The nursery beds may be prepared for ‘bheti’ planting (where from the young plants will be uprooted with soil and transferred to the field), for callusing or rooting of cuttings (wherefrom those will be transferred to the sleeves) or for a sleeve nursery (where the sleeve plants will be kept) only.
Beds for ‘bheti’ planting and for callusing are prepared in similar method. The beds should be prepared at least 6-8 weeks before planting the cuttings.The land should be ploughed well and all un-decomposed woody materials should be removed. During the rains, puddling becomes a problem causing difficulty in preparation of the beds. The nursery beds should be laid out in East-West direction. The length of the beds may be anything depending upon the size and shape of the nursery. However the width of the bed should not be more than 120 cm to facilitate care and maintenance of the cuttings. The beds should be separated from one another by drains preferably 60cm wide and 45-60cm deep. These drains should run into deeper outer drains. The bed surface should be made slightly cambered for quick run-off of rainwater. The soil of the beds should be firm and not loose. The soil surface should be rammed with the back of a hoe or a concrete culvert lightly so that it does not become too compact. About three to four weeks before planting cuttings, these beds should be cleaned off the undecomposed mulch and shade should be erected.
Polythene sleeves or tubes of 15.0 to 17.5cm layflat wide and 25cm long are suitable for planting tea cuttings. For plants to be raised for only one year, 150 gauge recycled polythene tubes are suitable while for long term nursery or for transportation of plants, heavy duty polythene of 200 or 230 gauge may be used. The sleeves should be filled with the soil lightly compacted, at least 6-8 weeks before planting and are kept on the beds under shade. About 0.75kg of soil will be required to fill up one sleeve. The soil gets settled under rainwater or artificial watering and the sleeves should be topped up with loam soil. For sleeve nursery, the standard beds of convenient size are laid out on flat land or following contour on slopes, forming terraces. The bed surface should be cambered slightly and a thin layer of sand or grit may be spread on the surface to support the sleeves with free drainage. A bamboo fence about 20cm high above the ground has to be erected all along the edge of the beds to hold the sleeves upright.