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Aubergine

UK Garden Centre - Information about aubergines

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The aubergine or egg plant is one of the new wave of vegetables which were once regarded as unusual but are now to be found on the shelves of supermarkets everywhere. It can be grown in a greenhouse as easily as the tomato, to which it is related, but outdoors it is much more of a gamble. In a long, hot summer it will grow and fruit satisfactorily in a sunny, sheltered spot, but in most years and in most areas this plant will fail without glass protection. It needs pampering – it is one for mild areas, and barn cloches or a cold frame will be needed. The prickly, shrubby plants bear attractive flowers followed by shiny fruits – usually oval but sometimes round, usually purple but sometimes white.

Seed facts
Expected germination time: 14-21 days
Expected yield per plant: 4-5lb (2-2.5kg)
Life expectancy of stored seed: 5 years
Approximate time between sowing and picking: 20 weeks
Ease of cultivation: Difficult outdoors – needs protection plus regular watering and feeding.

Soil facts
· For outdoor cultivation, well-drained fertile soil in a sunny, sheltered location is necessary. Add a general-purpose fertilizer before planting.
· In the greenhouse grow in 9in (22cm) pots filled with compost or plant in grow bags – 3 per bag.
·
Sowing and Planting
· Raise seedlings under glass at 60-70°F (15-21°C). sow 2 seeds in a compost-filled peat pot – remove weaker seedling. Harden off before planting outdoors.
· Plant them 24in (60cm) apart, and water in after planting. Cover soil with cloches 2 weeks before planting. Cover seedlings after planting.
· For greenhouse cultivation plant out in April (heated) or early May (unheated).
·
Calendar
Sowing and planting time (outdoor crop): March for sowing indoors under glass; May for transplanting seedlings raised under glass and cover with cloches.
Sowing and planting time (greenhouse crop): Late February for sowing indoors under glass; April to mid May for transplanting seedlings.
Picking time: August to September; can extend from late July to Mid October.

Looking after the crop
· Remove growing point when the plant is 12 in (30cm) high – stake stems.
· Mist plants regularly to keep down red spider mite and encourage fruit set. When 5 fruits have formed, remove lateral shoots and remaining flowers.
· Water regularly but do not keep the compost sodden. Add Bio Tomato Food with each watering once the fruit have begun to swell.

Harvesting
· Cut each fruit once it has reached a satisfactory size (usually 5-6in (12-15cm) long) but before the surface shine has gone. Dull fruit are usually over-ripe and bitter.

Varieties
Long Purple: The old favourite – no special advantages, but has stood the test of time.
Black Prince: A new F1 hybrid from Japan – earlier and heavier-yielding than Long Purple.
Easter Egg: Less flavour than perhaps the traditional purples, but an interesting novelty – the colour, size and appearance of a large hen’s egg.
Black Enorma: The largest aubergine of all, claim the suppliers. Fruit up to 1 ½ lb (750g) – try it and see.

Troubles
Red spider mite
Aphid
Whitefly


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