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You’ve heard of raised beds and garden beds, but what about nursery beds?
Nursery beds are the perfect place for that “just couldn’t pass it up” seedling, the gift plant with no permanent location, sale priced plants that you haven’t had time to work into your regular garden or landscape, or it can be used as a quarantine station. These are all plants that may need a little extra care or attention, as they settle in.
Maintaining a nursery bed takes up very little time or space, but it can save you a lot of money on plants.
What is a nursery bed?
A nursery bed may simply be a plot of ground, tucked away in a corner of the yard. It may be a slightly raised area, walled in with cinderblocks or scrap lumber. Nursery beds do not have to be pretty. They simply need soil, water, and sunlight. If you want to get fancy, you can add corner posts to support protective netting or shade cloth. Again, looks are not important.
Start seeds in a nursery bed
Vegetable seeds can be started in a nursery bed, and grown there until they are big enough for transplanting. This is an excellent tool for succession planting. As you wait for the current crop to wind down, your next season’s crop is already on its way! Nursery beds are also a great place to start plants that can be used to fill empty spots as they occur. As a tomato plant gives up the ghost, simply cut it off at ground level and install a cheery chrysanthemum in its place! Viola!
Transplant recovery in a nursery bed
Most gardeners feel frustrated by thinning young seedlings. A nursery bed offers the perfect place to put the removed seedlings, allowing them a chance to recover from the ordeal and, possibly, grow to a large enough size to be moved elsewhere, or gifted to a friend or neighbor.
Propagating with a nursery bed
If you want to try you hand at vegetative propagation, nursery beds provide an easy starting point for cuttings and divisions, allowing them time to recover and to develop new roots before being moved to more permanent locations. Nursery beds also provide a good location to start parent plants that will ultimately be divided into many smaller plants (for a tiny fraction of the cost of buying all mature plants).
Nursery beds for hardening off
Delicate seedlings may need a transitionary period before they can handle being planted in the garden. With the addition of shade cloth or old glass windows, cold frame style, you can give these babies a taste of the great outdoors without exposing them to more than they can handle.
How to make a nursery bed
While you want your nursery bed to be convenient to the rest of the garden (and a hose bib), it can easily be tucked away behind a shed or some shrubs, as long as it gets at least 6 to 8 hours of sunlight each day, and is relatively level. Being sheltered is actually a bonus for a nursery bed, as it helps block strong winds.
Use these steps to create your own nursery bed:
Nursery beds are different from raised beds in that they are designated as an unplanned, layover location, rather than a permanent home.
Finally, if you have a nursery bed set up and know that you won’t be using it for a while, it makes a great place to age compost. The nutrients left behind will be exactly what all those baby plants need to thrive!
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