For all of these plants, full sun and a soil rich in organic material will provide the best conditions. Patios, roof spaces or balconies are ideal locations to catch the sun. However, it is important to note that aubergine plants grow best in mild areas or during very good summers. As a result they are better grown in a greenhouse or growing frames during uncertain British summers.
For all three plants, growing from seed and planting out are the same. To grow from seed, fill a pot (ideally 7 to 8 cm deep) with seed compost, and gently firm this down level at the top. Scatter a thin layer of seeds on the top – only sow two or three extra in case of germination failure, as most of the seeds will germinate. Sprinkle a fine layer of vermiculite, and water.
At the propagation stage, you have several choices according to the space and resources you have available. To provide a constant supply of heat, you can use a special heat pad, propagator, or an old electric blanket – or for a more makeshift arrangement, a sill above a radiator or the top of a fridge will provide a temperature which is above room temperature.
You can also cover your pots with a bag. The germination period will vary between 1 and 3 weeks depending on the variety you have chosen. Once the seedlings appear, remove from the heat or the bag, and put your pots on a windowsill.
To avoid the legginess of plants which will stretch up and out towards the light source, you can use artificial lighting – such as a cool white fluorescent light. With care, however, a windowsill or conservatory will be fine. Continue to ensure that the plants do not dry out.
Once complete, it is time to transplant seedlings to their own pots when they reach 2 cm in height – usually with a second set of leaves. Do this carefully, loosening the compost and lifting them out with a dibber. You can use the same size pots – 7 to 8 cm deep – with one seedling per pot.