Introduction: Hello polyhouse gardeners, we are here today with an excellent information of setting up a polyhouse plant nursery and managing plants within the polyhouse. A nursery is a place where seedlings are grown before transplanting them in the major plots. Generally, the seed is to produce vegetables and to raise seedlings. Therefore, the quality of seed is important based on which the vegetable seed is sown. Some vegetables cannot produce directly by sowing the seed into the plot. For example, vegetables such as tomato, eggplant, Rayo, cabbage and cauliflower, seedling first need to be raised and then transplanted in the plot. Normally, the seeds are covered with a layer of soil after sowing. While there are some other vegetables whose seed needs to be direct sowing in the major plot such as okra, mustard, legumes, etc.
A guide to polyhouse plant nursery setup and management
In many cases, if the seed is sown too close to the soil surface the risk is greater that they will be dried out by the sun or eaten by birds or rodents. There are several types of vegetable seeds based on their size and it is important to maintain to correct distances between plant to plant and row to row distances. A vegetable nursery is a place or an establishment for the rising of young vegetable seedlings until they are ready for more permanent planting.
The site selection for polyhouse plant nursery
Site Selection is the first important consideration for polyhouse nursery management;
Critical points considered while selecting nursery area;
- The area selected must be well-drained, and free from waterlogging,
- There must be proper sunlight,
- The polyhouse nursery must be near the water supply so that irrigation can be easy,
- The area must be well protected from pets and wild animals.
The soil and soil preparation for polyhouse plant nursery setup
The soil must be loam to sandy loam, loose 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 polyhouse nursery land either by soil turning, plowing 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 500 gm vermicompost per square meter well mixed in the soil.
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Structures used in polyhouse plant nursery
Cloches – These are structures covered with perforated polyethylene caps to protect seedling containers.
Low Tunnels – Low tunnels are small arc about 0.5 m tall. They cover the raised beds of the nursery. It is supported by a steel frame which is removed as necessary.
Medium and Walking Tunnels – These medium tunnel structures are of medium height where a person can walk and carry out nursery operations.
Cover material used in this structure is polyethylene. The polyethylene used for covering all structures is UV stabilized and 200 micron and this type of polythene has a life of 3 to 5 years.
Advantages of polyhouse plant nursery
- It is possible to provide favorable growth conditions that are germination as well as growth
- Better care of younger plants as it is easy to look after nursery set up in small areas against pathogenic infection, pests, and weeds.
- Crop grown by polyhouse nursery rising is quite early and fetch a higher price in the market, so economically more profitable.
- There is saving of land and labor as major fields will be occupied by the crops after 1 month and more intensive crop rotations can be followed.
- More time is obtainable for the preparation of the main field because the nursery is grown separately.
- As vegetable seeds are expensive particularly hybrids, so we can economize the seed by sowing them in the nursery.
Raising nursery under low-cost polyhouse
- The low-cost poly house nursery was made with PVC pipes and tied with sutli. These polyhouse structures were covered with 700 gauges (200 µm) UV stabilized polythene sheet.
- The seedlings were raised in two types of containers are Polybags and portrays. Well decomposed and sieved farmyard manure in a combination of FYM.
- The soil in a ratio of 2:1:1 by volume was mainly used as growing media.
- Production of offseason vegetable nurseries under-protected polyhouse structure was found a profitable business.
- Higher profit and disease-free seedlings were found in the offseason to raise an early crop in protected conditions and open field conditions. The low cost polyhouses were found economical for small.
Growing crops under temporary protected low height polyhouse nursery
Vegetable crops like French bean, amaranth and summer squash which are determinate in growth habit and could not be developed under open field condition during winter season successfully. They were grown under low height low-cost temporary poly structure which was highly appropriate for raising these crops during the offseason.
Polyhouse nursery production
Once the seed trays or containers are moved to production polyhouses, where they are kept under suitable temperature and humidity conditions for the development of seedlings.
A polyhouse structure riveted with galvanized nuts and bolts is normally recommended as it will be stronger and easier to repair if it is damaged.
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Suggested specifications for the polyhouse nursery structure;
- The width of a single span of the polyhouse must not exceed 26 ft (8 m).
- The roof structure must be extended at least 2.4 ft (0.75 m) on all four sides of a polyhouse to drain off rainwater in heavy rainfall areas.
- The complete structure must be made of 2 mm thick galvanized steel tubular pipes.
- The gutter height must be at least 15 feet above the floor area.
- The gable needs to be covered with insect net instead of polythene to prevent insects from entering the polyhouse nursery from the roof.
- The height of the curtain wall or apron must not be beyond 1 foot from the ground level.
Nursery bed preparation in polyhouse
In polyhouse, a nursery bed must be prepared according to the season and crop. In the rainy season raised beds are prepared but in the winter and summer season flatbeds must be prepared. For the 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, polythene bags, potting plugs, wooden treys, earthen pots, etc. may be used. Prepare soil mixture in the ratio of 1:1:1 of soil, sand and well rotten FYM or leaf mold, etc. and fill the mixture in these seedlings raising polyhouse structure. The arrangement must be made to drain excess water from these structures by making a hole in the bottom of all types of pots.
Raised nursery beds for polyhouse plant nursery
The width of 1 m with 15-20 cm high from the ground level of a raised bed is arranged. A space of 30-40 cm is left between two beds and finally, 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. The bed should prepare in the east and west direction and the line must be made north to south on the beds.
Factors to be considered for raising a nursery in polyhouse;
- Location of the nursery
- Near the house
- Well exposed to the sun however protected against severe heat
- Well protected against animal damage, strong winds.
Seed sowing for polyhouse plant nursery
- Treat seeds with recommended seed dressing or hot water before planting.
- Drill thinly in rows 10cm apart and cover with a very thin layer of soil.
- For seed trays, sow one seed per cell and cover with newsprint.
- Cover bed with dry grass or non-seeded, transparent plastic sheet or palm fronds and water.
- Seeds emerge within 5 to 7 days.
The watering requirement for polyhouse nursery setup
The nursery beds need light irrigation with the help of rose can till the seeds get germinated. Excess rainwater or irrigated water must be drained out from the field as and when it is required otherwise plants may die due to excess of water.
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Watering in the nursery beds depends upon the weather condition. If the temperature is high, open irrigation is applied and need not irrigate the beds during rainy days. Irrigation travelers, sprinkler or micro-sprinkler systems are usually used in production polyhouses although when containers are used in production, drip irrigation systems are also used.
Fertile soils may not need fertilizer applications. Observe seedlings as they grow and if leaves are pale yellow color, apply a solution of NPK (5g/L) 1 week after germination.
How to control weeds in polyhouse plant nursery
Timely weeding in the nursery is very important to get the healthy seedling therefore manually removing them or pre-emergence herbicides such as stomp @3ml per liter water must be sprayed on the nursery bed after the seed sowing and covering with the mixture.
Plant protection in polyhouse nursery setup
Adaptation of plant protection measures in the nursery against the occurrence of insect pests and diseases is an important task to obtain healthy seedlings. Damping-off seedlings, leaf curl, leaf blight diseases, and leaf miner and borer infect the seedling in the polyhouse nursery. The care for controlling them from time to time is very essential.
Pests and diseases of plant nursery in polyhouse
- Hygiene has an important role in the control of pests and diseases.
- Use steam or chemical sterilization of the growing media, nursery structures, tools, and trays.
- Effective ventilation and air movement is a sound disease prevention method.
- Understand pests and diseases that will affect the growth of healthy seedlings.
- Care should be taken with the use of pesticides within enclosed areas.
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