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Nursery Garden

August 18th, 2016

In previous posts, when I mention that I have a nursery garden, there are always lots of questions about what exactly this is. I figured it deserved a dedicated post, to explain the method to the madness that is my nursery garden. There’s an area in my main vegetable garden that is dedicated to growing out perennials. I have been known to purchase plants without having a place in the borders for them, this is now the spot they get planted as soon as I get home.
nursery garden area 1
Each year, the nursery area grows as I acquire more plants than I have garden space for. Some of these I purchase with a specific spot in mind, but that garden bed isn’t prepared for perennials yet. We have some difficult weeds here that must be completely eradicated before planting new perennials, otherwise the perennials would be choked out in a few years. It’s much easier to deal with invasive weeds when there are no perennials in the garden. My nursery bed is a place where plants can go into the ground while they wait a year or two for their new space to be weed free. They grow out and sometimes reach their mature size. I also like growing out plants in a nursery bed because a new garden area can be filled with mature plants for instant impact.
nursery garden area 2
The nursery bed is also a space where I plant starts I get from other gardens. In this type of garden I can easily see if there are any perennial weed hitchhikers in with the new plants. It’s much easier to deal with them in a nursery bed area than if they are planted directly into a mature garden bed.
nursery garden area 3
Another reason to plant in a nursery bed is to monitor how the plants like your soil and environment. I often purchase one plant and monitor how it grows before deciding to plant in en masse in the garden. This can save you a bundle when decided on a specific cultivar for a hedge. It also gives me an idea of how fast the plant grows and if it has a tendency to become a nuisance as a seeder or spreader. I also like to watch how the plant grows and what shape it takes one, sometimes things grow larger than the tag says they will, sometimes they grow smaller. Growing them out in a nursery bed gives me a better sense of where they need to go in the garden.
nursery garden area
Having a dedicated nursery area also allows me to spend less time managing plants. I’m less likely to forget to water cuttings and small plants if they are all located in one area. For me, it makes sense to keep them all in one area and move them as they mature and as I decide where they would perform best in the garden. My nursery bed area is roughly 500 square feet and it seems to get larger each year. I’m in the process of starting boxwood for a hedge, so it will get bigger before it gets smaller.

Do you have a dedicated nursery area?

8 Comments to “Nursery Garden”
  1. Rebecca on August 18, 2016 at 9:06 am

    This is such a great idea! Do you have any tips for moving them to their final location? Especially if they’ve matured.

    Reply to Rebecca's comment

    • Susy on August 22, 2016 at 12:29 pm

      Dig a big root ball and water well after transplanting. Usually I make a trench around the plant to allow for a deep soaking watering at least once a week during the first season. Then I fill in the trench with compost. Often, a very light liquid seaweed feed will help plants bounce back from transplanting.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  2. Jill on August 18, 2016 at 9:17 am

    I don’t have a dedicated nursery bed yet, Susy, but I definitely need one. This is a great post. Regrettably, I went gung ho in our new yard and put perennials straight into flower beds that are now overrun with quack grass and some thistle in places. Now that we are 3 years in, some of my perennials are crowded and spaced wrong. I don’t think I could have had the patience to leave my yard sit for a whole year while I planned things out, but this is a great approach going forward. Thank you!

    Reply to Jill's comment

    • Susy on August 18, 2016 at 11:54 am

      We have a terrible quack grass infestation here, it’s horrible when it gets into the perennial beds.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  3. Nebraska Dave on August 18, 2016 at 10:10 am

    Susy, what a great idea. It totally makes sense to check out purchased plants before incorporating them into the garden landscape. I will definitely consider having one now that you have enlightened me on the concept. I’m always looking for new things for the garden and you always seem to fulfill that need.

    Today is backyard and backyard garden cleanup.

    Have a great nursery garden day.

    Reply to Nebraska Dave's comment

  4. Jenny on August 18, 2016 at 12:59 pm

    This may be my first comment after years of reading and enjoying. I am diagonally across the country in hot dry Los Angeles, so my gardening concerns don’t always align with yours, but I learn a lot anyway. In fact, yours is the first blog I read every morning so I can begin my day with something beautiful.

    Reply to Jenny's comment

  5. Liz on August 18, 2016 at 3:17 pm

    I have one, and I LOVE it! I use it for all the same things that you use yours for. I have plants that I’ve taken from cuttings in there, plants that I’ve divided and am growing to a larger size before planting elsewhere, and plants I’m just trying out. It is so incredibly useful. My only problem is that when I see a plant I want, I think I should get it because I can always just put it in the nursery garden if I don’t have space for it elswhere. ;)

    Reply to Liz's comment

  6. Charlie@Seattle Trekker on August 24, 2016 at 6:52 pm

    Great idea, I am always in search of good gardening tips.

    Reply to Charlie@Seattle Trekker's comment

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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