A terribly built nursery bed can result in faulty germination or unhealthy seedlings. On top of that, the seedlings might fail to grow when you finally transplant them, rendering all your sweat and hard work fruitless. As a farmer, you can incur high costs in purchasing seeds and preparing your garden once more, which costs money and time.
That’s you should get it right when building a nursery bed straight from the start. This blog post will give you useful tips to use when constructing a nursery and save yourself the stress and the heartache that results in poor construction of nursery beds. Before that, let’s be clear on what a nursery bed is.
A nursery bed is an equipped plot of land to raise seedlings. It serves as a nursery for young crops until they are ready to be planted on the primary farm.
In other words, a nursery is a site where you carefully raise seedlings, cuttings, and grafts are before you transplant them to the main field.
Vegetables such as tomatoes, cabbages, onions, and eggplants grow best in a nursery bed.
Crops can be started in the seedbed while vegetables mature in other parts of the main field. When the seedlings are harvested, they can be transplanted, offering them a leg up for succession planting. In your nursery:
- You can raise valuable and tiny seeds efficiently and without waste.
- It is extremely convenient to care for tender and delicate seedlings.
- It is simple to protect seedlings against pests and diseases.
- It helps you maintain uniform crop stands in the main field by picking healthy, uniform, and vibrant seedlings in your nursery.
1. Pick A Suitable Location
It’s tempting to set up a seedbed in a secluded corner of your field where nothing else grows. Nevertheless, it is preferable to give these tender plants the best location possible – if you don’t give them a great start, there will be no point in putting in all the effort to grow these plants later in the year because they will not recover.
So, pick a light position that is not exposed to strong winds but is not overshadowed. Above all, the location should be free of weed species, and it’s best to avoid places where you had grown potatoes were the year before because leftover tubers will send up shoots that bulldoze seedlings.
The nursery should be close to the main garden to avoid seedling damage during transportation and transplanting. It should also be near a reliable water source for Irrigation. The nursery bed should be adequately protected from strong winds and never placed on a slope to avoid seed and nutrient erosion. It should face east-west and never be placed in a water-logged location.
In general, the place should be partly shaded, let’s say under trees.
If this is not possible, provide shade protection and guard the nursery bed against animals that will damage the plants.
2. How to Prepare A Seed Bed
Clear the land after deciding on a location. Measure 1m wide by any convenient length, and dig it to a depth of at least 0.3-0.45m so that any stones or roots lying beneath are dug out and thrown outside the nursery. If the soil is gravelly, sieve it through a wire mesh to remove the gravel. Mix the soil with farmyard manure, a single wheelbarrow of compost, and sand for every 3m2 to create a 7cm layer.
You can also mix charcoal dust and ashes into the bed to reduce soil acidity and keep worms at bay. Inorganic fertilizer is also a great option during bed preparation at the recommended rates.
A gardener’s term for the ideal soil structure for seeds is a ‘fine tilth.’ The soil must be crumbly but not grubby, similar to the ordinary breadcrumbs. This is where you put in a lot of effort. The soil type will influence how you go about preparing a suitable tilth.
Sandy soils will require a lot of organic matter, such as sifted compost, to lock in moisture well.
Heavy clay or silt soils will require breaking up, which can be accomplished by adding smooth organic matter or blending with lighter sandy soil. If the soil is still sticky from wet weather, you should avoid preparing a tilth – Let it dry out first. Similarly, very dusty soil is undesirable because it will form a hard crust after downpours, which is detrimental to young plants.
Here are the steps to prepare a perfect tilth
- Remove weeds and debris from the nursery bed’s surface.
- In a wheelbarrow, combine crumbly compost and extra soil as needed.
- Shake this into the soil using a garden sieve. Do so a spadeful at a time, to a depth of about 10cm (4 in). An excellent garden sieve has quarter-inch holes in the mesh and high sides, allowing you to shake the soil through without it spilling over the sides. If you put too much soil in at once, it will take ages.
- Finish by smoothing the soil level with a rake so that water does not run off but soaks in evenly. The back of your rake is more helpful for this job than the standard prongs. Never walk on the soil because you want it to be light and compact.
A nursery bed enables you to grow delicate crops as it enhances crop germination when you finally transplant them to the main garden. Locate it in a suitable place away from animals that may ruin the tender plants. Also, Provide enough shade for your nursery, and do not construct it on a slope.
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