A poorly constructed and managed nursery bed will lead to poor
A poorly constructed and managed nursery bed will lead to poor germination or diseased seedlings. The seedlings may fail to grow when transplanted. A farmer may lose big in buying seeds and preparing the garden again and could plant in the wrong season. These affect food security, income and nutrition since vegetables are important components for our diets.
A nursery bed is a prepared plot of land for raising seedlings. It acts as a temporary home for young plants until they are eventually planted in a main garden.
Vegetables such as cabbages, onions, tomatoes, eggplants are best raised in the nursery bed.
The nursery should be near the main garden to avoid damage of seedlings during transplanting. The water source should also be near for irrigation. The nursery bed should be protected from strong winds and should never be located on a slope to avoid erosion of seeds and nutrients, it should face east-west direction and should never be put in a water logged area.
After site selection, clear the land. Measure 1m wide of any convenient length, dig it well at least to a depth of 0.3-0.45m so that stones and roots lying underneath are dug out and thrown outside the nursery. If the soil is gravely, it should be sieved through a ne wire mesh to remove gravel.
The soil should then be mixed with farmyard manure with one wheelbarrow of compost and sand for 3m2 to make at least a 7cm layer. Charcoal dust and ashes can also be mixed in the bed to correct the acidity of soil and keep away worms. Note that inorganic fertiliser can also be added during bed preparation at rate of 900gm of 5-10-5 NPK fertiliser per 9m2 of bed area.
Seeds should be planted at spacing of 15cm between rows, cover the seeds lightly and mulch the bed with dry grass. The bed should have been watered thoroughly on the day prior to sowing. Mulching a nursery bed soon after sowing seeds is a must.
Maintenance of nursery bed
Mulch the seed bed after sowing until germination.
Provide enough shade to the crop after germination 1m above bed. Thin the crops properly, remove weak or diseased seedlings and keep the bed weed-free.
Transplant seedlings after 21–30 days. Harden the crop by removing the shade a day before transplanting as this gives the seedling chance to get used to the direct sun.
Reduce water at this stage. Transplant at recommended spacing per crop early in the morning or late in the evening (from 6:00am to 10:00am or 4:00 to 6:00pm) and plants should receive water as soon as transplanting is done.