Hello and welcome to The Compost Bin. I'm Compostwoman and I live with my family in rural Herefordshire. We have nearly four acres of garden and woodland, all managed organically and to Permaculture principles, which we share with Chickens, Cats and assorted wildlife. We also grow a lot of our own food, run courses in all sorts of things and make a lot of compost!

I am a Master Composter and have spent more than a decade as a volunteer Community Compost adviser with Garden Organic and my local Council.
I'm a self employed Environmental Educator so I run workshops and events where I talk about compost, veg growing, chicken keeping, cooking, preserving and sustainable living. I also run crafts workshops and Forest School/outdoor play sessions in our wood.

We try to live a more self sufficient lifestyle here, as best we can, while still having a comfortable life and lots of fun.

To learn more about us click on the About Compostwoman tab and remember to click on the photos to make them full size!

Sunday 15 March 2009

Growing tomatoes, peppers and aubergines.

The next in my series of "request" posts on how I plant seeds and things :-)

Raising plants to transplant outdoors (or under cloches or in a greenhouse/ tunnel) gives you a head start on the season. It is simple to provide extra warmth for a few pots and trays of seeds - in a warm room, or on a heated bench for example.

But remember - the seedlings that appear will also need some warmth and good light levels, until they can be moved to a frost free final position, so allow for where you are going to keep them. This is especially the case with pepper, tomato and aubergine plants as they will need a warm place to live!

I have had a lot of success with putting moderate sized tomato plants inside a cold frame inside an unheated polytunnel during April and this would work just as well inside a conservatory or a plastic small greenhouse I think.

I have recently been sowing tomatoes, sweet peppers and aubergine (egg plant for US friends) seeds in modules which have been germinating in my heated propagators in the porch. The porch is double glazed but unheated so can get cold at night! It is west facing though so gets the sun in the afternoon and makes a good place to set up "mission control" seed growing central!

I now have 3 electric heated propagators, each of which will hold 4 of the 6 celled seed modules. I have slowly gathered these over the last 20 years, they ARE expensive and I had two as gifts and the third was a sale bargain as it had a slightly damaged lid (!) BUT they are invaluable to me to help raise early plants, as I do not (YET) have a greenhouse to do this in. ( I have a greenhouse in BITS, and have had it for 6 years but it is not yet put together in a usable condition..maybe next year?0

I sow the sweet peppers and aubergine seeds first as they take longer to germinate than tomatoes (the peppers especially) I usually can move the seedlings out of the heated propagators and into unheated mini greenhouse trays after 10 days or so, and then I can sow more seeds in modules and put them in the empty space in the propagator...

I also sow herbs and salad seeds in unheated mini greenhouse windowsill trays and they give me an early start to the summer salads!

I do have salads over winter in the polytunnel BUT we don't tend to want to eat much salad in the winter in our household!

Sweet Pepper seeds

Sow on surface of growing medium them cover with about as much growing medium as the length of the seed.



and place in heated propagator,

seed germinated in 9 days...if in unheated propagator ( tray with some sort of cover) it will take longer...)

I have been sowing recently inside in my heated propagator in the same way as the pepper seeds, tomato, hot pepper and aubergine (egg plant)seeds.

Tomatoes/Peppers/Aubergines - for growing on in a cold greenhouse or tunnel
during the March waxing moon.


  1. We assembled our walk in plastic fantastic greenhouse today (well, we are cheap LOL) Do you think it will be alright for our seedlings? I have just been outside, it's 11pm, and it feels quite warm.


  2. I would use additional protection for your seeds inside the greenhouse. It gets too cold for seedlings inside my porch, which is effectively a double glazed unheated greenhouse with glass....

    Do you have any cloche covers? or plastic bottles over the top ?

    at a pinch, cling film will do until the seedlings get bigger....

  3. I certainly wouldn't sow seeds in my polytunnel which were tender at the mo...toms, aubergines etc...they need 20 degrees centigrade to germinate ( constant) so however warm it is in the day it will be too cold at night...) inside to get the seedlings going , then in your new greenhouse but inside a cover/cloche/ some kind of protection....

  4. I sowed eggplant seeds last week, and have had no signs of sprouting up. They are in seed pods, about 68* temperature, very sunny spot, covered dome, no heat. Do you have any ideas on how to help them along? Or is it just a matter of time?

  5. I love your setup and I am envious. I hear the others talking of more heat. Would a heat lamp work? I wouldn't know. You've been added to my cool blog roster of the week. :)

  6. Oooh! I love growing peppers. Possibly due to the fact that I find them quite easy to grow compared to other things. My toms have done well too. But my eggplant has performed miserably this summer. The flowers keep dropping off, rather than forming eggplants. It could be a mildew problem.

  7. This is wonderful information. Thanks for the idea to use the cold frame and tunnel.

    You might have mentioned it and I missed it, can you tell me what you are using for "soil" I'm sure it has an official name other than starting soil.

    If I were to use an electric heat pad rather than the sprouting pads you have do you think if I kept it on low it would be to hot?

    A couple more weeks and it will be time to start mine. The last of the seed order came in over the weekend.

    Your a sweetie and thanks for holding my hand while I work through this. :)
    Lots of great ideas, I have always just tossed seeds into the little pots and hoped for the best.


  8. Right, have just taken a break from planting outside... to have a look at your comments :-)

    Karyn stuff you sow seeds into is called seed or potting compost or growing medium over here in the UK....

    Hot Belly Mama I really don't know if a heat lamp would work...seeds like a gentle underneath warmth to get the soil warmed and a lamp would be heat from above I guess? but you could try it?

    Karyn Electic heat pad..hmm the seeds need to be in an ambient temperature of 20-22 centigrade, I will measure the soil temp in my hot boxes and get back to you all...

    Livingginalocalzone....I would have patience..mine took 2 weeks...aubergines take longer I find than peppers or tomatos...

    Are they warm and moist enough?

  9. Not sure if this would be helpful or not but farmers around here place their seed beds on top of the fridge because its not only warmer near the ceiling but the fridge keeps the bottom warm.. they remove them as soon as they sprout so they can give them more light.
    I've been enjoying your posts about seed starting.. full of good idea's for sure.. thanks

  10. Thats a good idea Pat!

    I have measured the temperatures in one of my heated propogators..

    The inside base of the box is at 36 centigrade, the soil temp at the bottom of a pot is 28 centrigrade and the air temp above the soil is 24 centigrade...

    so that should tell you if your heating pad is too hot or cold...

    I think a heat lamp wouldn't work as it would be the wrong temp gradient.....ie too hot in the air....

    Hope this helps everyone, I will add it to my post I think!

  11. hello all

    I figured it would be a good idea to introduce myself to everyone!

    Can't wait to get to know you all better!


    Thanks again!

  12. hiya

    Just saying hello while I read through the posts

    hopefully this is just what im looking for looks like i have a lot to read.


Hello! Thank you for reading my blog and for commenting. I try to reply as quickly as I can and I really appreciate your interest in my life and doings here in The Compost Bin.