Seedling nursery


The original ‘nursery’ consisted of tyres piled three-deep into two horseshoe shapes facing each other.  This worked excellently compared to… well, nothing.  And ‘nothing’ doesn’t do a very good job of stopping gale-force winds from decimating seedlings and plants.  The tyres, filled with manure when the ‘walls’ were constructed, gradually began to host flowers and veggies.  After aphids repeatedly held raging food orgies under the leaves of nasturtiums and other plants, and also after ‘moderate’ success germinating seeds in these tyre parabolas, the question arose, is the tyre-nursery in need of an upgrade?

An intermediate step from old to new nursery confirmed that it was indeed time: the germination rate was low when seed trays were kept under the shed roof in an attempt to find a new home for seedlings.  The tyre-area was too hot and exposed, while the only area under the shed appropriate for trays was too shady

An elaborate plan was formulated, which involved (expensive) pvc pipe arcs secured to short poles dug into the ground, but this plan never came anywhere near fruition – plans rarely do!  Instead, materials kept presenting themselves as the obvious choices, the main one being a massive piece of discarded greenhouse plastic from a nursery closing down in the area.  It needed scrubbing, and in the end it survived unscathed from a desire to turn it into a massive run-and-dive-water-slide-runway.  Dimensions were considered, poles were cut from the alien vegetation around the plot and smoothed so as not to puncture the plastic, and cable ties and shade-cloth and staple-gun staples bought from the hardware store.

The tyres contained quite a lot of compost; this came out of the tires far more easily than getting it into them, especially considering that when going in, the horse-poo was fresh and it was fly season; the flies stuck around for weeks after construction!  Now, the compost was incorporated into summer vegetable beds.

As for the design of the A-frame rectangular arrangement of poles, the pictures should mostly speak for themselves.  The plastic is the right height to protect the seedlings from winds, while care was taken to leave a gap all around the bottom and top of the plastic component of the ‘wall’ for airflow; this is so that, on the rare windless midsummer day, the nursery doesn’t get hot enough to cook the contents therein, though roast baby veg is rather nice…

Vertical poles were dug fairly deeply into the ground, and the horizontal poles rest on top of the vertical poles.  Pilot holes were drilled for the long nails, which hold the structure solidly together.  The poles were treated with waxol, the plastic attached to the poles (waxol evidently does not dry out, so the plastic boasted oily smears for a while), and the shadecloth cable-tied in place.  Long tables were made out of ‘scrap’ hardwood, and these hold the seedling trays (there is nothing wrong with wonky tables, okay!).

So far so good.  The relentless, sadistic winds have not won the weekly battles with the plastic, which was the main aspect of the nursery that was questionable.  The germination of seedlings is notably much better, though it would be hard to attribute this to the amount of light in the new set-up or rather to the availability of the user-friendly space; no doubt a combination of the two.  All in all, the hammering-sawing-chopping-digging-painting was well worth it; it took a while, however, for a certain right shoulder to be convinced though!