Organic Vegetable Production



To Enroll – Start Here

Instructor: Renee Ciulla Bio        Contact:

No textbook is required for this course

Course Overview and Objectives

By the end of this course, students will understand that successful organic vegetable production relies on more than producing vegetables; it requires managing money, people, marketing and natural resources effectively. The lessons and reading material provide an overview of cultural practices for vegetables, pest, disease and weed control, greenhouse production and construction, irrigation practices, as well as harvesting, storing and marketing techniques. Furthermore, three weeks are devoted to researching specifics related to growing common vegetables. At the end of the course, students reach out to farms of their choice to learn first-hand about some of the issues faced and possible solutions. The final is either a hands-on project such as building a compost bin, or a research paper based on a topic reviewed during the semester (see details below under Week 13). Throughout the semester students are encouraged to think about their personal interests and goals within organic vegetable production and pursue this during the final two weeks.


Course Structure

At the beginning of every week students will be provided with a weekly list of all the work to be completed during the week of class. There will be Discussion questions which students will post responses to in the Discussion Forum section of Blackboard. These responses are due by 7pm on the Thursday of that module’s week. To receive full Discussion credit for the week, students are also required to comment on at least on peer’s post by Sunday at 7pm. Required readings are listed with weekly required Homework questions which are due at 7pm on Sunday of each week. The Final Project will be determined by the student’s personal interests and from the vast array of topics covered throughout the semester. Either a hands-on project accompanied by a report, or a research paper can be chosen (see Week 13 for details).


  • Discussion Assignments/Participation: 40%
  • Homework Assignments: 40%
  • Final Project: 20%

Outline of Content

Week One
The Historical and Current Context of “Organic”
What is organic? In comparison, what’s conventional production?
Examples of key players
Overview/differences of agroecology principles, biodynamic agriculture and permaculture
Organic certification

Week Two
Vegetable Families
Soil Organic Matter
Plant Nutrient Functions and Deficiency Symptoms
Crop rotation
Cover crops
Companion planting
No-till and reduced tillage

Week Three
Cultural Practices for Vegetables
Choosing seed, heirlooms vs. hybrid
Organically produced seed (Organic Seed Treatments and Coatings)
Fundamentals of Soil Fertility
Understanding Soils, Soil Tests and Soil Problems
Crop Production Budgets

Week Four
Organic Weed Management and Control Methods
Weed Ecology
Common Weeds
Wildlife Damage Management (Deer, Woodchucks, etc)

Week Five
Pest & Disease Control
Plant Pathology Introduction
Integrated Pest Management (Definition and techniques)
Natural Enemies in Organic Farming Systems

Week Six
Greenhouse production and season extension
Overview of season extension principles and techniques
Materials of a High Tunnel & Greenhouse Construction
Overview of tunnel production (types of tunnels, common problems, disease management and how to construct a low-cost tunnel)
USDA NRCS Greenhouse funding
Vegetable transplant production
Growing Media for Greenhouse Production
Sustainable Commercial Greenhouse Production

Week Seven
Growing Legumes (Beans, Broad Beans, Peas)
-Review varieties, soil fertility, planting, harvest, weed control, insect control, disease control

Growing Brassicas (Cabbage, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Brussel sprouts)
-Review varieties, soil fertility, planting, harvest, weed control, insect control, disease control

Growing Curcurbits (Cucumber, Pumpkin, Squash)
-Review varieties, soil fertility, planting, harvest, weed control, insect control, disease control

Week Eight
Growing Lettuce
-Review varieties, soil fertility, planting, harvest, weed control, insect control, disease control

Growing Corn
-Review varieties, soil fertility, planting, harvest, weed control, insect control, disease control

Carrot family – Apiaceae (Carrot, Celery, Parsley)
-Review varieties, soil fertility, planting, harvest, weed control, insect control, disease control

Beetroot family – Chenopodiaceae (Swiss chard, beets, spinach)
-Review varieties, soil fertility, planting, harvest, weed control, insect control, disease control

Week Nine
Onion family – Alliaceae (Garlic, onions, leeks and shallots)
Growing Garlic
Growing Shallots
Solanaceae Family (Potatoes, Eggplant, Peppers and Tomatoes)
Growing Potatoes
Growing Peppers
Growing Eggplant
Field Production of Tomatoes
Organic greenhouse production of tomatoes and diseases
Management of non-pathogenic fruit disorders of tomato
Grafting for disease management in organic tomato production
Growing Asparagus

Week Ten
Estimating soil moisture
Overview of flood, drip and spray irrigation methods
Details for center-pivot spray irrigation system
General Irrigation Guidelines (Trickle or Drip Irrigation)
Understanding Irrigation Management Factors
Overview of Furrow Irrigation
Using rainwater for irrigation in a high tunnel
Irrigation Energy

Week Eleven

Harvest & Post-Harvest
Quality in relation to marketability of vegetables
Influence of Pre-harvest Factors on Post-harvest Quality
Post-harvest Handling For Organic Crops
Respiration and Ethylene and their Relationship to Post-harvest Handling
Approved Chemicals for Use in Organic Post-harvest Systems
Pre-cooling and Storage Facilities
Specialty Crops for Cold Climates

Plan for Marketing Your Organic Products
Direct Marketing with Value-Added Products

Week Twelve
Study profiles of experienced vegetable growers.
Peruse farm websites provided or research other diversified vegetable farms throughout the USA and/or world. Depending on your final project choice, you can clarify your questions while speaking with farmers as well as beginning to research for the paper or create your hands-on project.

Week Thirteen

Students will choose ONE of the following:

  • Hands-on project related to the topics covered in class. This is accompanied with a write-up documenting steps of project with pictures, as well as a 3 pg report related to topic (with at least two academic references). Examples include: building raised bed, creating a vermicomposting bin, building a cold frame, starting microgreens, building an herb spiral, trial comparing two growing mediums or mulches, building compost bins, creating/organizing community garden plots, building a low tunnel, etc.
  • Write a research paper on a topic of choice based on material that was covered over the semester. Length of report should be 8-10 pages, Times New Roman font style, size 12, double-spaced. Please include at least 15 references (at least 5 of them as academic, peer-reviewed articles) included in a Works Cited at the end of the report and properly cited throughout paper. Citations can be either MLA or APA, but please be consistent throughout. Submit a .doc file type named lastname_finalassignment

These are only ideas for paper and all topics must be approved by instructor:

1. Outline the major weeds faced by vegetable farmers in a particular region and what steps can be taken to organically manage them (or focus on one or two and go very in-depth).
2. Describe the most common diseases faced by organic vegetable farmers in a particular region and what steps can be taken to manage them following organic principles.
3. Research various pests faced by farmers and what steps can be taken to biologically control them.
4. Choose one of the issues presented to you by a farmer you spoke with or that you know, and research possible solutions (storage, CSA inefficiency, extreme dry or humid conditions, lack of consumer education, etc).
5. Season extension! Which vegetables are best for which regions and what can we do to increase the growing efficiency of providing local vegetables year-round despite cold winter temperatures?


This class fulfills requirements for all three of the online programs offered by the University of Massachusetts Stockbridge School of Agriculture in Sustainable Food and Farming:

All online classes cost $482/credit.

More Online Classes

One thought on “”

  1. Respected sir /mam

    Iam international student (indian ), how to enroll for organic vegetable production programme via online and please provide me a Boucher with respect this , which includes fees .
    Waiting for the way back response for this .
    Thanking your .


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