How to plant and grow eggplant or aubergine (Solanum melongena)
Eggplant (or Aubergine) origin is a disputed subject because it has been cultivated in India and southern China for at least two thousand years.
There are a large number of cultivars, with plants that can reach 40 cm to more than two meters in height, and their fruits can have different sizes, shapes and colors, although the most cultivated are dark purple.
The fruit is the only edible part of the plant, as its leaves and flowers contain the toxic alkaloid solanine.
Scientific name: Solanum melongena
Plant type: Vegetables
Height: 1.5m - 3m
Spread: 50cm - 1.5m
Flower color: Blue, Purple
Fruit color: Black, Purple, White
Sunlight: Full Sun
Moisture: Moist but well drained
Where does eggplant grows best?
Eggplant is a tropical plant that needs temperatures above 20°C to develop well.
In hot climates it can be cultivated all year round. In regions where winter has low temperatures, it is usually grown in the hottest months of the year.
Cultivation in agricultural greenhouses is indicated for regions where the temperature can drop below 13°C during the growing period.
Rain during the flowering period can impair pollination and affect productivity.
This plant needs high light levels, with at least a few hours of direct sunlight daily.
What type of soil does eggplant prefer?
Eggplant prefer soils that are well drained, fertile, with good availability of nitrogen, rich in organic matter, with a pH between 5.5 and 6.8.
How often should I water eggplant?
Water eggplant frequently so that the soil is kept moist, but without remaining soggy.
How to plant
Sow the seeds on the soil surface and cover them with a light layer of sieved soil
The seeds can be previously left in the water for a day to facilitate germination.
The seeds can be started in seed trays or paper cups, transplanting the seedlings when they are 8 to 10 cm high. Germination of the seeds usually occurs in a week or two.
The plant spacing varies with the size of the cultivar and the climate of the region (larger in warmer weather, slightly smaller in milder climate), ranging from 60 cm to 1 m between the planting lines and from 50 cm to 1 m between the plants.
It is possible to grow the most common eggplant cultivars in large pots but cultivars with smaller fruits are the most recommended for growing in pots.
How to grow
Depending on the size of the cultivar and the size of the fruits, the eggplant may need staking so that the plant or its branches do not fall.
Plants can be carefully tied to vertical supports such as circular wire supports suitable for this purpose.
Don’t forget to remove weeds that are competing for resources and nutrients.
Eggplant harvesting begins three to six months after planting, depending on the cultivar and growing conditions.
The fruits are harvested when they are well developed, glossy, smooth and with a bright color, before they become opaque and their seeds begin to harden and darken.
The fruits must be handled with care so as not to suffer injuries that can greatly accelerate their deterioration.
Eggplant is a plant grown generally as an annual, however it is a short-lived perennial in hot climates and can produce for a few years, although production is higher in the first year.