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
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
Ease of cultivation: Difficult outdoors –
needs protection plus regular watering and feeding.
· For outdoor cultivation, well-drained
fertile soil in a sunny, sheltered location is
necessary. Add a general-purpose fertilizer before
· 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).
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
· Water regularly but do not keep the compost
sodden. Add Bio Tomato Food with each watering
once the fruit have begun to swell.
· 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.
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
Black Enorma: The largest aubergine of all, claim
the suppliers. Fruit up to 1 ½ lb (750g)
– try it and see.
Red spider mite