In Summary
  • A nursery bed should not be more than a metre in width for ease in accessing the seedlings and the number of seeds to be sowed determines the length.
  • At least 1-5 grammes of seeds should be sowed per square metre to avoid overcrowding, but this depends on the crop and the variety.
  • The seeds should then be covered lightly and mulching done to prevent splash erosion. One should also use mulching materials from a reliable source to prevent the introduction of pests and diseases.
  • Hardening off is done to allow the seedlings to adapt to the environmental conditions in the open field hence reducing the transplanting shock and loss.

The other day a farmer from Narok narrated how he was incurring losses due to poor germination rate of his seedlings.

He said he had bought half a kilo of onion seeds at Sh12,000 and had expected to grow them on a half-acre.

However, he ended up with seeds that only fitted a quarter-acre due to low germination rate.

The rate of survival after transplanting the seedlings was also too low, with many of them dying due to the shock.

His predicament is shared by many farmers as proper seed management at the nursery poses a big challenge.

To begin with, good nursery management practices start with selecting an ideal site that is secure, with a slightly sloppy land to encourage drainage.

The site should also be near a water source for watering the seedlings. The soil should also be fertile and consider the previous crop to prevent the spread of pest and diseases.

While preparing the nursery site, consider the environmental conditions. In highlands, have a raised bed to encourage aeration and drainage while in dry areas, a sunken bed is ideal since it allows the conservation of soil moisture and prevents the seedlings from being affected by the wind.

A nursery bed should not be more than a metre in width for ease in accessing the seedlings and the number of seeds to be sowed determines the length.

The bed is prepared by clearing the land, double digging to break the hardpans and to remove the stumps and roots.

Well-rotten manure is then added at a rate of 2kg per metre square and it should then be thoroughly mixed with the soil. Levelling is then done and furrows of 2cm deep and 15-20cm apart made across the bed.

At least 1-5 grammes of seeds should be sowed per square metre to avoid overcrowding, but this depends on the crop and the variety. The seeds should be sowed singly in intervals of at least 2cm that makes an average of 50-60 seeds per furrow.

However, before sowing the seeds, the farmer should first calculate the number of seedlings he requires to avoid over or under-sowing.

Page 1 of 2