August 2, 2018

How to grow Aubergines, Chillies & Peppers

Aubergines, Chillies & Peppers

How to grow Aubergines, Chillies & Peppers

Aubergines, chillies and sweet peppers are ideal plants for pots and growing from seed is foolproof. All three of these delicious crops are grown in the same way and there are lots of great varieties to choose from.

Where to grow

Grow plants in pots and place on a sunny patio, balcony or roof space. The process for sowing, germinating and potting on is the same for all three.

What to do

How to sow seeds

  • Fill a 7.5cm pot with seed compost, level and tap to settle. Lightly firm.
  • Scatter the seeds of your chosen variety thinly on top – most seeds germinate so you only need to sow two more seeds than you need in case of losses.
  • Cover with a fine layer of vermiculite, water and label – this is important to help you identify them if sowing several varieties.
  • Pop into a heated propagator or put a clear plastic bag over the top, secure with a rubber band and place on a windowsill.

After germination

  • Your seeds should start to appear in about a week. Remove the pot from the propagator or take off the bag, and place on a light windowsill. Ensure the compost does not dry out.

Potting up seedlings

  • When seedlings are about 2cm tall they can be moved to their own pot. Carefully loosen the compost, then gently hold a leaf and lift, while levering from beneath the roots with a dibber.
  • Fill a 7.5cm pot with multipurpose compost, level and tap to settle.
  • Make a hole in the centre of the compost with a dibber and lower in the seedling, until the leaves are just above the surface of the soil.
  • Gently firm, water and label each plant. Keep plants in a light place, such as a windowsill or greenhouse.
  • When roots show at the bottom of the pots, move into a bigger, 12cm pot, filled with multipurpose compost.

Aftercare

  • When plants reach about 20cm tall give them some support by staking with a small cane or peastick and securing with garden twine.
  • When they’re about 30cm pinch out growing tips to increase branching.
  • At the end of May plants can go outside. Pot them into their final container – a 5-litre pot will do. As the plants grow, swap the small stakes for a larger cane.
  • In hot weather you may need to water twice a day. These plants are incredibly thirsty and dry compost will quickly lead to a check in growth. This applies particularly to plants grown in a greenhouse, where it can get very hot even in late summer.
  • The first flowers will appear when the plants are quite small. When this happens feed weekly with a liquid feed high in potash, such as tomato fertiliser.

Harvesting

  • Fruits can be harvested with scissors or a sharp knife between July and September. Chilli peppers can be picked green or left longer to turn red.
  • Before the autumn frosts, sever the plants completely and hang the branches upside down so the fruit continues to mature.
  • Each aubergine will produce up to five fruits, depending on variety and the weather – pick when they have reached full size and the skin is shiny.

Five to try

Aubergines

  • Violetta Lunga – long purple fruit
  • Red Egg – dumpy red fruit
  • Snowy – cylindrical white fruit
  • Moneymaker – glossy black fruits
  • Rosa Bianca – white and pink fruit

Sweet peppers

  • Big Banana – very long red fruits.
  • Marconi Rosso – sweet, red, Italian heritage variety
  • Fiesta – shiny yellow fruit
  • Bell Boy – thick skinned, green fruit
  • Purple Beauty – purple fruit turn red when mature

Chilli peppers

  • Jalapeno – green fruit turn red
  • Joe’s Long – extra long red fruit
  • Habanero – very hot orange fruit
  • Hungarian Hot Wax – not too hot, yellow fruit turn to red

Cayenne – glossy, red fruit

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