temperate climate with little or no frost.
  • Drainage must be good. They don’t like to be waterlogged at all. Plant on a mound if necessary to increase drainage.
  • Light is important. A little shade is OK, but health and cropping are affected by medium to heavy shade.

 

WHAT CITRUS TO GROW WHERE

Colder Sites (e.g. Southern Victoria & Tasmania)

Cumquat is the hardiest. Others for these areas include Mandarin, Meyer Lemon and Seville Orange. Other lemons are grown in Melbourne but can be damaged by frost if you are not careful. These varieties are the most cold-hardy.

Milder Sites (e.g. protected positions in Melbourne, otherwise warmer climates)

Grapefruit, Sweet Orange and Pumelo. These are moderately frost sensitive.

Warmer Sites (e.g. Coastal Queensland)

Limes, citrons and some lemons. These are very susceptible to frost.

Problems to Avoid:

  • Citrus don’t like their roots being disturbed, so don’t dig around them
  • Many grow well as a tub plant or topiary. You can prune the top growth freely into any desired shape or size. (Pruning is not essential though.)
  • They develop collar rot easily if the base of the trunk is damaged or covered by mulch or soil.
  • They commonly suffer iron deficiency. Iron deficiency shows in the tip growths becoming yellow rather than pale green. Spread some rusty nails around the base, or feed with Iron Chelates to avoid this.

DO I REALLY NEED A GRAFTED TREE?
Grafted trees are more expensive than cutting grown one: but they have many advantages, generally being more vigorous and resistant to a variety of problems. You are advised to pay the extra and reap the benefits.

WASHINGTON NAVEL ORANGE
Very popular variety. Ripens in winter, slightly rough skin, easy to peel; seedless flesh.

VALENCIA ORANGE
Produces fruit in summer through autumn, as late as April. Normally smooth skin, sweet flesh but contains seeds. Tends to bear heavy one year, and light the next.

SEVILLE ORANGE
Flesh is not so sweet, more commonly used for making marmalade.

CUMQUAT
A small fruit, bitter to eat, but useful in preserves or candied. It flowers later than other citrus and grows better in colder climates than many other citrus.

LISBON LEMON
Better adapted to cooler localities than Eureka, but only has a small summer crop. Has a smoother skin than Eureka, but trees are very thorny when mature.

EUREKA
Does not have thorns and fruit are almost seedless. Bears fruit most of the year but skin is rough. Fruit tastes almost identical to Eureka. Needs a mild climate; grows better in coastal areas or the sub tropics.

MEYER LEMON
Can taste like a cross between a lemon and orange; less acidic than other lemons. Has one crop a year which ripens early, but will hold on the tree for months until you want to pick it.

MANDARINS
There are several varieties, ripening late autumn through to early spring. Fruit tastes best when grown in areas with warm days over winter – without sufficient warmth over winter, taste is simply not as good. Mandarins tolerate heat well and are ideal in northern or inland Australia.

TANGELOS
While they will grow in most mild climates, they tend to be more suited to inland than coastal areas. Depending on the variety, fruit matures winter or spring.

MARSH SEEDLESS GRAPEFRUIT
Almost seedless fruit maturing mid to late autumn.

WHEENEY GRAPEFRUIT
A seedling that originated at Kurrajong in New South Wales.  It is a tall, vigorous tree, fruits extremely heavy one year and light the next.(Heavy crops should be thinned while fruit are small.)

LIME
Grow best in tropics and sub tropics. May grow in frost-free areas of temperate zones. Light frosts of -2 degrees C will cause extensive damage.
West Indian Lime can be thorny, grown mostly in the tropics. Let the fruit fall (it is only mature when it falls) and harvest from the ground.
Tahitian Limes are a little more cold tolerant than West Indian Limes. They can even been grown successfully in Victoria in a frost-free position (but the lifespan is shorter).

 

 

 


Find Out More about Fruit Growing -Talk with one of our Horticulturists.
 

 

 
Explore the potential for growing fruit; and what you can learn through this course.
 
 
 
 
 
 

Meet some of our academics

Adriana Fraser 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 certificate in horticulture and a few years later, completed a Advanced Diploma in Horticulture amongst other qualifications. Adriana has worked across a broad spectrum of the horticulture industry and has developed a strong network of contacts in horticulture around Australia and beyond. She has written and contributed to many books and magazine articles. She has a passion for plant knowledge and sustainability and a natural understanding of how people learn about horticulture and has taught in various institutions and organistions as well as ACS. Adriana has been a tutor with ACS since the mid 90's and based on the feedback from past students has been an overwhelming success in helping people develop their skills and further careers in horticulture.
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.
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


Check out our eBooks

CitrusLearn to grow and use an amazing variety of different types of citrus
Commercial HydroponicsLearn how to grow vegetables, fruit, cut flowers, herbs and other plants hydroponically. This classic is now re-published with new images, a new layout and revised text. A must have resource for anyone who wants to grow hydroponically.
Food PreservingThe Food Preserving ebook covers everything you need to know on preserving a wide range of food. Make the most of your bumper fruit and vegetable crop and learn to preserve them to eat at a later time in the year.
Fruit, Vegetables and HerbsHome grown produce somehow has a special quality. Some say it tastes better, others believe it is just healthier. And there is no doubt it is cheaper! 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.

 

 

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