How To Set Up Vegetable Nursery – Ideas, And Tips

Introduction on How to Set Up a Vegetable Nursery

A vegetable nursery is a place for raising or handling young vegetable seedlings until they are ready for more permanent planting. Some vegetables need special care during their early growth period. The production of quality planting materials or vegetable seedlings very is important for having a good yield. A successful vegetable nursery offers a wide variety of young plants to their customers who purchase the plants individually or in bulk quantities.

Starting a vegetable nursery is a huge challenge that requires dedication, long hours, and hard work, day in and day out. It’s not enough to know about growing plants; owners of successful nurseries should have a working knowledge of plumbing, electricity, equipment, soil types, labor management, packing, shipping, and much more.

A Step by Step Guide to Set Up a Vegetable Nursery on your own

A vegetable nursery is a place where seedlings are grown before transplanting them in the main plots. Generally, the seed is to grow vegetable plants and to raise seedlings. So, the quality of the seed is very important based on which the vegetable seed is sown. Some vegetables cannot grow directly by seed sowing into the plot. For example, for vegetables like Tomato, Eggplant, Rayo, Cabbage, and Cauliflower, seedling first needs to be raised and then transplanted in the plot. Normally, the seeds are covered with a layer of soil after sowing. There are different types of vegetable seeds based on their size and it is important to maintain correct distances between plant to plant and row to row distances.

Why do we need to Set Up a Vegetable Nursery?

Some vegetable plants require special care during their early growth period because of small-sized seeds and keep the seedlings safe from harsh temperature because the nursery is in a small area easy to protect. These are first sown in the nursery for better care and to combat with the time for field preparation and after 1 month of seed sowing, transplanted in the main field.

Selection of Site to Set Up a Vegetable Nursery

Site selection is the first important consideration for the nursery set up.

The following points are considered while selecting the nursery area;

  • The area selected must be well-drained, and free from waterlogging.
  • The area should have proper sunlight.
  • The nursery location must be near the water supply.
  • It should be always away from shade to get the desired amount of sunlight.
  • The area must be well protected from the pet and wild animals.
  • The nursery should be near the water supply so that watering can is very easy.

Soil Preparation to Set Up a Vegetable Nursery

Good soil for growing nursery plants is the correct mixture of sand, clay, and organic matter. Soil should be loam to sandy loam, and friable, rich in organic content, and well-drained for raising vegetable seedling the soil pH level should be 7.0. Soil preparation needs deep cultivation of nursery land by soil turning, ploughing by spade, and subsequent 2-3 hoeing with a cultivator. Remove all the clods, stones, and weeds from the field and level the nursery land. Mix 100 kg well rotten and fine FYM of about 500 gm vermicomposting per square meter mixed in the soil.

Soil Media – Even if your land is not fertile enough for the saplings to grow healthy there are other ways that you can opt for to make your vegetable plants grow healthy. The soil needs to be fertile for the successful germination of vegetable seeds. The vegetable plants should get proper nutrient supply, enough space for rooting, and adhesiveness in the soil to hold it.

Make sure your nursery land has enough stock of black and red soil, sand, compost, sawdust, farmyard manure, sphagnum moss, vermiculite, and peat moss. The acidity of the soil should be maintained so while planting, make sure the soil is between 5.5 and 6.5 pH level. Then, this will make the soil media more economical.

Tools Required to Set Up a Vegetable Nursery

The tools that you are going to need for watering, cutting, grafting, and other activities related to planting are watering cans, scissors, crowbar, digging forks, grafting knives, germination trays, grafting tape, spades, hose pipes, pushcarts, Pruners, little storage units if you’re planting separately, etc. You need to make sure that the tools are relevant, do not compromise on the quality as it can lead to stem and root damage.

Methods of Growing Vegetables in Nurseries   

Vegetable nurseries are grown for getting vegetables. There are different species of vegetable plants that can be grown in nurseries like Sweet Potato, Potato, Bottle Gourd, Drumsticks, Carrot, Coriander, Radish, Spinach, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Capsicum, Peas, Tomato, Brinjal, Chili, Okra, Bitter Gourd, Pumpkin, French Beans, Bush Beans, and Onion, etc.    

Different methods of growing vegetables in nurseries are;            

1- Direct sowing (Through seed) – Okra, Peas, Cucumber, Bottle gourd, Radish, Turnip, Spinach, Carrots, and Beet Roots, etc.  

2- Through seedlings – Onion, Tomato, Brinjal, Pepper, Chilies, Cauliflower, Cabbage,  Lettuce and Salary, Parsley, Artichoke, etc.

