Learn to grow different fruits in a home garden - apples, pears, stone fruits, citrus, berries, nuts and vine fruits.

Course Code: AHT104
Fee Code: S1
Duration (approx) Duration (approx) 100 hours
Qualification Statement of Attainment
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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
    • An overview of the different types of fruits & nuts:
    • Citrus
    • Berry Fruits
    • Nuts
    • Vines
    • Pome Fruits
    • Stone Fruits
  2. Soils, site preparation & planning.
    • Understanding soil nutrition
    • Fertilising fruit & nut plants
    • Managing soil for your fruit & nut plants
  3. General Cultural Practices
    • Learning about fruit trees to produce more & better fruit
    • Identifying pests and diseases
    • Watering requirements
    • Pruning
  4. Tree Fruits
    • Problem solving issues with fruit trees
    • Fruit trees ideal for your area
  5. Nuts and Vines
    • How to grow in selected areas
    • Description of different nut trees and various vines
  6. Berries
    • Ideal areas for growing berries
    • Timeline for growing berries
    • Conditions for growing berries

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.


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.



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


  • 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.



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.

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Almost seedless fruit maturing mid to late autumn.

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.)

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).

Benefits of Studying This Course

  • Become proficient in growing a range of fruits, nuts, and berries.
  • Learn in different ways – online study, practical tasks, watching video.
  • Be guided by professional tutors on your learning journey.
  • Feel confident that what you learn is current best practice.
  • Become more self-sufficient and spend less on groceries.
  • Lead a healthier lifestyle.

Taking Things Further

Growing fruit at home doesn’t have to stop with growing your own produce. It can be the beginning of a new enterprise or a new career.

  • Become a market gardener
  • Sell at local farmers markets
  • Specialise in unusual or out of season produce
  • Do some follow-up study
  • Join a fruit-growing society
  • Work in horticulture – orchards, plantations, fruit farms    
Member of the Future Farmers Network

Member of the International Herb Association since 1988

UK Register of Learning Providers, UK PRN10000112

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 a silver sponsor of the AIH. The principal, John Mason, is a fellow. ACS certificate students are offered a free membership for this leading professional body.Provider.

Member of the Permaculture Association

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

Rosemary Davies (Horticulturist)

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 Depart

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

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