Peeping through a lush coat of leaves, I catch a glimpse of a shiny ‘Faberge Egg’, the latest design by Mother Nature. Once known as a ‘mad apple’ this delight is also known by its Indian name ‘brinjal’ or by its French one ‘aubergine’. Come see how I’ve grown mine.
GROW AN EGGPLANT IN 4 EASY STEPS...
I have found that an eggplant is easy to grow. It is native to the tropics of South East Asia (where it was first domesticated over 4000 years ago) so it likes sun and a long warm growing season. I have grown mine successfully in containers and small gardens and this is how I did it...
Eggplants are heavy feeders so enrich soil well with aged manure (preferably horse manure) and compost as well as a pre-planting slow release organic fertilizer, like Vita-Fruit & Flower, which is high in potassium.
Eggplants are tender when young so I have found it best to grow seedlings first. I used my seedling pot maker to make my pots from recycled newspaper, which gets planted straight into the soil, protecting the seedlings from root disturbance. The newspaper is also fully biodegradable & it feeds the earthworms.
*TIP: Transplant seedlings when they are 12cm high (about 4 weeks after sowing).
The flowers become the fruit & so the more flowers the better your harvest. Each eggplant can bear anything from 6 - 12 fruit each. Keep the roots well mulched (8-10cm thick) to keep them moist as this will produce more flowers. When flowers begin forming, feed 1/week with potassium rich fertilizer like Biotrissol
Stalk plants when fruit gets bigger. Eggplant fruit is ready to be harvested when the skin becomes shiny. Smaller eggplants have a better flavour & the more you harvest the more grow. Cut off each egg plant with sharp secateurs (twisting or pulling can break the plant)
*BEWARE of sharp thorns on the stem around the top of fruit.
I love to make a delicious Moussaka with my harvest. On my travels I discovered some delightfully different eggplant seed to try; like the miniature purple and white striped 'Fairy Tale', the long elongated 'Long Purple' or the white with lilac blush 'Bianca Rosa'.
GOOD COMPANIONS: Peas, peppers, cucumbers, spinach, potatoes, mint, garlic, chives, bush & runner beans, marigolds
BAD COMPANIONS: Fennel
Cutworms love young eggplant seedlings and adult plants can be attacked by spider mite and leaf beetles. I treated mine with a dose of the organic pesticide bioneem & plant garlic chives around my plants as both beetles and mites are repelled by them.