26 May 2011

Grow Your Own Guide - Aubergine

Aubergine haven't always been dark purple. It has evolved from a spiny plant from India with a small, white egg shaped fruit. That is why it is called an eggplant. Grow from seed to harvested plant in 20 weeks in a hot, sheltered but sunny place.

1. Fill a pot with seed compost after making some holes in its base. With your fingertips, make a hole about 6mm deep in the soil.

2. Sow two seeds in the hole and gently brush some surrounding soil over with your fingers. Remember to add a label and water. Keep on a windowsill.

3. After germinating remove the weakest seedlings to allow the strongest one to continue growing and developing good roots.

4. Make a hole in the soil in a large container. Carefully, tip the young plant out of its pot and place into the hole. Pat the soil around it and water in.

5. Water little but often as aubergine plants don't like their soil too wet or to dry. If you have a greenhouse, your plant will flourish there.

6. Look out for flowers. These have five petals with a yellow centre. They are very colourful to attract insects for pollinating.

7. Spray the new fruits to help them set. As the fruits start to swell, add liquid feed each time you water.

8. Pinch out the growing tips once the plant has grown to 30cm. You may want to tie your plant to a cane for added support.

Cut each fruit with scissors when it is more than 10cm long and still has a shine on its skin. You might get between five and ten fruits over a few months.

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