Two Gardens in One
A nursery bed is like a magic trick--allowing you to harvest twice as much from your space.
Most gardeners now recognize that having a steady supply of cool-weather veggies through fall and winter is just as important as the summer garden. But where can you put all of those fall vegetables?
Many people wait until tomatoes and corn are over, so they have enough space--but by then it is too late and the plants never size up before the winter days get short.
Using a nursery bed is a trick that can give you two gardens at once--your summer garden still in the ground, and your winter garden waiting its turn. Because the plants in the nursery bed are young, they are spaced closer than they will be later, so they take much less garden space.
How to Make It
A nursery bed is just a piece of ground cultivated to a crumbly texture so that seedlings can grow well. Add compost, which contains substances that trigger germination and growth. Your nursery bed can be an unused bed in the regular garden, a raised box made of wood or blocks, or even a large tub. In hot-summer climates, afternoon shade is good, so either site it to the east of something tall--like a house, shed, or row of corn--or use shade netting.
How to Use It
You can use a nursery bed, or part of it, for starting seeds instead of in flats or pots. But where it really shines is to hold seedlings that are too large for the flat or pot and in danger of getting potbound. At that stage, when they are too big for their pots, summer crops are normally planted into their permanent places. In the case of winter crops, though, those places are already occupied by summer crops that we don't want to disturb. Instead, put them into a nursery bed, where they can grow until early fall. It turns out that many winter crops like cabbage and broccoli actually do better if they are transplanted a couple of times. Since they will be transplanted the final time when the weather is getting cold, mulch them immediately so they have warm moist soil to make a good root system.
Here's a step-by-step example:
7/30/2022 06:58:13 pm
8/1/2022 05:07:03 pm
I'm doing it! Wonder why the cabbages like to be transplanted twice? Root activity?
8/1/2022 09:29:09 pm
It's great to see people responding and using the information. I have not seen this mentioned in garden books in the US, but many British books and YouTube channels about gardening will show a "brassica holding area" or a "leek holding area" in the garden.
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