3- Vegetative propagation – Potato, Ginger, Turmeric, Mint, Sweet potato, and Garlic, etc.

Sowing of Seeds in the Nursery

Sowing seeds in a nursery has many benefits, the greatest of which is that it enables certain plants to start growing in ideal conditions.

A sowing nursery is a small and well-prepared patch of soil where seeds are sown and started. Young plants are then transplanted one or more times until they reach their final growing bed in your garden. A sunny spot of your garden protected from the wind will be the perfect place for seedlings to start.

Steps to prepare a nursery plot for sowing

  • Clear the plot to clean it and remove roots, rocks, and weeds.
  • Break up hard soil to make it lighter.
  • If needed, add a bit of organic matter (manure and seaweed-based fertilizer), mixing it into the ground.
  • Dig furrows with a spacing of about 3 to 6 inches depending on the plant you are sowing.
  • Sow the seeds in a line (for vegetables) or larger seeds, spreading them out evenly.
  • Fill in or cover with seedling soil mix.
  • Press down lightly with the reverse side of a rake.
  • Water generously.

Vegetables that are best sown in a nursery

A few vegetables that are best sown in a nursery are celery, broccoli, cauliflower, headed cabbage, kohlrabi, ornamental cabbage, fennel, leek, and chard.

Nursery sowing is mandatory under the below conditions;

  • To produce high-quality seedlings.
  • To extend the growing season of the plant by raising nursery in offseason under-protected gardening.
  • To minimize germination losses as compared to direct field sowing.

After the seedbed is prepared then the vegetable seeds are sown in the nursery bed differently. Those methods are as follows.

Broadcast methods – Vegetable seeds are broadcasted in the prepared nursery bed and later on the seeds are covered with well rotten fine sieved and treated FYM or compost. The disadvantage of this method is there is an uneven distribution of seeds in the nursery becomes dense but this method is commonly used and practiced.

Line Sowing – The line sowing method is the best method of sowing in the nursery. Lines are made about 0.5-1 cm deep parallel to the width at the distance of 5 cm from the line. The seeds are sown or placed singly at the distance of 1cm apart. Cover the seeds with the fine mixture of soil, sand, and FYM in a ratio of about 1:1:1. After covering a light watering must be given with the fine rose can.

Nursery Bed Preparation for Vegetables

Nursery beds should be prepared according to the seasons and plants where raised beds are prepared in the rainy seasons and flatbeds are prepared for the winter and summer seasons.

Nursery bed should be prepared according to the season and selection of plants;

  • In the rainy season, raised beds are prepared but in the winter and summer season flatbeds must be prepared. Similarly, onion in the Rabi season requires flat nursery beds. For a uniform and high percentage of germination, the soil should be fine and moist enough.
  • If the seedlings are to be raised in boxes during unfavorable weather conditions, the flower pots, polythene bags, potting plugs, wooden trays, and earthen pots, etc may be used. Prepare soil mixture in the ratio of about 1:1:1 of soil, sand and well rotten FYM/leaf mould, etc., and then fill the mixture in seedlings raising structure. The arrangement should be made to drain excess water from these structures by making a hole in the bottom of all pots.

Raised nursery beds for Planting Vegetables

Raised nursery beds.
Raised nursery beds
  • The width of 1 m with 15 to 20 cm high from the ground level of a raised bed is prepared. A space of about 30-40 cm is left between two beds and ultimately it converts into furrows.
  • The nursery bed must be smooth and slightly raised in the center compared to the margin for the easy drain of the bed.
  • Length of the bed can be kept 3 to 5 meter; however, width is restricted to 1 meter only which facilitates intercultural operations.
  • The nursery beds are raised 15 to 20 cm high from the ground level. The space between 2 beds helps in weeding, nursery care against diseases and insect pests, and also for draining out the excess rainwater from the nursery beds.
  • The number of beds mainly depends on the particular crop, season, and growing area of crop.
  • The beds should be prepared in the east and west direction and a line should be made from the north to south direction on the nursery beds.

Factors to be considered to Set Up a Vegetable Nursery

  • Location of the nursery
  • Near the house
  • Well protected against animal damage, strong winds
  • Near the water source
  • Continuous supply of good water
  • The seedbed must be kept moist not continually wet.
  • Soil should have a large quantity of organic matter and normally rich in all the necessary elements.

Steps to Set Up a Vegetable Nursery

Starting your nursery requires doing plenty of tasks. And everything must be done with timely execution to ensure the quality and propagation of seedlings. Below given is the step-by-step process for starting your nursery.

