Eggplants, peppers and squash need a little nurturing in our climate, writes Janice Marriott.
Peppers, eggplant and squash are sluggish plants that grow slowly over a long season, so the trick is to plant them as early as you can. But they enjoy the warmer weather and don't cope with frost.
Eggplants need five months of warm weather. If you are going to grow them successfully, you need to get them started inside, then transfer the pot outdoors, under a cloche.
Only later in October, when they are sturdy plants, should they be planted out in the garden.
Eggplant is the American name for the aubergine, and aubergines don't have to be purple. Try growing a mauve or a white one. Soak the seed overnight to speed germination. Plant several in a pot somewhere warm and sunny.
When the seedlings are 10cm tall, select the strongest one for transplanting into a bigger pot. Put them outside on a sunny day but bring them in at night.
When the seedlings have been successfully transplanted into the late-spring garden, sprinkle a little potash around. It helps the plants form fruit. Then stand back and think of a summer grill with golden slices of aubergine on it.