Gardening

How to plant eggplant

Solanum melongena

Eggplant is a disputed plant that has been cultivated in India and southern China for at least two thousand years. There are a large number of cultivars, with plants that can grow from 40 cm to more than two meters in height, and their fruits can have different sizes, shapes and colors, although the most cultivated ones are dark purple. The fruit is the only edible part of the plant, as its leaves and flowers contain the toxic alkaloid solanine.

Climate

Eggplant is a tropical plant that needs temperatures above 20 ° C to develop well. In hot climates it can be cultivated all year round. In regions where winter has low temperatures, it can be grown in the hottest months of the year. Cultivation in agricultural greenhouses is indicated for regions where the temperature can drop below 13 ° C during the growing period. Rain during the flowering period can impair pollination and affect productivity.

Brightness

This plant needs high light, with at least a few hours of direct sunlight daily.

Ground

The soil must be well drained, fertile, with good availability of nitrogen, rich in organic matter, with a pH between 5.5 and 6.8.

Irrigation

Irrigate frequently so that the soil is kept moist, but without being soaked.

Planting

The seeds can be left in the water for a day to facilitate germination. Sow the seeds on the soil surface and cover them with a light layer of sieved soil or fine sawdust. The seeds can be sown in seedlings, plastic bags or paper cups, carrying out the transplant of eggplant seedlings when they are 8 to 10 cm tall. Germination of the seeds usually occurs in a week or two.

The ideal spacing varies with the size of the cultivar and the climate of the region (larger in warmer weather, slightly smaller in milder climate), ranging from 60 cm to 1 m between the planting lines and from 50 cm to 1 m between the plants.

It is possible to grow the most common eggplant cultivars in large pots, but cultivars with small plants are the most recommended for growing in pots.

Cultivation

Depending on the size of the cultivar and the size of the fruits, the eggplant may need staking so that the plant or its branches do not fall. The plants can be carefully tied to vertical poles or other supports can be used, for example, circular wire supports suitable for this purpose.

Remove weeds that are competing for resources and nutrients.

Harvest

Eggplant harvest starts three to six months after planting, depending on the cultivar and growing conditions. The fruits are harvested when they are well developed, glossy, smooth and with a bright color, before they become opaque and start to wrinkle, when their seeds begin to harden and darken. The fruits must be handled with care so as not to suffer injuries that can greatly accelerate their deterioration.

Eggplant is a plant generally grown as an annual, however it is a short-lived perennial in hot climates and can produce for a few years, although production is higher in the first year.

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