No greenhouse? You can still grow tender crops…

If you don’t have a greenhouse, then don’t be put off growing things like tomatoes, aubergines and peppers. These tender crops do much better in warmth, but that doesn’t mean you have to have a greenhouse or polytunnel. Here are a few top tips:

  1. Start warming your soil now, so that come spring when you plant out, the soil temperature in your outdoor beds is a bit higher. You can do this by simply laying black polythene over the soil.
  2. Make sure you plant them in full sun so that they get as much sunlight as possible.
  3. Try to plant your tender crops (tomatoes, aubergines, peppers, chillies, cucumbers, etc) in a well sheltered spot so that they are out of the wind. This will really help as they’ll be a bit warmer.
  4. Use horticultural fleece to keep plants warm. All you need to do is drape it loosely over the plants and secure at the edges/corners so that it doesn’t blow away.
  5. It’s quite easy to build (or buy) a mini polytunnel to be placed over the top of a raised bed. If you avoid tall crops like cordon tomatoes, and stick to bush varieties then this makes a very good solution.
  6. If you are just growing one or two plants, then you can always use a cloche. However, if you’re growing several tender plants then stick to the fleece or mini tunnel as above.
  7. Growing these crops in pots in front of a brick/stone wall can work really well as the wall will reflect heat on into the evening…