Eggplant: sowing, cultivation, maintenance and harvest


Delicious and full of health benefits, eggplant is a fairly easy fruit vegetable to grow when you follow a few basic principles. Here are the tips to follow to sow and cultivate eggplant in the rules of the art in order to benefit from your own harvest from August until the very beginning of autumn.

Sow the eggplant

From the month of January we can start sow under cover eggplants and this sowing period lasts until April. Just proceed as follows:

  • Fill buckets, small pots or even boxes with a mixture composed of 30% of loosened garden soil and 70% of well-sifted seed compost,
  • Place in the substrate 2 to 3 eggplant seeds in each cup or pot or sow broadcast in a box,
  • Cover the seeds with a thin layer of substrate,
  • Spray for a watering in fine rain so as not to dig up the seedlings,
  • Place the container (s) at a temperature of 18 ° C, in a very bright room.

Then ensure that keep the soil moist. It can be noted that in the South of France, eggplant sowing can be done under frame, outdoors. In all cases from the emergence of the plants, it is advisable tolighten, which consists in keeping only the most vigorous.

It is then necessary to wait until the ground has been sufficiently warmed by the spring sun to reach a temperature of 12 to 13 ° C in order to transplant the young eggplant plants in place, when they have formed at least 5 leaves and therefore reached about fifteen centimeters in height.

The sowing directly in place proceed as follows:

  • Dig furrows spaced 60 cm from each other,
  • Make holes in it every 50 cm,
  • Place 2 or 3 seeds per hole,
  • Cover the seedlings with loosened and light soil,
  • Water in fine rain.

Here again, care must be taken to keep the soil moist by regular watering and, after emergence, keep only the vigorous plants.

Growing eggplant

Eggplant loves humus soils rich in humus, furniture, fresh and well drained. She needs a sunny exposure to be able to benefit from a temperature above 18 or 19 ° C.

If you want to avoid sowing and thinning, you can go to a garden center in May to buy the eggplant plant in cup at transplant immediately in the vegetable garden. But the eggplant being a chilly plant, sowing directly in the ground is only possible if the risk of frost has been eliminated. In many of our regions, it is therefore preferable to wait until mid-May, or even the beginning of June. In the Mediterranean regions, it is less risky to sow eggplants in the ground at the beginning of May.

It can be noted that the eggplant grows well in pots, good news for people who do not have a garden, but have a balcony that is well exposed to the sun. In this case, pots 40 cm high and 30 to 40 cm in diameter are used.

Maintain your eggplants in the garden

To enjoy the eggplants from the garden throughout the summer, so enjoy a bountiful harvest, it is enough to meet their needs.

Water

Keep the soil moist by watering regularly, especially when it is very hot, the earth must never be dry, without wetting the leaves. This does not mean that you should drown your crop because excess humidity causes rotting of the roots and can also be the cause of diseases.

Fertilize

During the winter preceding the eggplant planting, it is recommended to prepare the soil of the garden by burying a organic fertilizer. These fruit vegetables are greedy in nutrients. This is why the soil must be properly amended before planting. Poor soil causes deficiencies, which has an impact on the development of the plant and the size of its fruits.

In the garden, we can do two applications of decomposed manure or complete organic fertilizer in granules during vegetation, the second to be carried out when the fruits are forming. The ideal is to bury the fertilizer at the foot, scratching the soil superficially. As for potted eggplants, they need their substrate to be enriched with liquid tomato fertilizer every 7 or 8 days.

Mulch

Laying mulch at the foot of the eggplants as soon as they are planted is very useful because it keeps good humidity and limits the development of weeds. Suddenly, we water a little less and we spend less time weeding. We can opt for linen sequins on a thickness of 5 to 8 cm. Opaque film or slate looted to a thickness of 3 to 4 cm are two other possible solutions. The flax flakes enrich the soil by decomposing while the film and slate help to increase the temperature of the soil a little.

Tutor

Stakes are installed from the start of the plants’ development. Then just tie the twigs as they grow.

Prune

It is essential to prune the eggplant to benefit from a satisfactory harvest. It consists of:

  • Remove the suckers that develop at the base of the stem,
  • Eliminate superfluous stems to keep only a maximum of 4 branches per foot,
  • Remove wilted, damaged or diseased leaves as you go,
  • When the flowers appear, pinch above the first one,
  • Keep a maximum of 4 new shoots that emerge under the flower, in the axils of the leaves, the others must be carefully cut,
  • The preserved shoots will quickly become twigs and in turn form flowers: in order to keep only 2 on each twig, we prune 1 cm above the leaf which overhangs the highest flower, which favors the occurrence of a sap-pulling rod to be preserved.

It then remains to remove the new small stems that form because they would only exhaust the plant. By taking care to prune your eggplant plants at the right time, each plant can provide an average of 7 fruits.

During the vegetation, we can perform several pinches because it allows a regular fruit setting. We ensure keep the central rod.

For temperature reasons, the fruits appear later in the North of the Loire. In these regions, it is therefore preferable to keep only 6 to 8 eggplants per plant at most so that they mature before the temperatures drop in late summer or early autumn. The eggplants can thus all be harvested before they get cold.

Parasites and diseases

In hot, dry weather, eggplant can be overgrown withmites plant ectoparasites, commonly referred to as red spiders, and belonging to the family of Tetranychidae. These weeds feed on the sap of the plants, which leads to yellowing of the leaves. They can be eliminated naturally by spraying water (preferably non-calcareous) because humidity makes them disappear quickly.

The leaf miner (Tuta absoluta) is a moth originally from South America which, since its appearance in the Drôme in 2009, is omnipresent on our national territory. The leafminer also attacks the tomato. It is a parasite to be eradicated without delay because it can wipe out the entire eggplant culture. The use of an anti-insect net is a good preventive solution and weeding is imperative. To treat naturally, the plants should be sprayed with rhubarb manure.

As to mildew, it is a disease favored by excessive humidity associated with heat. This is why we take care when planting to space the feet so that they are sufficiently ventilated and we ensure thereafter to wet the foliage as little as possible during watering. As a preventive measure, a few sprayings of Bordeaux mixture can be carried out. But any eggplant stalk affected by mildew should be pulled up and burnt immediately. This reduces the risk of the spread of this fungal disease running in the vegetable garden.

Harvest your eggplants

It is important to harvest eggplants from maturity. To wait too long will only cause the flesh to harden and the fruit will then taste bitter. On the contrary, we must pick each fruit when it is purple, very firm, and as soon as the chalice opens. An eggplant that is too advanced becomes more or less brown. To harvest, you have to cut the stem 2 cm above the calyx while holding the fruit so that it does not fall to the ground.

The eggplant must be consumed soon after harvest. It will keep well for 2 days at room temperature or up to 5 days in the refrigerator compartment. For longer storage, it is better, for example, to freeze or cook it for conservation in jars sterilized.