Plan Your Nursery Schedule

Part 4 in my Plan Your Growing Season series.

(Part 1 is here, Part 2 is here, Part 3 is here)

Now that you know how much to grow in the field to hit your financial goals, let’s move into your nursery.

In this step you make a plan for all the crops you won’t directly sow outside in the field.

To do this, let”s ask these two questions again:

1 When do you need to start your crops?
2 How much do you need to plant for each crop?

But this time, you’ll be using the decision you made for your field plantings as your starting point.

1 When to seed

The WHEN starts with your field planting date. Count back by how many weeks it takes for your seeds to germinate and grow into a vigorous seedling.

Seed catalogs and farm books have some recommendations for how long a crop should stay in your nursery. Be aware that this duration varies with the size of the cells you’re seeding into.

Trays with 128 cells or more per tray have small cells. When your seedlings are ready to plant they won’t hold for long in cells this size and need to be planted promptly.

Trays with 72 cells or less per tray will let you hold plants in the nursery for longer. This gives you a bigger planting window, and potentially a bigger seedling.

If you have the nursery space, using trays with bigger cells will give you an edge in growing better seedlings.

2 How much to seed

HOW MUCH starts with how many plants you need for the field.

Multiply your bedfeet, the rows per bed for that crop, and your inrow spacing to get the number of plants you need.

For 75 bedfeet of Red Oak lettuce plants at 3 rows per bed on 1 foot spacing, you’ll need 225 Red Oak seedlings.

Then you add another Safety Factor (SF) because not every seed you start grows into a vigorous seedling ready to brave the world. Then, divide by the number of cells in your nursery trays.

To get 225 plants with a 1.3 SF that are started in trays with 128 cells, you’ll need to seed 2.3 trays in the nursery.

Do this for all your transplanted crops and you’ll have a nursery schedule.

Again, a spreadsheet is a wonderful thing when you’re figuring this out.

Now, you only have one more thing to do.

Next, we’ll head to the seed catalogs, and order those seeds!


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