Cultivation of eggplants

How to grow eggplants

Eggplant cultivation tips

Eggplant characteristics

Photo of eggplant (Solanum melongena L.) with a fruit

Eggplant or aubergine belong to the plant family of Solanaceae. It is a herb from 30 to 70 cm high .

Stems erect and hairy.

Leaves entire, pubescent gray-green oval with the presence of spikes in the vein of the same.

Flowers purple up to 4 cm in diameter, solitary or clustered in groups with chalice covered with bristles.

Eggplant fruits are berries usually elongated, purple color with white bands, although we find very different varieties of color, even color completely white or completely black varieties. Its size can reach over 30 cm but there are varieties that produce very small fruits that do not exceed 2 cm in length.

Its origin is usually located in Southeast Asia. Some will focus it in India.

Today, it is cultivated in most regions of the world.

Varieties or classes of eggplants

Among the most interesting varieties we can mention the following:

Early varieties or classes of eggplants

  • Black beauty : It produces abundant fruits, greattasting, black bright purple. It fruits very early so it has great advantages when selling.
  • Black prince : Even earlier than the one before and very dark.
  • Long purple : It is also an early variety with tasty dark purple fruits.
  • Black barbentane : It many bright black fruit early as 30 cm in length.
  • Moneymaker : One of the early varieties with best flavor.
  • Thai Long Green (Long green of Thailand): From Thailand, it fits very well in temperate climates of Europe or America. It produces fruit and long curved pale green very attractive. Its flesh is creamy white and very soft. (Eastern varieties have thin skins and meat softer than the American varieties)

Half early Varieties

  • Rotonda bianca sfumata di rosa (Round white faded pink): it produces rounded fruits of white with pink accents, ages 12 and 15 cm in diameter.
  • “Listada” from Gandía: It produces fruits whitish with purple bands, oval-rounded. Its pulp is white and tasty.

Varieties for cold climates:

  • Diamond Eggplant (Aubergine diamond) from Ukraine, produces mild-flavored eggplant and dark purple with a length of between 15 and 20 cm. The meat is very soft and no bitter. It is a very productive plant
  • Bonica (Pretty) very vigorous plant that produces fruit black or very dark purple oval between 12 and 17 cm. It is a very productive variety, ideal for difficult weather locations. You can stand very well in containers to protect the inside and get outside when the weather is milder.

Eggplants – irrigation

Eggplants need an abundant irrigation. They must be watered especially during the time when the fruits grow so that they have a proper development. During the warmer seasons, it is estimated that every day these plants need a quantity of approximately six liters of water per m 2.

Eggplants are suitable for growing in pots or containers. In this case we must bear in mind that watering should be very abundant and consistent so that the pot does not dry. It is important that the pot has good drainage underneath so the water does not accumulate in the roots.

Eggplants – uses

Eggplant is a plant that is cultivated for its fruits

Eggplants – environment and exposure

Photo of eggplant where the plant, leaves and a fruit can be appreciated.

Eggplants are plants of tropical and subtropical origin. They require a sunny position, requiring 10-12 hours per day. If grown in warm climates , they grow as perennials. If grown in cold areas should be grown as annuals. (In the latter case, eggplants produce fruit until the cool fall stops growing or when the plant has exhausted its reserves)

In cold places it is better to grow them in the greenhouse . The ground is frozen when the temperature reaches 0 degrees C and stops growing when it is between 10 and 12 ºC or when it is above 40 or 50 degrees C. In warmer places its cultivation is done outdoors.

In temperate locations, they will require exhibition well protected, next to a sunny wall.

The lack of light in the eggplants produced an exaggerated increase of the plant that adopts an elongated and lanky shape. In low light, this plant produces virtually no flowering and the fruit produced does not have a good aspect or a pulp of good quality.

What is the ideal climate for eggplants?

The ideal temperature for cultivation is centered on 22 and 27 º C during the day and 17-22 º C overnight. The ideal temperature for flowering is between 20 and 30 º C. Although it is a plant belonging to the same family as tomatoes or peppers, it needs much more a high temperature to be able to grow and to produce abundant fruits.

In order to be able to grow, they need a minimum temperature among 13 and 15 ºC

Although the eggplants need an abundant irrigation, they do not tolerate a very high or very dry environmental humidity.

The suitable humidity range would be between 50% and 60%. The excess of humidity or an excessive dryness of the atmosphere can be the main cause of numerous fungal diseases, as well as of the lack of development or the fall of the flowers.

Eggplants – Sowing and planting

Eggplants are obtained from seeds. Eggplant seeds can be stored for five or six years.

Sowing has to be done in late winter (in cold areas protect the seeds) or early spring, about late March or early April (Sow outdoors in warmer places)

Before doing it , it is necessary to put the seeds in water at a temperature of about 21 ºC. This facilitates germination.

Put the seeds in pots to be kept under cover at a temperature between 18 and 20 ºC. A drawer in a greenhouse or a windowsill is the perfect place to get them to germinate and grow seedlings, which usually requires about 25 or 30 days or so.

How to transplant eggplants

When seedlings have reached a sufficient size to be manipulated, they must be transplanted to small pots that have to be placed under protection in warm climates.

When these plants reach about 10 cm in height shall be transplanted to their final place, where environmental conditions are appropriate.

If weather is cold, final planting will not take place until the soil has warmed. To facilitate their heating, you can cover the ground with cloches a few days before planting. In hot do not need to be careful.

