The last episode (12) discusses extensively all you should know about seeds, exploring the types and method of handling as a foundation for a healthy Bio-intensive farm. If you missed this essential study, get it here.

Worthy of note is the fact that a good and viable seed also requires a well-prepared nursery to thrive well. It is on this basis that episode 13 brings you instructions on how to prepare a good nursery for your Bio-intensive farm or garden.

To start with, the importance of the size and depth of nursery trays, pots or containers cannot be overemphasised in nursery preparation because this determines the growth of the seedlings. 

When the seedling grows to the point that its roots start to touch the bottom or base of the tray or container, transplanting should be done immediately, otherwise the plant believes that it has reached the growth limit and hence enters a state of premature senility.

Premature senility can also occur when the seedling is planted without a tray, that is, directly in the soil. Here, the seedling begins to flower and bear fruit, though only at transplanting size. 

Ideally, if a seed tray or container is being used, and the seedling is more than 4-6 weeks in the nursery, then a container or seed tray that is 6 inches deep is needed to allow for root formation and proper development. 

Sometimes, shallow rooted seed tray might have been used initially to plant a seed, such may be transferred into a bigger seed tray when the need arises and when the seed will have to stay for more than 6 weeks in one nursery.  The act of transferring seeds is called pricking-out.

What is a Nursery?

A nursery is a managed site that has been designed to produce seedlings grown under favourable conditions until they are ready for transplanting.

Importance of Nursery beds.

  • Nursery is used to produce seedlings and grafts from which the fruit orchards and ornamental gardens are established with minimum care, cost and maintenance.
  • Seedlings from the nursery are available at the beginning of the planting season.  This saves time for farmers.
  • It assures the production of improved quality planting materials (seedlings).
  • Raising seedlings requires less water than direct sowing of seeds.

Characteristics of a Good Nursery Soil;

  • Loose friable texture that crumbles well.
  • Absence of clods and under-laying hardpan below the plough depth.
  • Rich in nutrients and high cation exchange capacity.
  • Freedom from crusting when drying occurs rapidly.
  • Supports beneficial fungi, bacteria, and earthworms.
  • A nursery soil exhibiting these characteristics will perform well both in the short term and future.

Medium for nursery includes but not limited to soil, coco peats and compost.  Note that it is not compulsory to use coco peats but it is a very good material for raising seeds.

To form a good medium, you can prepare your nursery soil using any of the calculations or ratio below.

1 ratio compost: ½ ratio good top soil: ½ ratio coarse soil


1 ratio compost: ½ top soil: ½ ratio coco peat


1 ratio compost: 1 ratio topsoil


1 ratio compost: 1 ratio coco peat


Meanwhile, the time of sowing/initiation of propagule production depends on when (time) the seedlings will reach an optimum size (with good root network and about 20 cm tall).

The number of plants required to be produced from a nursery can be calculated using the mathematical expression below;

Number of plants required for the season = W

Mortality in nursery = X

Transportation/culling loss/ hardening off = Y

Seedling required for buffer loss = Z

Total seedlings required to be produced from the nursery = W + X + Y + Z

Things to consider to own a good nursery area needed to raise healthy and strong seedlings.

The nursery site should be located in the nutrient rich/medium soil, near to water source, and free from soil pathogens and insects.

  • The site should be on a gently sloping area and away from other tall crops. This is important for good drainage as well as to encourage air circulation, for large farms.

With this episode, we have entered the main practical stage of gardening. Please do not miss the next episode targeted to take you a step further into becoming a skilful Bio-intensive farmer

Thank you.

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