Aubergines, scientifically known as Solanum malongena, is a common Mediterranean vegetable in the family Solanaceae. Solanaceae is a group of plants that comprises some of the widely known vegetables such as tomatoes, chilies, and peppers. Aubergine is commonly known as eggplant.
Aubergines love warm and full sun. Aubergines are best grown in a greenhouse. However, if you are living in hot climates with warm summer-like southern California, you can grow eggplant even outside. You can start seeds indoors as early as January or April. This is because aubergine needs a long growing season. Sow seeds in seed-starting trays that are filled with moist compost. Seedlings can be transplanted to their permanent space in May or June.
Read on for details on how to grow aubergines from seeds and aubergines.
Before then, here are some important points:
- If you have a greenhouse that is heated or warm enough, grow aubergines in April
- However, if you are growing in a greenhouse that is not heated or it is not warm enough, grow eggplant in early May
- If you are growing aubergines outdoors, grow aubergines in late May
With these few but important points in mind, here is how to grow aubergines from seeds:
How to grow aubergines from seeds
Here is a step by step guide:
1. Choose the right variety of aubergines: the first step to growing successful aubergines is to choose good quality seeds from certified organic growers or local growers. This helps produce aubergines of high quality. Well-known aubergine varieties include moneymaker, fairyTale, Little fingers, and Asian Bride varieties.
2. Choose the right containers: if you are growing your aubergines outside, skip step. Find 9cm pots for starting seeds. You also need to find bigger containers so that you can transfer the seedlings when the roots filled up the bigger containers. Make sure you use pots that retain warmth but they should be able to drain water easily.
3. Choose the right garden spot: if you are growing outside, find a location with well-drained and fertile soil. The place should be warm and sunny with temperatures 65-70°F. But, damp moist place because this type of place can attract pests and diseases.
4. Prepare the pots: if you are growing outdoors, skip this step. Prepare the pots by filling them with well-aged compost.
5. Prepare the garden spot: prepare the garden spot by loosening the top 10 inches of the soil. Loosen the soil to remove large rocks, stones, and large plant roots. Mix in 5 inches of compost into the soil and water.
6. Plant aubergine seeds: as I earlier said, if you are growing indoors, you can start seeds as early as January or February. Sow seeds 0.5 inches deep in 9cm pots that are filled with all-purpose compost. Then, water gently the pots to moisten the seeds and potting mixes. I recommend that you soak the aubergine seeds in hot water for about 24 hours before planting. This helps aubergine seeds germinate quickly. Keep pots in a warm sunny area. You can keep them in the cupboard.
If you are growing aubergines outside, sow aubergine seeds after the last frost. Do not sow seeds until all the risks of frost have passed. This should be around May to June. Make garden beds. Leave about 18 inches between rows. Sow seeds 0.5 inches deep in the soil. Space plants 8-10 inches apart. Water gently to keep the seeds and garden ground moist.
7. Transplant the seedlings to greenhouse or garden: when the aubergine seeds germinated and roots have started filling up the small pots, transfer the seedlings to bigger pots if you want to grow them indoors. However, outdoors, transplant the seedlings to a greenhouse or garden spots. Space seedlings in the greenhouse or garden spot about 60cm apart.
8. Take care of your aubergines: water regularly about times a day. You also need to feed your aubergines with high potassium liquid fertilizer every two weeks after germination. If you are growing outside, watch for weeds and remove them. Weeding helps reduce competition for nutrients.
You need to also pinch out the tip of the parent aubergine stem when grown to 30cm tall. Pinching out the stem tips helps encourage side shoots to grow. Aubergines are crawlers. So, stake aubergines as they grow taller.
Also, cut flowers when the Aubergines grow first 5-6 fruits. However, some varieties that produce small to round fruits can be left to produce more flowers.
Now, I have discussed how to grow aubergines or eggplant from seeds. Let us now look at how to harvest aubergines plus different ways to control and prevent pests and diseases of aubergines. But, before then, let us discuss how to grow aubergines from aubergines.
How to grow aubergines from aubergines
Here is a step by step instructions:
Materials: black nylon mulch, potting soil, compost, Mason jar, 1-gallon pot, a roll of twine, and garden stakes.
1. Cut cuttings from existing aubergine plants: cut cuttings from live aubergines. Ensure that you cut at the end of the growing season.
2. Put water in the Mason jar: fill the Mason jar with water to about 2/3 of the Mason jar. Place the aubergine cuttings in the Mason jar containing water. Do not place more than 2 cuttings. Ensure you replace water when evaporated. Place the Mason jar in a warm sunny location.
3. Watch for germination: after two to three weeks, your aubergine cuttings will begin to sprout new roots. When you notice these new roots and sometimes some set of new leaves, start preparing your potting mixes.
4. Transplant to pots: find a 1 gallon-sized pot and fill it with all-purpose compost. If you are growing many cuttings, use as many pots as possible. Make sure you plant not more than 1-2 cuttings in a single pot. Water the potting soil to make it moist.
Then, transplant the cuttings from the Mason jar to the pots. Do not move the pots outdoors. You need to grow new sprouts indoors until they are able to withstand cool weather. Transplant your aubergine plants at least two weeks after the last frost.
5. Prepare the greenhouse or garden: follow the steps I outlined when I was discussing how to grow aubergines from seeds to prepare the garden spot or greenhouse. After preparing the garden, if the garden still retains some elements of the last frost, you need to mulch the garden with black tuflin. This is important to protect the new aubergines from cold damage.
6. Transplant young aubergines to greenhouse or garden: if you are done with the preparation, transplant the young aubergines to the garden or greenhouse 2 weeks after the last frost.
7. Stake the aubergine plants: aubergines are crawlers as I earlier explained. Additionally, fruits produced by aubergines are large. So, stake them with 6×12 inches wooden stakes. Use a twine roll to secure the new aubergine plants gently to the stakes. Staking helps support the weight of large aubergine fruits.
8. Mulch the surface of the garden: add a 2-3 inch layer of chopped wood or straw to mulch the surface of the garden. This mulching helps seal in warmth and also retain moisture.
9. Feed the aubergine plants: feed the young growing aubergines with compost or high potassium fertilizer 3 weeks after transplanting. Continue with the feeding 2 times a month. You need to side-dress the rows by adding six inches of organic compost.
Read also: How To Grow Caraway Plant From Seeds
How long does it take for the eggplant to grow
Under normal climatic conditions, healthy aubergines can take about 100-120 days from seeds planting to harvesting. However, some varieties of aubergines may mature earlier or later than these days. So, choosing the right variety of eggplant is a good step to harvesting aubergines early.
How to harvest aubergines
If all things were done correctly, you can harvest your eggplant in August or September.
Aubergine companion plants
Aubergines make a good companion with other members of the Solanaceae family such as chilies, peppers, and tomatoes. Aubergine can also be grown with Brassica members such as Broccoli.
Read also: How To Grow Artichokes From Seeds And Crowns
Common pests and diseases of aubergines
Common pests of aubergines include glasshouse red spiders, whitefly, aphids, red spider mite, and thrips. While common disease of eggplant includes Blossom end rot disease.
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In this article, I discussed how to grow aubergines from seeds and aubergine cuttings. I hope you will find this article helpful. Let me know if you have any questions.