Plantation was carried out on rows 60 cm apart from each other. Each plant is placed in the middle of distant ridge between 50 and 70 cm from the next plant.

cultivation Eggplants – Types of soil: preparation and fertilization

Eggplants prefer fertile and deep soil, fitted with good drainage. They do not tolerate clay soils that facilitate the accumulation of water in their roots and are responsible for decay and development of many diseases, although it thrives very well with clayey-sandy.

Their favorite pH is 6.5 but they may thrive at a pH of 7. Saline soils must be avoided.

Before planting we must prepare the land. This task is performed in winter. We will remove the soil well for this can be well shredded. During this task we will provide the manure that would be very necessary for good production. An approximate amount of 450 kilos per 100 m 2 would be appropriate.

To this amount of manure, we should add 500 g of nitrogen, 1300 g of phosphorus and 2700 g of potassium per 100 m 2.

In addition to this basal dressing, it would desirable to fertilize two or three times during its entire productive process, with a quantity of 350 g of nitrogen in each application for each 100 m2 in February.

Eggplants grown in pots, do better in a light soil made from a mixture of sand and peat.

eggplant cultivation

Summary drawing about the cultivation of eggplant. By courtesy of ©

spade Eggplant-Care

Among the main tasks of maintenance, we can mention the following:

  • Staking: Like most vegetables, eggplant should be guided on rods, ribbons or other guardians to rise above ground and not to be subjected to moisture problems. On the other hand, placing the fruits and leaves most high allows plants to have greater ventilation. Eggplants should be tied to canes from the main stems when they reach 60 cm in height. We need to review either side shoots as they grow to tie these to them.
  • Elimination of leaves: It is important to remove diseased or dried leaves and the excess of inner and lower leaves. This provides better ventilation, a greater amount of light and greater ease of collection and treatment of the fruit. It is important to perform this task during the days of low humidity and before watering, when the soil is somewhat dry. Otherwise, the wounds of the cuts could become infected.
  • Pinching: when they reach 60 or 70 cm, trim the tops to encourage lateral development and give them a bushy appearance.
  • Thinning of the fruit: It is important to clarify the fruits to avoid excessive fruiting, which would limit their size and quality. Usually tend to leave a maximum of five fruits per plant. Remove excess flowers, leaving only about 5 at the time that the fruit begins to swell.
  • Weeding: The work of removing weeds is very important to prevent these consuming cultivation resources, such as water and nutrients. This work can be done manually or by means of herbicides.
  • Maintaining soil moisture: Soil should be watered when needed. One way to ensure that soil moisture is more constant is padding it.

aubergine drawing Eggplants – Harvesting and conservation

The fruit harvesting is done between 110 or 170 days after sowing, when fruits are mature without being too old . This can be known because they have a shiny and smooth, with full color and smooth texture . If you pick them green, they will not have any flavor, whereas, if passed, they will become bitter.

At the time of picking-up, we must take into account that they are delicate fruits, very sensitive to shocks or abuse. Any impact is manifested by the appearance of skin spots.

Eggplants should be collected by hand, cutting with a sharp tool and clean it, leaving a free stalk a couple of fingers. Once cut, they will be stored in boxes, properly protected with paper backing and with the stems upward.

How to store and preserve eggplants?

Before taking them to market, they can be kept in cold storage for a week or week and a half at a temperature of about 4 or 5 degrees C.

At home they can be frozen in the refrigerator.

medicinal Eggplants – Pests and diseases:

The main pests that affect the eggplants are almost the same as those that affect tomatoes, that is to say:

  • Lined click beetle
  • Aphids
  • Mildiu
  • Powdery mildew
  • Anthracnose
  • Cucumber mosaic virus
  • Tobacco mosaic virus
  • Virus Y of the potato
  • Virus X of the potato

In addition to these diseases, we should also consider the following:

  • Etiolation: This occurs due to lack of light accompanied by a humidity too high during the growth phases. This plant produces very developed, lack of flowers and fruit deformity.
  • Potato beetles: (Leptinotarsa decemlineata) they are beetles about 10 mm, characterized by the 4 yellow background black bands covering their elytra. The larvae have a round shape and orange. Both larvae and adults eat the leaves of the plants on which they live (mainly of potatoes, but also other plants of the same family as tomatoes or peppers).

To control them, insecticides or other more environmentally friendly procedures can be used, such as collection of adult beetles or the use of modified genes from the bacterium Bacillus thuriengiensis.

In the latter case, the Bt gene of this bacterium is modified to incorporate into the plant. Once the genetically modified Bt gene, the plant develops toxins that are ingested and attack the predator’s digestive system which is designed for without affecting other creatures, including humans.

Ecological insecticide to treat eggplant diseases and pests

The following ecological recipe can be very suitable to treat most of your eggplants problems:

Treatment against garden pests with garlic

spray the plants with garlic against the pestsYou need 1 head of garlic (50g aprox.) And 5 liters of water.

Chop the garlic and let it marinate in 5 liters of water for about 1 week, in the fridge. Then the mixture is strained.

Dilute in half: 1 liter of mash with 1 liter of water.

Place in a container to spray on the plants. It is effective against most pests and fungal diseases, aphids, spider mites, etc.

punto rojo More information on eggplant.

This article was endorsed by Julián Masats - Technical agricultural engineer specialized in horticulture and gardening.
Written by Editorial Botanical-online team in charge of content writing

19 March, 2021

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