Today, there are a wide variety of eggplants and growing this vegetable is particularly simple. As such, it can be planted in the ground or in a container on a terrace or balcony. The key to success is simple: just follow the advice relating to the cultivation of this vegetable. Concerning the culinary side, eggplant can be eaten with other vegetables such as courgette, tomato, pickle, peppers, cucumbers and others, but it is less rich in vitamins.

Discovered in Asia, the eggplant is a vegetable that can be used in different dishes. Its particular flavour is enjoyed by many people, which is why it is incorporated in a number of diets.

Overview of the eggplant

There are several species including the F1 bambino eggplant used for stews, the early F1 bambino, of which the shape resembles that of an egg and the 10-inch (25 cm) long baluroi F1 hybrid. This last variety has a deep purple-black colour and may reach 12 inches (30cm) in length. To grow properly, the eggplant needs to be exposed to the sun, just as it should be planted on fertile and well-drained soil.

Standard procedure for growing eggplant

Experts recommend burying two or three seeds in a container at a depth of 3/4 of an inch (2cm). Repeat this operation for all of the containers. As a result, one of these seeds will be able germinate. To maximize chances of success, the earth contained in the pot needs to be rich. Sowing must be conducted between early March and late April, when there is enough sun. The eggplant has a tropical origin, so it grows well in sunny areas. Once the shoots emerge, keep the strongest of the seedlings, which you will permanently plant in a tray or in-ground in a vegetable garden.

Between sowing and transplanting on land, you must let about 3 weeks go by. After this lapse of time, the young shoots are 5 to 6 inches (12 to 15 cm) high, and usually have 3 to 5 leaves. Be especially careful to transplant the seedlings in a sunny location, that is also sheltered from the wind, and on land previously prepared for cultivation. Make rows spaced 20 inches (50 cm) apart from each other and, in each row, plants also need 20-inch (50 cm) gaps between them. Furthermore, know that the eggplant is a plant that needs a lot of water, which is why it must be watered regularly to grow well, even if it already benefits from a substantial amount of rainfall. The eggplant seedling also needs to be fed potash-based liquid fertilizer.

From pruning to harvest

Around June, cut off the tip of the stem, above the second flower from the base. Do this to eliminate lateral offshoots, which will thus limit the fruits of the harvest. You must also plan for a framework that will be used to stake each of the young seedlings in order to prevent them from lying on the ground.

To give the plants more chance for plants to grow, a phytosanitary treatment is required, even under the best atmospheric conditions. Its purpose is to protect the eggplants against diseases and parasites that can harm their health. This is the case, for example, of powdery mildew, a disease caused by fungi of the Ascomycota phylum, and characterized by the appearance of grey dust on the eggplant’s surface. Downy mildew is also a disease caused by fungi and results in the appearance of downy spots on the underside of the eggplant’s leaves. To prevent these diseases and many others, dampen the plants with pyrethrum-based insecticide.

Harvest, meanwhile, begins at the end of July and extends until frost, at which time the temperature drops below 32  degrees (0°C). The harvest usually takes place 5 months after planting, and it is possible to pick up to 8 eggplants per seedling. Do not take too much time to pick them, otherwise they will have a bitter taste.

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Published in Summer vegetables by Alexander on 07 Sep 2011