Most keen gardeners find nothing more satisfying than propagating and raising their own plants. Unfortunately, potting up young plants into containers can be expensive and time consuming and will later necessitate constant attention if the plants are to grow successfully, For those with the space, there is a viable alternative – a nursery bed.
Setting up a nursery bed can require some financial outlay and not a little effort but the rewards make it all worthwhile. First and foremost, the nursery bed should be located in a part of the garden that is sheltered from cold winds, and preferably close to a water supply. Ideally, this plot should be in a corner with a hedge, trellis or maybe windbreak netting to protect the young plants from the worst of the weather.
Next, the nursery bed should be laid out. It is best to divide the plot into rectangular plots that are narrow enough for you to lean across comfortably. This avoids the need to be constantly treading on the plot and risking damaging the plants. Don’t forget to make sure that there is enough space between the plots to allow you to walk between them. It is a good idea to raise the plots if possible. Before filling the plot, placing a layer of newspaper in the bottom will deter the growth of any weeds that might be dormant in the ground. The raised plots can be filled with a mixture of grit and loam with a top dressing of peat or compost to provide an excellent growing medium. Raised plots also mean that you don’t have to bend down so far to tend the plants. Old railway sleepers or second-hand bricks both make excellent edging; they are relatively inexpensive, are hardwearing and can be used again and again if you decide to change the layout of your nursery bed.
Your basic nursery bed is now complete. You will find that you will save from not having to purchase containers and there will be no need to buy large quantities of potting mix. Managing your plants will also be less time consuming as plants in a nursery are more self-supporting and require less attention than potted plants. Another advantage is that, being outside, plants are hardened to the weather and suffer less shock when transplanted out so increasing your chances of success.
It is possible to add to your basic nursery bed as time goes by. A simple outdoor sun frame can be made using old bricks with a cover made from an old window frame, or a wooden frame with clear polythene or bubble polythene instead of glass. A simple tunnel frame can also be made using hoops and polythene. And, you can keep birds off by using stakes as a frame over which you can hang bird netting.
You can make your nursery bed as simple or sophisticated as you like. Either way, it will give you immeasurable pleasure and may even help you make a profit from your love of plants.