Q: How is it that when I buy a small plant from a nursery, it usually has a large, leafy top but is in a small pot. I can’t get the plants I start indoors to do the same. What tricks do those in the nursery trade use that I don’t know about?
A: Nursery producers have at their fingertips exquisite research showing exactly how much light, fertilizer and water it takes to produce a salable plant in the shortest time. You can approach their expertise by giving your seedlings a high quality soil mix in which to grow. Place a fluorescent light within six inches of the plant leaves and water as needed with dilute houseplant fertilizer. Build a cold frame (www.gardengatemagazine.com/tips/25tip9.html)(broken link)in which you can place your plants when early spring arrives. You’ll be surprised how much your young plants will resemble those at the nursery.