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Greenhouse Crops

Some popular fruiting plants need greenhouse protection in cold areas. Aubergines, cucumbers, peppers and some tomatoes will all thrive in containers and produce bumper crops in the additional heat.

Which are the best sorts of tomato for greenhouse growing?

In a greenhouse, it is best to grow cordon types that are trained into an upright plant on strings or canes, rather than bush types that sprawl 
on the ground.

How do I grow cucumbers?

Harvest tomatoes as they ripen on the
vine. The skins should be evenly red.

F1 hybrid varieties are the best to use, as they produce only female flowers. Fruits that are fertilized by male flowers are bitter tasting. Sow individual seeds into 8cm (3in) pots in early spring, then transplant the seedlings about eight weeks later into 30cm (12in) pots. You will need to erect something for them to climb up, for example, bamboo canes at an angle, or wires or strings attached to the greenhouse roof. Nip out the main growing shoot after five or six leaves have appeared and attach the shoots to the support.

How do I grow bell peppers?

Several different types of pepper can be grown in the greenhouse, including chilli peppers and sweet peppers. They need a minimum temperature of 12°C (54°F) to grow properly, so are ideal for growing undercover. Sow the seed indoors in mid-spring in 8cm (3in) pots and keep at a temperature of 6–21ºC (60–70ºF) until germinated. When they are well developed, transplant the seedlings into 20cm (8in) pots. As sweet peppers ripen, they change colour from green to red, yellow, orange or dark purple, and become sweeter. Let hot chilli peppers ripen fully before harvesting; they should be a bright even red.

How do I grow aubergines?

Aubergines, or eggplants, need a lot of warmth to do well. Sow individual seeds in 8cm (3in) pots in early spring. Soak the seeds in warm water for a day before sowing to speed up germination. Transplant the seedlings into 20cm (8in) pots when 10cm (4in) tall, and pinch out the growing tips to encourage bushiness. Support the growing plants with canes.

What is a tomato house?

If you have no room for a greenhouse it is possible to grow them in a tomato house. These occupy limited ground space – usually enough to hold a couple of growing bags or large containers – but are tall enough (up to around 1.2m/4ft) to house the fully grown plants. They should be attached to a warm wall. Most are made of glass, perspex or clear plastic. Some models have shelves, which means that they can be used for other plants. At the end of the season use them for overwintering cuttings and other young plants.