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How to establish Vegetables on a Nursery

There are Several way in which you can establish vegetable nurseries for your farm. Here are a few ways you can do it.

  • Seed beds

How to prepare seed bed

Make a raised bed that is 1m wide and a convenient length depending on the scale of seedlings production. Water the bed and cover it using grass or straws for 3 days, then burn the grass/straw to sterilize the soil. Cover the bed with black polythene sheet for a few weeks to sterilize the soil.

Make shallow furrows, water and sow the seeds on the bed after watering. Cover the bed using dry grass and remove once the seedlings start emerging.

  • Seed trays.

How to sow seeds on seed trays

  • Treat cocopeat (used as the growing media)
  • Fill coco peat in the seed trays
  • Level the media using hands or flat board
  • Water the media
  • Drill seeds singly in the tray holes

NB: Cocopeat should be properly be treated as failure to which it can lead to germination failure up to 100%.

  • Seed boxes.

Boxed that are wooden with polythene lining and soil put inside the box. Used to raise seedlings on small scale.

Reasons for raising seeds on nursery

  • Nurseries allow transplanting of the healthy and vigorous growing seedlings.
  • It’s easy to carry out management practices on the nursery than in the main seedbed during early stages of crop development.
  • Allows production of many seedlings on a small space.
  • Excess seedlings from the nursery can be sold to earn extra income.
  • It allows easy calculation of germination percentage of a give vegetable variety.
  • Reduces the time taken by the crop in the main seed bed.

Where to site your nursery

  1. Near water source to ease watering labor.
  2. Shaded area to minimize water loss through evaporation.
  3. Should face East-West to allow enough light for seedling growth.
  4. Site nursery where the vegetable in question has not being grown for the last two seasons to avoid pest and diseases associated with particular vegetable families.
  5. Site nursery in a secured place to avoid theft and seedlings damage by animals
  6. Away from roads and factories due to the effects of dust and smoke effects on plants.
  7. Areas free from erosion.
  8. Well drained and fertile soils.
  9. Soils/growth media free from soil borne pests and diseases.
  10. Should be sited at least 50m away from the vegetable fields to avoid pests and diseases that might be in the man seed beds.

Nursery management practices


Should be done twice in a day, early in the morning and late in the evening. Avoid too much water as this causes damping off.

Weed management

Keep the nursery weed free all the time, weeds can be controlled by uprooting or chemical means (herbicides such as herbkill or any other selective herbicide).

Hardening off

It’s done in order to help the plants adapt to the environmental factors that prevail in the main seed bed. Achieved by reducing the watering intervals and shade reduction.

NB: Hardening off should be done gradually to avoid stressing the plants as this may lead to poor crop performance.

Pest managements

Leaf miners: Destroy plant leaves through mining, spray with a suitable insecticide eg Cyroguard.

Cut worms: They cut the seedlings at the base; use broad spectrum insecticide such as cyroguard.

Caterpillars: Spray with suitable insecticide such as cyroguard, duduthrin, karate etc

White flies: Spray using suitable insecticide eg karate, Alpha 10 EC etc

Aphids: Spray suitable insecticide. Broad spectrum chemical such as karate, duduthrin etc

Root knot nematodes: The pest feed on plant roots hindering water and nutrient uptake, this result to wilting, yellowing or death of the plants. Can be controlled through soil drench with nematechs (bio-nematicide), nematin or any other suitable nematicide.

Disease management

Damping off: Thin overcrowded seedlings, avoid dampness in the nursery. Spray with copper based fungicide.

Transplanting seedlings

Seedlings should be transplanted when they attain 10-15cm height, or when they attain 3-5 true leaves.

Should be done early in the morning or late in the evening. Water the nursery before transplanting the seedlings, this allow easy lifting of seedlings and minimize root destruction. Ensure that the lifted seedlings have rump of soil or growth media with roots intact, such seedlings will establish and fast in the main seedbed.

     Transplanting procedure

  • Dig planting holes in the main seedbed
  • Lift seedlings with a lump of soil around the roots
  • Transport the seedlings to the planting site avoiding any damage
  • Plant the seedlings in the planting holes at the same depth as they were in the nursery exception of tomatoes which prefer deep planting
  • Place soil around the root collar and press using fingers to keep it upright and expel air
  • Water the plants gently and then mulch using dry grass to conserve moisture
  • Keep records from the transplanting date

What do you think?

Written by Kenya Farmers


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