Making a bed
A bed is made within the homestead in the back yard for ease of monitoring.
- Obtain the right mixture of the nursery media. Hold the bed in place by supporting the sides with bricks or wood
- Spread it out to make a bed
- Raise the bed 15cm above the ground. This height allows dense and deep root growth. It also enhances easy drainage in the bed. If the bed is raised more than 15cm above the ground, it is subject to erosion and if it is less than 15cm above the ground, root length and development will be affected. The roots will have a low depth of soft soil and will grow into a hard pan. The rate of increase will be low reducing the length; growth of root hairs will be poor, so seedling development will be poor.
- Limit the width of the bed to 1 meter. This width enables the nursery worker to work on the bed without stepping on it.
- Build a shelter above the bed. The shelter should be 1 meter above the bed. A shelter less than 1 meter reduces light penetration into the bed and thus seedlings become tall, thin and weak. A height beyond 1 meter allows excess sunshine into the nursery and water loss from the bed is high. Seedlings at the edge of the bed are most affected. There is irregular growth of seedlings and more water needed for watering. Shelter should face east-west direction to ensure even exposure to the sun in the bed.
- The shelter above the bed should be wider than the bed below to ensure that seedlings all over the bed get uniform growth conditions.
- As the seedlings grow, keep on reducing the thickness of the shelter. This is to ensure that there is enough light for each stage of growth of the seedlings.
Care in the bed
- Watering is done regularly to promote growth. This is especially when the rains have ceased.
- Pest and disease control – Aphids, mites and powdery mildew are common problems in the nursery. Spraying must be done with appropriate chemicals. Dimethoate can be used for both aphids and mites while Ridomil can be used for powdery mildew.
- Weeding – keep seedlings free of weeds. This promotes quick growth and vigor. It loosens soil periodically to allow aeration and percolation of water.
- Thinning – if seedlings appear congested, thin them so as to produce sturdy and vigorous plants. Thinning also reduces chances of disease outbreak especially powdery mildew.
Care of potted plants in the nursery
- Watering – water regularly to promote quick growth and revival from transplanting shock. This practice is important especially during the dry season when the rains have stopped.
- Weeding – timely weeding is important. It reduces competition for food, removes alternative hosts for pests and diseases, thus making seedlings grow vigorously.
- Pest and disease control – carry out regular scouting in the nursery. This enables the nursery owner to detect any attacks and provide remedy in its early stages.
- When seedlings increase in size, their light needs to increase as well. It is therefore good to space the pots for seedlings to get adequate light. Closely spaced seedlings become tall, thin and weak and liable to die amidst stress.
- Align pots in rows and mark paths to ease movement in the nursery. Poor arrangement of pots will cause breakage as the workers move within the nursery.
- Impose restrictions on people visiting the nursery.
- They are to enter the nursery by the permission of the nursery supervisor.
- Put a footpath at the entrance to the nursery. This footpath is drenched with a disinfectant and any other visitor entering the nursery must step in this drenched footbath. The disinfectant will kill any pathogens on the footwear of the visitor.
- Lock the nursery when no one is working in it. This avoids theft of the plants and damage by stubborn domestic animals like pigs.