Eggplant is one of the most attractive summer crops, with its beautiful shape and shiny skin in purple, white, green and black. They are one of the most temperamental, requiring a long, warm summer to bear fruit. But growing them in pots or planting grafted varieties – or both! – There are good shortcuts to success in mild climates.
Egg plants should be planted indoors in late winter, so the plants are well established when it is warm enough to be planted outside.
Plants can be planted outdoors, in pots or directly in the garden, in warm places from mid to late and in cold areas in late spring.
Grafted plants should be available from garden centers by mid-spring and can then be planted in most parts of the country. Although if there is still a possibility of late cold, wait! Lovers of this heat need reliable warm weather from the very beginning of their lives. Grafted plants grow faster, so this is a great option for areas with low temperatures.
Step by step
- Sow seeds 6 mm deep in a tray of moist seed enhancing mix. Cover with a plastic bag, use a seed-growing hatpad, or build a mini-house. Place inside on a warm window.
- Plants should grow in about five days. After a week or two, dilute any weak-looking specimens.
- After about a month, transplant the largest plants into smaller individual pots, but keep them inside and give them warmth and light.
- In the garden, plants are planted at a distance of 60 cm.
Before planting, fertilize the soil with manure and sheep dung. Eggplants are technically fruitful, so fertilize with tomatoes before planting and encouraging fruiting.
Mature plants rarely exceed 1.5 meters, but due to the weight of the fruit (more than 1 kg in some species) they need stacking. When planting, do this so that the roots are not accidentally damaged later.
Eggplants will not bear fruit unless the daytime temperature is above 23 ° C and the night temperature is above 13 ° C, so grow in pots in backward areas, as the soil is one or two degrees warmer. And you can keep the containers in the hottest, most sunny place you have – ideally with a heat-absorbing stone or brick wall.
When the flowers appear, eat all-purpose fertilizer or tomatoes with a side dress. Repeat monthly when the plants are bearing fruit.
Eggplants should be strong and shiny when cut. If you gently press the ripe fruit with your thumb, the meat will press in but bounce back. Instead of breaking or twisting the stems, use sectors, and leave out the calyx attached to the fruit.
Thin fruit crops are more reliable and heavier than rotten black or purple. Go for slim ‘ping tung long’, or stripe purple and white ‘saconiki’. The teardrop-shaped, milk-colored ‘White Star’ grows well in cold regions and the ‘Early Prolific’ is a fast-ripening variety.
Small eggplants are perfect for pots or short summer areas, try the berry-colored Thai purple, purple and white striped ‘Baby Eggplant’ or the shiny purple ‘Petio Baby’.
Oyster suckers such as spider mites and aphids affect plants and are worst in hot, dry weather. Use your hose regularly to blow the plants.
Tomatoes also target potato-sliced eggplant. Cover plants with garden nets and deny access.
Like tomatoes, eggplants rot at the end of flowering (dark, sunken areas at the end of the fruit). This is due to inconsistent watering, so water plants once or twice a week (and daily for pots) instead of watering or flooding.
This is an edited excerpt from New Zealand Gardner’s vegetables are easy to grow.. Order online. Here.