TREE NURSERY MANAGEMENT
A tree nursery is a place, on the farm or away from it, where tree seedlings are bred and grown to a desired, usable size. Seedlings grown in a nursery are more likely to survive than seeds sown directly.
Location of tree nursery
The following factors determine the location of a nursery on a farm:
- Reliable water supply
- Accessibility and near the farm.
- Availability of good soils.
- Protection from strong wind, direct sunlight (shade) and livestock.
- Gentle slope for water drainage.
- Area free for expansion
Nursery Soil Preparation
Nursery soil should be fertile and well-drained. It should also be collected from some identified part of the farm such as under some trees or along the fence since it is here that most of the core soil nutrients are stored. Before digging topsoil for nursery use, clear the surface to remove all plants and litter. Dig using a hoe and then sieve the soil to remove undesirable materials such as stones and sticks. Mix two portions of the sieved soil with one portion of sand and one portion of manure. This is the soil to use for the next step, potting.
Potting is the process of putting soils into the containers or bags for the purpose of raising and protecting seedlings to maturity.
The time for sowing a specific type of seed depends on the time it takes to attain plantable size, this takes normally 1-3 months depending on tree species. It is important that seeds are sown in time to attain plantable sizes 20-30 cm length by the onset of the rainy season. Seed can either be sown directly into potting material or in transplant beds. Fine and light seeds such as Casuarina, Grevillea Robusta, Markhamialutea, Prunusafricanaare sown in transplant beds and later pricked out into potting containers after germination. It is important that fine seeds are mixed with sand and uniformly spread on the seed bed to avoid overcrowding as overcrowding leads to diseases. Do not sow the seed too deep in the soil as this is likely to affect seed germination.
After planting, treatment such as shading, watering, and weeding are required for maximum result.