Growing Marrows, Peppers and Aubergines

Vegetable marrows and courgettes (Cucurbita pepo ovifera)

Members of the cucumber family, the vegetable marrows are becoming much more popular as a greenhouse crop, some listed varieties having been specially bred for forcing either in frames, cloches or greenhouses, the small, immature fruits produced being known as courgettes. They are raised in a similar manner to cucumbers by sowing the seed singly in pots from mid-winter onwards, depending on whether heat is to be used for their culture, late-winter sowing in heat being advisable for culture under relatively cool conditions.

Growing Marrows, Peppers and Aubergines The plants are grown to planting stage in 10-13cm (4-5in) pots in John Innes Potting Compost 2 or similar, being fed if necessary to encourage vigorous growth. They are planted 60-90m (2-3ft) apart in either heaps of soil plus well-rotted farmyard manure, or holes in the ground filled with this mixture. If too vigorous growth is noted, the pollination of blooms may not be achieved despite assistance by hand pollination (as for melons). The leading shoots should be pinched out to encourage side growth, which in time is also pinched out and side growth restricted to reasonable levels. Can be trained on nets or allowed to ‘sprawl’.

Vegetable marrows need cool, slow, but frost-free growth, and do not lend themselves to short-season culture. For the amateur gardener with limited growing space it may be better to raise the plants initially under glass and then grow in frames or cloches. Sow seed in late winter for planting in frames during mid-late spring; for outdoor growing sow seed in early spring for planting outside in late or early summer when all risk of frost is past. 

Peppers (Capsicum annuum var. grossum)

Growing Marrows, Peppers asnd Aubergines Peppers, like tomatoes, belong to the family solanaceae and their culture is in many ways similar. Indeed a number of nurserymen previously specializing in tomatoes have become interested in the commercial production of peppers. Many varieties are offered, most of them prolific and several resistant to tomato mosaic virus. 

Cultural details

Seed is sown, as for tomatoes, in John Innes seed compost or soilless equivalents from mid-winter onwards, being germinated at 18.3°C (65°F) and covered by paper or glass. Seedlings are pricked off into 11-12cm (4-1/4in) pots in John Innes potting No 1 or soilless equivalents and given good light and temperatures of a similar regime to that given to tomatoes. They are frequently planted up singly in 20-23m (8 — 9in) pots using John Innes No 2 or soilless compost, although in the latter case liquid feeding must be commenced earlier. Alternatively they can be grown like tomatoes after similar soil preparation or the use of growbags. Support is usually with a combination of canes and string, the plants achieving a height of about 1-1.5m (3-5ft) with a 3-4 stem plant. Strings are run around the stems to stop the plant sprawling. 

Aubergines (Solanum melongena)

These ‘egg plants’ also belong to the Solanaceae. Sow seed in late winter/early spring, following the instructions for peppers above. They do, however, require cooler growing conditions than either tomatoes or peppers, otherwise they do not set too well.


Pick off the fruits when they are the size of a large hen’s egg or, in the case of the longer varieties, when they are about 4 in. long and 2-½ in. across.


Blanche Longue Chine, produces a long white fruit.

Blue King, bears rich, tender round fruits.

Melanzana, produces round red-violet fruits.

Noire de Pekin, produces long, dark violet fruits.


12. April 2011 by Dave Pinkney
Categories: Fruit & Veg, Kitchen Garden | Tags: , , , , , , | Comments Off on Growing Marrows, Peppers and Aubergines


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