Tender crops such as peppers and aubergines have a reputation for being tricky, but are actually easy to grow. Hailing from the tropics, these plants thrive in warmth and light, so the secret is to give them as much time as possible to get the heat and sunshine they need.
Maximise their growing season by starting them off early and you’re all but guaranteed a bumper harvest. Once they get started, both peppers and aubergines are as easy to grow as tomatoes, and with the most exciting and delicious varieties only available to home growers, they’re well worth a try.
Sow in late winter. Do it it later and the plants will only just be coming into fruit by the end of summer and won’t have time to ripen in the reduced light and falling temperatures of autumn. And although they can all be grown outside once the summer gets going, growing them indoors, in the heat of a greenhouse, will always give a more reliable harvest and a much tastier crop.
It’s a good idea, even in the greenhouse, to go for varieties that have been adapted to cope with our duller, cooler summers. Early-maturing or smaller-fruiting varieties, which need less time to ripen, will increase your chances of getting a good crop before autumn. As a rule of thumb, the hotter the chilli, the longer it will take to ripen, and although there are many types of aubergine, they all taste similar, so choose one with smaller, tender fruits to guarantee a crop.
Here are some chillies, aubergines and peppers that should give you a good, tasty harvest.
Dwarf plants, bred for container growing, which produce flavoursome, bright purple, egg-shaped fruit.
An early variety, which has a reputation for being the most reliable in our climate. Large purple fruit with great flavour.
A really reliable variety that produces a continuous crop of tasty, baby fruit on dwarf plants. See more aubergine varieties.
Compact, bushy plants that produce large crops of small, fiery chillies. Can be grown on the windowsill or on a warm patio.
Chilli ‘Basket of Fire’
Heavy cropping, bushy plants that produce small, fiery chillies that range from cream and yellow to orange, purple and red.
Chilli ‘Pot Black’
A British-bred chilli with purple leaves, flowers and fruit, which is deliciously spicy. Perfect for baskets and containers.
Crisp, small red and orange sweet peppers are produced early. Can be grown outside.
An attractive, bushy plant with large crops of fruit that start green and ripen to yellow.
Easy to grow and high yielding. These little purple peppers turn red at full maturity.