The growth of nursery plants depends on the texture (the proportion of sand, silt and clay) of the soil.
Loamy soils containing sufficient fine particles (clay and silt) to hold up water together with sand to facilitate excess water to drain out are suitable for nurseries.
The pH of the soil should be within a range of 4.5 and 5.5, preferably 5 for successful rooting and growth. The soils chosen for bagging should be sieved using No.4 mesh to remove stones, pebbles and large root particles.
The sources of soil suitable for nurseries are as follows;
This is the soil with suitable texture from natural jungles, eucalyptus or pinus plantation.
The surface organic matter (decaying leaves and twigs) should be removed prior to use.
This is obtained from a depth beyond 30cm from the soil surface. After sieving (with No.4 mesh), its texture should be improved by adding fine sand proportionately (one part of fine sand with four to six parts of sub soil depending on the clayeyness of the soil).
Soil should not be collected for nursery when it is too wet or too dry to preserve the desired structure.
Soil collected should be heaped in an enclosed area and protected from rain by thatching/ covering until it is used. Soils collected from tea growing areas should be fumigated before use to eradicate nematodes (pests) in the soil.
Polyethylene bags (12x18cm) are used as pots. Several holes are needed in the bottom of the bag for drainage. First, soil mixed with compost (50%) is put into the bag to fill it one-third full.
Then, fine soil (2/3) is added to fill the pot. The pots are placed firmly on the nursery bed.
Erecting the roof
A roof is set up, 1.8-2.0m above the ground. Roofing material should be in pieces, small enough for them to be removed easily to allow watering and exposure to sunlight.
Preparation of cuttings
Choose branches six months old, with a stem of 4-6mm in diameter. Cut each branch into small pieces, each 3-4cm in length with a single leaf.
Planting of cuttings
Irrigate the bag pots up to about 80-85% before planting the cuttings. One or two cuttings are planted in each pot.
- One to two months: Remove the roof only on cloudy days.
- Three to four months: Remove the roof for the whole length between two rows.
- After five months: Remove 1/3 of the roof.
- From six months: Remove the whole shade.