Step 1) The first step in starting a plant nursery is the extraction of seeds and seeds should be extracted without being destroyed from fully grown vegetables for the harvesting of seeds.

Step 2) Second is using those extracted seeds for plantation and the seeds must be sowed in seedbeds or germination trays for their future growth. This step must be done carefully as it is a crucial step.

Step 3) The next step is to transfer the saplings to storage units or polybag pots. Then the transfer of the young saplings must be done at a safe transplanting stage very carefully. 

Step 4) The mother or the main plants that were used for the seed extraction should be maintained as it is used for seasonal propagation.

Step 5) After these steps, now it is time to do careful maintenance of the saplings.  They must be sprayed with pesticide solutions, timely application of fertilizers and watering, etc.

Step 6) As your vegetable plants show some significant growth you should keep a track of everything, like what makes them grow faster and what are the required elements in the soil, and should take careful note of which season is best for growing which species of plants.

Step 7) You should keep a track of everything, like what makes them grow faster and what are the required elements in the soil, and which season is best for growing which species of vegetable plants so that sampling could grow best. Now that everything is done, your plants are ready to be sold in your nursery.

Step 8)  Now that everything is done, your vegetable plants are ready to be sold. And repeat this process again and again to grow more vegetable plants.

Raising Seedlings in the Nursery Beds

You should not miss this: Growing Plants from Seeds.

Egg Plant Seedlings in the Nursery.
Raised nursery beds

A nursery is a compact place where seedlings of small and costly plants are raised for better germination and growth under incentive care. Seedlings of several vegetable plants need to be first raised in a well-prepared nursery bed before transplanting them in the main field. Nursery management is an important operation in the successful production of vegetable plants, especially in plants that are essentially raised through seedlings in properly managed nursery beds.

Raisings seedlings in the nursery beds is an economical, easier, and convenient method to nourish and take special care of young, tender seedlings against the pest, diseases, weeds, heavy rains, hot sun, and other natural hazards. Generally, seeds of small-seeded vegetable plants such as brinjal, chili, tomato, capsicum, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, lettuce, onion, etc. are first raised in nursery beds, besides the seedlings of cucurbitaceous crops are also raised in polybags.

Advantages of Nursery Raising in Vegetable Production

  • Production of plants of superior quality.
  • Production of seedlings at a cheaper cost.
  • The pests and diseases are kept under control.
  • The weed-free nursery material is available.
  • It is possible to provide favorable growth conditions i.e. germination as well as growth.
  • Nurseries eliminate the problem of difficult soils.
  • Nurseries give easy weed control and higher yields.
  • More accurate prediction of harvest date.
  • Better care of younger plants as it is easy to look after a nursery in a small area against pathogenic infection, pests, diseases, and weeds.
  • Plants grown by nursery raising is quite early and fetches a higher price in the market, so economically more profitable.

How to Start a Nursery for Growing Vegetables or How to Set Up a Vegetable Nursery

Some important points to be considered when starting a plant nursery business. Here are just a few major points;

Step 1) First, find out what tools and equipment are readily available to you, such as gardening gloves, watering cans, or a hosepipe and pruners, which are necessary for gardening. The more tools you find the better, as this will save you on initial costs, thus serving as strength. Find out what threats, such as pests and diseases, are likely to attack the preferred plant.

Step 2) Use the information acquired from your research on plant preference and market availability in deciding what plants to grow in your nursery. Research the climatic requirements, water, and soil requirements, for your plant of choice based on the market and personal preference.

Step 3) Do your research – Study up before you spend a lot of money. Visit other places to look at their plant nursery setup. Work with the small business center in your area to learn about hiring practices and other specifics of running a small business.

Step 4) Basics of starting a plant nursery – Successful nurseries are located in convenient areas where people can stop on their way home from work, often near urban areas. Be sure there is adequate space, a dependable source of water, and available labor source, and access to transportation. Consider possible competition from nearby nurseries. Then, you are starting a home nursery, retail, and landscaping nursery is preferred.

Step 5) Choose an appropriate method of watering depending on the size of your nursery, number of plants, and the availability of water. For a larger number of plants, install pipes all around the nursery. And, making sure your plants are constantly watered without the soil becoming waterlogged.

Step 6) Plant the cuttings, seedlings, or seeds depending on vegetable plant selection by the advice offered by the extension officers. Check on the plants regularly to carry out the necessary field activities like weeding.

Step 9) Nursery business requirements – Investigate the requirements of plant nursery set up, like state or local permits, licenses, or certificates. Think through your goals, mission, and objectives.

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