Grow fresh fruit, berries and nuts efficiently and economically. Learn how to raise soil fertility, choose the best fruits for your situation, and grow them in a way which controls pests and diseases without using dangerous chemicals. Both cool and warm climate fruits are covered, and throughout the course you are given the option to concentrate your study on the types of fruits which are of more interest to you.
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.

You, like every other student in this course, will have your own very specific desires and needs when embarking upon this course. This course has lots of flexibility; so you can focus on things relevant to your own situation and needs. If you choose toe use of the school's many support services these can provide you with a range of varied learning experiences according to your own specific needs.


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 (eg: Peaches) are more of a risk than ones which keep well (eg: almonds).
  • Consider the relationship between cost outlay & return. Some crops require large capital outlay before any return can be obtained (eg: 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 (eg: paw paws can be harvested 6-9 months after plantiung, but apples take several years).
  • What are your existing resources (eg: Manpower, tools, area available, money etc) and what crops are these resources suited to.

Course Structure
There are 6 lessons as follows:
  1. Introduction
  2. Soils, site preparation & planning
  3. General Cultural Practices
  4. Tree Fruits
  5. Nuts & Vines
  6. Berries

Examples of what you may do in this course
  • 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.

Duration: up to 100 hours

Fruit Growing Tips:    An Article from one of our Students:


ACS Student went to India to study agriculture and wrote the following.  During her stay she lived on a farm near Jodhpur on the fringes of the Thar Desert in Rajasthan. This is her account of how she overcame a number of obstacles in order to grow fruit in the desert.

The 90 acre farm is divided among six brothers and their families; altogether the farm supports about 40 people. Six years ago they introduced irrigation so they now grow lush fields of wheat, mustard, chillies, peanuts, garlic and onions, as well as grass and herbs to feed to their cows, goats, buffaloes and camels. As a result, the people have almost everything they need and lead a prosperous and peaceful existence. But they don’t have fruit and everyone, from old people to young babies, is vitamin deficient. The children especially were so desperate for fruit that one little girl (who usually has excellent manners) actually ransacked my room looking for oranges she thought I had hidden.

I decided to plant a few fruit trees and asked each family member what they would like. Lemons were popular and so were dates.

It was easy to buy plants in Jodhpur and the cost, compared to the cost of plants in Australia, was very low. I bought a mulberry, guava, mandarin and pomegranate, a pair of grape vines, and five date palm suckers. Later I bought thirty lemon trees to cultivate as a cash crop, eighteen of which ended up in the ground. The rest were either filched or begged by members of the extended family, who were all very keen to grow a lemon tree of their own. I also happened to have two date seedlings which had sprouted from seeds brought from Australia.

The dwellings on this farm are traditional Indian desert houses, that is, round thatched huts of mud or stone arranged around a walled courtyard. There is no plumbing in the houses so the women carry water in pots from the well for cooking and washing and the waste water is simply thrown on the ground where it sinks away into the sand. I planted the pomegranate next to a flat rock which was sometimes used for washing clothes. I thought the water from washing might run into the ground and help the tree. The mulberry tree was planted in a damp area near the women’s baths.

One of the main problems with planting trees in Rajasthan is the terrible heat in summer, combined with sandstorms which are so vicious that plants with soft leaves end up being shredded. In order to protect them from damage I planted an orange tree next to the well and the guava not far away in the shade of a large castor oil tree. Oil trees only live three years but is it hoped that it will protect the small guava until it can fend for itself.

Date palms are extremely hardy, so the five suckers were placed in a line along the path leading between two houses. This was quite an important position strategically and if they grow their tall elegance and beauty will be a focal point for the entire farm. The two date seedlings were placed near my sun-blasted hut in the hope they will eventually provide shade for an outdoor sitting area.

The two grape vines were planted into pots as there was a fear that if they were put in the ground the roots would be eaten by termites. Two large clay water pots (at the local price of $1 each) were purchased and potted into. However as pot culture requires more care and attention, I have fears that these plants may not survive.

Lemons were placed near the back fence where they receive regular irrigation along with the field crops and where, once they begin bearing fruit, they can be fenced and protected from fruit-stealing villagers.

To overcome low air humidity and excessively well drained soils, I devised a method of digging quite deep holes and putting cow and camel manure in the bottom then planting the tree and filling the hole with more manure mixed with sand. I hoped that the manure would absorb and retain water so that the roots of the trees could extract it in their own time.
This method also helps in putting organic matter into the soil.

As with techniques used in Australia, I fashioned the soil into a saucer shape with a deep rim to hold plenty of water and filled the saucer with a thick layer of camel dung as mulch.

As a final touch a heap of prickly sticks were dragged off the woodpile, cut down to size and tied around the young trees to keep off the goats, glaring sun and drying wind.

This year I have moved further into the desert, near the Pakistan border, and am planting trees and growing vegetables for a family of semi-nomadic sheep and goat herders. These people realize the native vegetation on their range is being overgrazed to a point where it will soon not support them. So, although they have no previous experience of gardening they are willing to learn and together we are trying to get a few crops growing.