Nursery comes in different types, forms, and sizes. Depending on what structure and how big you want to establish. Whatever considerations to take, the bottom line is that it is very helpful in protecting the young plants from the unforeseen vagaries in the field. For it is a place for nurturing and caring.
A nursery is a place where plants are being propagated until mature enough to transplant into the desired area. It is where the plant seeds or cuttings are being sown and cultivated to grow to usable sizes.
As to vegetable production, a nursery is considered as the heart of the garden or farm. For a farm will not operate and function without the seedlings to plant. This is where young plants are being reproduced and prepared for the final process of the production. Hence, once the nursery fails, so too the farm.
So, what are the advantages? First, it provides a favorable environment for seedlings. Second, it reduces the mortality rate. Third, it promotes uniformity of the vegetable crops in the field. Fourth, it helps in the efficient use of land. Fifth, it promotes efficient utilization of time and inputs. Sixth, it helps in attaining to produce the desired output and many more.
A nursery has no definite forms and sizes. It could be small, big, tunnel type, or a house-like structure made from bamboos or metals. Some may feature an environment control system for more effective and efficient propagation. It all depends on the owner’s needs and purposes. Whether to establish it functionally, aesthetically, or both considering the volume of seedlings to produce and condition of the place. The important thing is what’s inside and how you are going to make the nursery functional and operating.
So now, here are the helpful guidelines in establishing a vegetable nursery.
Before buying the tools and materials needed, let’s all remember that site selection is the first thing to do in establishing a nursery. Choosing the right site could be difficult if you do not know the things to consider. So, these are the considerations to take in order to determine the ideal location.
First, the site must be accessible. So that it would be easy to prepare and travel the materials or seedlings needed in the production. Second, it must be near from permanent clean water source. For seedlings are really sensitive to intense heat, especially during drought season or summer. Right moisture is a must to maintain. Third, the site must be free from heavy shaded trees. For it will block the sunlight that plants need for growth and development. Fourth, it must be free and protected from disturbing animals, ruminants for instance. For it will devour all your seedlings. Lastly, it must be also free and protected from plant diseases, nuisance pests, and weeds. Since it will surely affect your propagation significantly.
There are many vegetable seeds available in the market today. They are packed with different brands, kinds, and varieties with different characteristics and environmental adaptations. For sure, choices are giving you the hard time to decide.
So, in choosing, pick those seed stores that are trustworthy. Those that are proven and tested by your friends or most of the gardeners or farmers. For some stores might give you old supplies that tend to have germination problems. As to brands, choose those that are produced by reputable companies. For their seeds are produced and packed with quality. Furthermore, with respect to the varieties, select those vegetables that are suited in the environmental condition of your area.
On the other hand, a germination test is very essential to conduct in order to avoid seed wastage. For it will determine the actual germination rate of the seeds. Furthermore, by doing this test, you will be able to determine how many seed allowance to set to cover the unexpected mortality during propagation.
How to do it? The first thing to do, in a seedling tray or seedbox, sow one hundred vegetable seeds. Say lettuce. Generally, after three days seedlings will emerge. Then, count the number of seeds that germinated. If newly sprouted seeds are at the rate of 85% to 95%, meaning the seeds you bought are very good. While the germination rate is at 85%, it implies that you should increase the number of seeds to be sown in order to cover the losses. However, if the rate of the seedling is below 60%, you may discard the seeds and consider to test another pack.
As a whole, do this test prior to the actual sowing of the desired number of seeds.
Seedling Containers and Seedbeds
Seeds can be sown on different containers and seedbeds, considering the kind of vegetable. Generally, for leafy vegetable such as lettuce, it is more practical and appropriate to use seedlings tray. For it is convenient to use. The seedlings can be pulled easily without excessively damaging the roots.
There are many seedling trays available in the market today. They vary from the number and size of the holes. For lettuce, I’ve tried seedling trays with 108 and 128 holes. Between the two, I prefer the 128 holes. For the results were the same even the holes are bit small than 108. While for Pechay and microgreens, seedbed is more appropriate to use.
As to fruiting vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, cucumber, gourds, and squash, I am using disposable cups rather than seedling trays and polyethylene bags. Since it is more practical and does not introduce use-and-tear utilization.
In choosing a soil medium for a nursery, compost mix is way better than plain soil. For it is packed with macro and microelements needed by seedlings. Soil nutrients which are synthesized by microorganisms for ready root uptake. You can mix at 1:1 ratio of plain healthy soil and compost.
In establishing a nursery, gardening tools are part of the must-have. Since these are very useful in maintaining the nursery. The common tools are the shovel, hand trowel, sprinkler, hand sprayer, and knapsack sprayer. As well as, handheld weeding tools like sickle and scythe.
Water is one of the vital components for the success of nursery operation. For it cannot survive without water. In irrigating, let’s all remember that under and excessive watering cause stress and damage to seedlings. These made them vulnerable to diseases. So, a right quantity is a must.
For newly sown seeds and sprouted seedlings, I recommend pressurized hand sprayer. This is to facilitate controlled water pressure to avoid seed lost and breaking of seedlings. Additionally, you may also use knapsack sprayer if you have a bigger nursery. For it’s more practical, efficient and convenient. As to more than a week old seedlings, you may now use hand sprinklers. For seedlings are sturdy enough to resist the splash of water coming from the sprinkler.
A good mix of compost and healthy soil may not require fertilizer application. However, if yellowing of leaves are observed it is necessary to apply. The change in color is a symptom of a nutritional deficiency. In order to address the problem, you may use liquid or granular fertilizer at the product’s recommended dosage. Moreover, it does not only address nutritional deficiency but it also promotes uniformity in growth, good rooting system, and sturdy seedlings.
Effects of direct sun’s heat vary from plant to plant. It could be damaging for some seedlings if not conditioned. That’s why hardening is part of the seedling care. This is to expose the seedlings directly into the sun’s heat and gradually reducing the frequency of watering. In order to prepare the seedlings for the rigors in the field. This is usually done seven to ten days before transplanting. This conditioning has proven to be effective since the hardened seedlings are performing better than those not.
Common destructive insects in the nursery are ants, cutworm, leafhopper, leaf miner, aphids and whiteflies. General preventive measures are by proper sanitation, weeding, and covering the nursery with insect-proof nets. However, in the presence of insects, it is essential to apply insecticide in order to eliminate them. You may use Success, Agrimek, Decis, or Prevathon depending on the kind of insect under product’s recommended dosage and direction.
As to diseases, most common are damping-off, early blight, powdery mildew, and Cercospora leaf spot. These can be prevented, controlled or suppressed through proper sanitation, solarization of soil medium, and planting of healthy and resistant varieties. As well as, by the application of fungicide like Timorex Gold, Nevlate, Dithane, and Fungitox under the product’s recommended dosage and direction.
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